Socialism and Modern Science (Darwin, Spencer, Marx)
by Enrico Ferri
Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

When socialism, by assuring to every one the means of livelihood, contends that it will permit the assertion and the development of all individualities, it does not fall into a contradiction of principles, but being, as it is, the approaching phase of human civilization, it can not suppress nor efface whatever is vital, that is to say, compatible with the new social form, in the preceding phases. And just as socialist internationalism is not in conflict with patriotism, since it recognizes whatever is healthy and true in that sentiment, and eliminates only the pathological part, jingoism, in the same way, socialism does not draw its life from contradiction, but it follows, on the contrary, the fundamental laws of natural evolution, in developing and preserving the vital part of individualism, and in suppressing only its pathological manifestations which are responsible for the fact that in the modern world, as Prampolini said, 90 per cent. of the cells of the social organization are condemned to anemia because 10 per cent. are ill with hyper-emia and hyper-trophy.


[55] ARDIGO, La formazione naturale, Vol. II. of his Opere filosofiche, Padua, 1897.

[56] My master, Pietro Ellero, has given in La Tirrandie borghese, an eloquent description of this social and political pathology as it appears in Italy.

[57] RICHTER, Ou mene le socialisme, Paris, 1892.

[58] M. Loria, in Les Bases economiques de la constitution sociale, Paris, 1894, part 1st, demonstrates, moreover, that in a society based on collective ownership selfishness, rightly understood will still remain the principal motive of human actions, but that it will then be the means of realizing a social harmony of which it is the worst enemy under the regime of individualism.

Here is an example of this, on a small scale, but instructive. The means of transportation have, in large cities, followed the ordinary process of progressive socialization. At first, everybody went on foot, excepting only a few rich persons who were able to have horses and carriages; later, carriages were made available for the public at a fixed rate of hire (the fiacres which have been used in Paris a little more than a century, and which took their name from Saint Fiacre because the first cab stood beneath his image); then, the dearness of fiacre-hire led to a further socialization by means of omnibuses and tramways. Another step forward and the socialization will be complete. Let the cab service, omnibus service, street railways, bicyclettes, etc., become a municipal service or function and every one will be able to make use of it gratis just as he freely enjoys the railways when they become a national public service.

But, then—this is the individualist objection—everybody will wish to ride in cabs or on trolleys, and the service having to attempt to satisfy all, will be perfectly satisfactory to no one.

This is not correct. If the transformation had to be made suddenly, this might be a temporary consequence. But even now many ride gratis (on passes, etc.) on both railways and tramways.

And so it seems to us that every one will wish to ride on the street cars because the fact that it is now impossible for many to enjoy this mode of locomotion gives rise to the desire for the forbidden fruit. But when the enjoyment of it shall be free (and there could be restrictions based on the necessity for such transportation) another egoistic motive will come into play—the physiological need of walking, especially for well-fed people who have been engaged in sedentary labor.

And so you see how individual selfishness, in this example of collective ownership on a small scale, would act in harmony with the social requirements.

[59] Thus it is easy to understand how unfounded is the reasoning among the opponents of socialism that the failure of communist or socialist colonies is an objective demonstration of "the instability of a socialist arrangement" (of society).

[60] This is what Yves Guyot, for example, does in Les Principes de 1789, Paris, 1894, when he declares, in the name of individualist psychology, that "socialism is restrictive and individualism expansive." This thesis is, moreover, in part true, if it is transposed.

The vulgar psychology, which answers the purposes of M. Guyot (La Tyrannie socialiste, liv. III, ch. I.), is content with superficial observations. It declares, for instance, that if the laborer works twelve hours, he will produce evidently a third more than if he works eight hours, and this is the reason why industrial capitalism has opposed and does oppose the minimum programme of the three eighths—eight hours for work, eight hours for sleep and eight hours for meals and recreation.

A more scientific physio-psychological observation demonstrates, on the contrary, as I said long ago, that "man is a machine, but he does not function after the fashion of a machine," in the sense that man is a living machine, and not an inorganic machine.

Every one knows that a locomotive or a sewing machine does in twelve hours a quantity of work greater by one-third than it does in eight hours; but man is a living machine, subject to the law of physical mechanics, but also to those of biological mechanics. Intellectual labor, like muscular labor, is not uniform in quality and intensity throughout its duration. Within the individual limits of fatigue and exhaustion, it obeys the law which Quetelet expressed by his binomial curve, and which I believe to be one of the fundamental laws of living and inorganic nature. At the start the force or the speed is very slight—afterward a maximum of force or speed is attained—and at last the force or speed again becomes very slight.

With manual labor, as with intellectual labor, there is a maximum, after which the muscular and cerebral forces decline, and then the work drags along slowly and without vigor until the end of the forced daily labor. Consider also the beneficient suggestive influence of a reduction of hours, and you will readily understand why the recent English reports are so unanswerable on the excellent results, even from the capitalist point of view, of the Eight-Hour reform. The workingmen are less fatigued, and the production is undiminished.

When these economic reforms, and all those which are based on an exact physio-psychology, shall be effected under the socialist regime—that is to say, without the friction and the loss of force that would be inevitable under capitalist individualism—it is evident that they will have immense material and moral advantages, notwithstanding the a priori objections of the present individualism which can not see or which forgets the profound reflex effects of a change of the social environment on individual psychology.

[61] ICILIO VANNI, La funzione practica della filosofia del diritto considerata in se e in rapporto al socialismo contemporaneo, Bologne, 1894.



The last and the gravest of the contradictions that it is attempted to set up between socialism and the scientific theory of evolution, relates to the question of how socialism, in practice, will be inaugurated and realized.

Some think that socialism ought, at the present time, to set forth, in all its details, the precise and symmetrical form of the future social organization.—"Show me a practical description of the new society, and I will then decide whether I ought to prefer it to the present society."

Others—and this is a consequence of that first false conception—imagine that socialism wishes in a single day to change the face of the world, and that we will be able to go to sleep in a world completely bourgeois and to wake up next morning in a world completely socialist.

How is it possible not to see, some one then says, that all this is directly and thoroughly in conflict with the law of evolution, a law based on the two fundamental ideas—which are characteristic of the new tendencies of scientific thought and which are in conflict with the old metaphysics—of the naturalness and the gradualness of all phenomena in all domains of universal life, from astronomy to sociology.

It is indisputable that these two objections were, in great part, well founded when they were directed against what Engels has called "utopian socialism."

When socialism, before the time of Karl Marx, was merely the sentimental expression of a humanitarianism as noble as it was neglectful of the most elementary principles of exact science, it was altogether natural for its partisans to give rein to the impetuosity of their generous natures both in their vehement protests against social injustices and in their reveries and day-dreams of a better world, to which the imagination strove to give precise contours, as witness all the utopias from the REPUBLIC of Plato to the LOOKING BACKWARD of Bellamy.

It is easy to understand what opportunities these constructions afforded to criticism. The latter was false in part, moreover, because it was the offspring of the habits of thought peculiar to the modern world, and which will change with the change in the environment, but it was well founded in part also because the enormous complexity of social phenomena makes it impossible to prophesy in regard to all the details of a social organization which will differ from ours more profoundly than the present society differs from that of the Middle Ages, because the bourgeois world has retained the same foundation, individualism, as the society which preceded it, while the socialist world will have a fundamentally different polarization.

These prophetic constructions of a new social order are, moreover, the natural product of that artificiality in politics and sociology, with which the most orthodox individualists are equally deeply imbued, individualists who imagine, as Spencer has remarked, that human society is like a piece of dough to which the law can give one form rather than another, without taking into account the organic and psychical, ethical and historical qualities, tendencies and aptitudes of the different peoples.

Sentimental socialism has furnished some attempts at utopian construction, but the modern world of politics has presented and does present still more of them with the ridiculous and chaotic mess of laws and codes which surround every man from his birth to his death, and even before he is born and after he is dead, in an inextricable network of codes, laws, decrees and regulations which stifle him like the silk-worm in the cocoon.

And every day, experience shows us that our legislators, imbued with this political and social artificiality, do nothing but copy the laws of the most dissimilar peoples, according as the fashion comes from Paris or Berlin,—instead of carefully studying the facts of actual life, the conditions of existence and the interests of the people in their respective countries, in order to adapt their laws to them, laws which—if this is not done—remain, as abundant examples show, dead letters because the reality of the facts of life does not permit them to strike their roots into the social soil and to develop a fruitful life.[62]

On the subject of artificial social constructions, the socialists might say to the individualists: let him who is without sin, cast the first stone.

The true reply is wholly different. Scientific socialism represents a much more advanced phase of socialist thought; it is in perfect harmony with modern, experiential science, and it has completely abandoned the fantastic idea of prophesying, at the present time, what human society will be under the new collectivist organization.

What scientific socialism can affirm and does affirm with mathematical certainty, is that the current, the trajectory, of human evolution is in the general direction pointed out and foreseen by socialism, that is to say, in the direction of a continuously and progressively increasing preponderance of the interests and importance of the species over the interests and importance of the individual—and, therefore, in the direction of a continuous socialization of the economic life, and with and in consequence of that, of the juridical, moral and political life.

As to the petty details of the new social edifice, we are unable to foresee them, precisely because the new social edifice will be, and is, a natural and spontaneous product of human evolution, a product which is already in process of formation, and the general outlines of which are already visible, and not an artificial construction of the imagination of some utopian or idealist.

The situation is the same in the social sciences and the natural sciences. In embryology the celebrated law of Haeckel tells us that the development of the individual embryo reproduces in miniature the various forms of development of the animal species which have preceded it in the zoological series. But the biologist, by studying a human embryo of a few days' or a few weeks' growth, can not tell whether it will be male or female, and still less whether it will be a strong or a weak individual, phlegmatic or nervous, intelligent or not.

He can only tell the general lines of the future evolution of that individual, and must leave it to time to show the exact character of all the particular details of its personality, which will be developed naturally and spontaneously, in conformity with the hereditary organic conditions and the conditions of the environment in which it will live.

This is what can be and what must be the reply of every socialist. This is the position taken by Bebel in the German Reichstag[63] in his reply to those who wish to know at the present time what all the details of the future State will be, and who skilfully profiting by the ingenuity of the socialist romancers, criticize their artificial fantasies which are true in their general outlines, but arbitrary in their details.

It would have been just the same thing if, before the French Revolution,—which, as it were, hatched out the bourgeois world, prepared and matured during the previous evolution,—the nobility and the clergy, the classes then in power, had asked the representatives of the Third Estate—bourgeois by birth, though some aristocrats or priests embraced the cause of the bourgeoisie against the privileges of their caste, as the Marquis de Mirabeau and the Abbe Sieyes—"But what sort of a world will this new world of yours be? Show us first its exact plan, and after that we will decide!"

The Third Estate, the bourgeoisie, would not have been able to answer this question, because it was impossible for them to foresee what the human society of the nineteenth century was to be. But this did not prevent the bourgeois revolution from taking place because it represented the next natural and inevitable phase of an eternal evolution. This is now the position of socialism with relation to the bourgeois world. And if this bourgeois world, born only about a century ago, is destined to have a much shorter historical cycle than the feudal (aristocratico-clerical) world, this is simply because the marvelous scientific progress of the nineteenth century has increased a hundred-fold the rapidity of life in time and has nearly annihilated space, and, therefore, civilized humanity traverses now in ten years the same road that it took, in the Middle Ages, a century or two to travel.

The continuously accelerated velocity of human evolution is also one of the laws established and proved by modern social science.

It is the artificial constructions of sentimental socialism which have given birth to the idea—correct so far as they are concerned—that socialism is synonymous with tyranny.

It is evident that if the new social organization is not the spontaneous form naturally produced by the human evolution, but rather an artificial construction that has issued complete in every detail from the brain of some social architect, the latter will be unable to avoid regulating the new social machinery by an infinite number of rules and by the superior authority which he will assign to a controlling intelligence, either individual or collective. It is easy to understand then, how such an organization gives rise in its opponents—who see in the individualist world only the advantages of liberty, and who forget the evils which so copiously flow from it—the impression of a system of monastic or military discipline.[64]

Another contemporary artificial product has contributed to confirm this impression—State Socialism. At bottom, it does not differ from sentimental or utopian socialism, and as Liebknecht said at the socialist congress of Berlin (1892), it would be "a State Capitalism which would join political slavery to economic exploitation." State Socialism is a symptom of the irresistible power of scientific and democratic socialism—as is shown by the famous rescripts of Emperor William convoking an international conference to solve (this is the infantile idea of the decree) the problems of labor, and the famous Encyclical on "The Condition of Labor" of the very able Pope, Leo XIII, who has handled the subject with great tact and cleverness.[65] But these imperial rescripts and these papal encyclicals—because it is impossible to leap over or suppress the phases of the social evolution—could only result abortively in our bourgeois, individualist and laissez faire world. Certainly it would not have been displeasing to this bourgeois world to see the vigorous contemporary socialism strangled to death in the amorous embraces of official artificiality and of State Socialism, for it had become evident in Germany and elsewhere, that neither laws nor repressive measures of any kind could kill it.[66]

All that arsenal of rules and regulations and provisions for inspection and superintendence has nothing in common with scientific socialism which foresees clearly that the executive guidance of the new social organization will be no more confused than is the present administration of the State, the provinces and the communes, and will, on the contrary, be much better adapted to subserve the interests of both society and the individual, since it will be a natural product and not a parasitic product of the new social organization. Just so, the nervous system of a mammal is the regulating apparatus of its organism; it is, certainly, more complex than that of the organism of a fish or of a mollusc, but it has not, for that reason, tyrannically stifled the autonomy of the other organs and anatomical machinery, or of the cells in their living confederation.

It is understood, then, that to refute socialism, something more is needed than the mere repetition of the current objections against that artificial and sentimental socialism which still continues to exist, I confess, in the nebulous mass of popular ideas. But every day it is losing ground before the intelligent partisans—workingmen, middle-class or aristocrats—of scientific socialism which armed—thanks to the impulse received from the genius of Marx—with all the best-established inductions of modern science, is triumphing over the old objections which our adversaries, through force of mental custom, still repeat, but which have long been left behind by contemporary thought, together with the utopian socialism which provoked them.

The same reply must be made to the second part of the objection, with regard to the mode by which the advent of socialism will be accomplished.

One of the inevitable and logical consequences of utopian and artificial socialism is to think that the architectonic construction proposed by such or such a reformer, ought to be and can be put into practice in a single day by a decree.

In this sense it is quite true that the utopian illusion of empirical socialism is in opposition to the scientific law of evolution, and, looked at in this way, I combatted it in my book on Socialismo e Criminalita, because at that time (1883) the ideas of scientific or Marxian socialism were not yet generally disseminated in Italy.

A political party or a scientific theory are natural products which must pass through the vital phases of infancy and youth, before reaching complete development. It was, then, inevitable that, before becoming scientific or positif (fact-founded), socialism, in Italy as in other countries, should pass through the infantile phases of clannish exclusiveness—the era when socialism was confined to organizations of manual laborers—and of nebulous romanticism which, as it gives to the word revolution a narrow and incomplete meaning, is always fed with false hope by the illusion that a social organism can be radically changed in a single day with four rifle-shots, just as a monarchical regime could thus be converted into a republican regime.

But it is infinitely easier to change the political envelope of a social organization,—because such a change has little effect on the economic foundation of the social life,—than to completely revolutionize this social life in its economic constitution.

The processes of social transformation, as well as—under various names—those of every sort of transformation in living organisms are: evolution,—revolution,—rebellion,—individual violence.

A mineral or vegetable or animal species may pass through, during the cycle of its existence, these four processes.

As long as the structure and the volume of the centre of crystallization, the germ, or the embryo, increase gradually, we have a gradual and continuous process of evolution, which must be followed at a definite stage by a process of revolution, more or less prolonged, represented, for example, by the separation of the entire crystal from the mineral mass which surrounds it, or by certain revolutionary phases of vegetable or animal life, as, for example, the moment of sexual reproduction; there may also be a period of rebellion, that is to say, of organized personal violence, a frequent and well-verified phenomenon among those species of animals who live in societies; there may also be isolated instances of personal violence, as in the struggles to obtain food or for possession of the females between animals of the same species.

These same processes also occur in the human world. By evolution must be understood the transformation that takes place day by day, which is almost unnoticed, but continuous and inevitable; by revolution, the critical and decisive period, more or less prolonged, of an evolution that has reached its concluding phase; by rebellion, the partially collective violence which breaks out, upon the occasion of some particular circumstance, at a definite place and time; and by individual violence, the action of one individual against one or several others, which may be the effect of a fanatical passion or of criminal instincts, or the manifestation of a lack of mental equilibrium,—and which identifies itself with the political or religious ideas most in vogue at the moment.

It must be remarked, in the first place, that while revolution and evolution are normal functions of social physiology, rebellion and individual violence are symptoms of social pathology.

These are, nevertheless, merely natural and spontaneous processes, since, as Virchow has shown, pathology is merely the sequel of normal physiology. Besides, the pathological symptoms have, or should have, a great diagnostical value for the classes in power; but the latter, unfortunately, in every period of history, in times of political crisis, as in those of social crisis, have shown themselves unable to conceive of any other remedy than brutal repression—the guillotine or the prison—and they fancy that thus they can cure the organic and constitutional disease which vexes the social body.[67]

But it is indisputable, at all events, that the normal processes of social transformation (and because they are normal, the most fruitful and the surest, although the slowest and the least effective in appearance) are evolution and revolution, using the latter term in its accurate and scientific sense, as the concluding phase of an evolution, and not in the current and incorrect sense of a stormy and violent revolt.[68]

It is evident, in fact, that Europe and America are, in these closing years of the nineteenth century, in a period of revolution, prepared by the evolution begotten by the bourgeois organization itself and promoted by utopian socialism as well as by scientific socialism. Likewise, we are in that period of social life which Bagehot calls "the age of discussion,"[69] and already we can see what Zola has called, in Germinal, the cracking of the politico-social crust, and, in fact, all those symptoms which Taine has described in his l'Ancien Regime, in relating the history of the twenty years which preceded 1789. As repressive methods are of no avail against domestic revolution, and only serve to expose the symptoms, there can be nothing efficacious and productive of good results, except laws of social reform and preparation which, while safe-guarding the present society, will render less painful, as Marx said, "the birth of the new society."

In this sense, evolution and revolution constitute the most fruitful and surest processes of social metamorphosis. As human society forms a natural and living organism, like all other organisms, it can not endure sudden transformations, as those imagine who think that recourse must be had only or by preference to rebellion or personal violence to inaugurate a new social organization. This seems to me like imagining that a child or a youth could, in a single day, accomplish a biological evolution and become forthwith an adult.[70]

It is easy to understand how a man out of work, in the horrors of starvation, his brain giving way for want of nourishment, may fancy that by giving a policeman a blow with his fist, by throwing a bomb, by raising a barricade, or by taking part in a riot, he is hastening the realization of a social ideal, from which injustice will have vanished.

And, even apart from such cases, it is possible to understand how the power of impulsive feeling, the dominant factor in some natures, may, through a generous impatience, lead them to make some real attempt—and not imaginary like those which the police in all times and all countries prosecute in the courts—to spread terror among those who feel the political or economic power slipping from their hands.

But scientific socialism, especially in Germany, under the direct influence of Marxism, has completely abandoned those old methods of revolutionary romanticism. Though they have often been employed, they have always resulted abortively, and for that very reason the ruling classes no longer dread them, since they are only light, localized assaults on a fortress which still has more than sufficient resistant power to remain victorious and by this victory to retard temporarily the evolution by removing from the scene the strongest and boldest adversaries of the status quo.

Marxian socialism is revolutionary in the scientific meaning of the word, and it is now developing into open social revolution—no one will attempt to deny, I think, that the close of the nineteenth century marks the critical phase of the bourgeois evolution rushing under a full head of steam, even in Italy, along the road of individualist capitalism.

Marxian socialism has the candor to say, through the mouths of its most authoritative spokesmen, to the great suffering host of the modern proletariat, that it has no magic wand to transform the world in a single day, as one shifts the scenes in a theatre; it says on the contrary, repeating the prophetic exhortation of Marx, "Proletarians of all countries, unite," that the social revolution can not achieve its object, unless it first becomes a vivid fact in the minds of the workers themselves by virtue of the clear perception of their class-interests and of the strength which their union will give them, and that they will not wake up some day under a full-fledged socialist regime, because divided and apathetic for 364 days out of the year they shall rebel on the 365th, or devote themselves to the perpetration of some deed of personal violence.

This is what I call the psychology of the "gros lot" (the capital prize in a lottery, etc.). Many workingmen imagine, in fact, that—without doing anything to form themselves into a class-conscious party—they will win some day the capital prize, the social revolution, just as the manna is said to have come down from heaven to feed the Hebrews.

Scientific socialism has pointed out that the transforming power decreases as we descend the scale from one process to another, that of revolution being less than that of evolution, and that of rebellion being less than that of revolution, and individual violence having the least of all. And since it is a question of a complete transformation and, consequently, in its juridical, political and ethical organization, the process of transformation is more effective and better adapted to the purpose in proportion as its social character predominates over its individual character.

The individualist parties are individualists even in the daily struggle; socialism, on the contrary, is collectivist even in that, because it knows that the present organization does not depend upon the will of such or such an individual, but upon society as a whole. And this is also one reason why charity, however generous it be, being necessarily personal and partial, can not be a remedy for the social, and thereby collective, question of the distribution of wealth.

In political questions, which leave the economico-social foundation untouched, it is possible to understand how, for instance, the exile of Napoleon III. or of the Emperor Don Pedro could inaugurate a republic. But this transformation does not extend to the foundation of the social life, and the German Empire or the Italian Monarchy are, socially, bourgeois just the same as the French Republic or the North American Republic, because notwithstanding the political differences between them, they all belong to the same economico-social phase.

This is why the processes of evolution and revolution—the only wholly social or collective processes—are the most efficacious, while partial rebellion and, still more, individual violence have only a very feeble power of social transformation; they are, moreover, anti-social and anti-human, because they re-awaken the primitive savage instincts, and because they deny, in the very person whom they strike down, the principle with which they believe themselves animated—the principle of respect for human life and of solidarity.

What is the use of hypnotizing oneself with phrases about "the propaganda of the deed" and "immediate action?"

It is known that anarchists, individualists, "amorphists" and "libertarians" admit as a means of social transformation individual violence which extends from homicide to theft or estampage, even among "companions;" and this is then merely a political coloring given to criminal instincts which must not be confounded with political fanaticism, which is a very different phenomenon, common to the extreme and romantic parties of all times. A scientific examination of each case by itself, with the aid of anthropology and psychology, alone can decide whether the perpetrator of such or such a deed of violence is a congenital criminal, a criminal through insanity, or a criminal through stress of political fanaticism.

I have, in fact, always maintained, and I still maintain, that the "political criminal," whom some wish to class in a special category, does not constitute a peculiar anthropological variety, but that he can be placed under one or another of the anthropological categories of criminals of ordinary law, and particularly one of these three: the born criminal having a congenital tendency to crime, the insane-criminal, the criminal by stress of fanatical passion.

The history of the past and of these latter times afford us obvious illustrations of these several categories.

In the Middle Ages religious beliefs filled the minds of all and colored the criminal or insane excesses of many of the unbalanced. A similar insanity was the efficient cause of the more or less hysterical "sanctity" of some of the saints. At the close of our century it is the politico-social questions which absorb (and with what overwhelming interest!) the universal consciousness—which is stimulated by that universal contagion created by journalism with its great sensationalism—and these are the questions which color the criminal or insane excesses of many of the unbalanced, or which are the determining causes of instances of fanaticism occurring in men who are thoroughly honorable, but afflicted with excessive sensibility.

It is the most extreme form of these politico-social questions which, in each historical period, possesses the most intense suggestive power. In Italy sixty years ago it was Mazzinnianisme or Carbonarisme; twenty years ago, it was socialism; now it is anarchism.

It is very easy to understand how there occurred in each period, in accordance with their respective dominant tendencies, deeds of personal violence.... Felice Orsini, for example, is one of the martyrs of the Italian Revolution.

In each case of individual violence, unless one is content with the necessarily erroneous judgments begotten by emotion to reach a correct decision it is necessary to make a physio-psychical examination of the perpetrator, just as it is in the case of any other crime.

Felice Orsini was a political criminal through passion. Among the anarchist bomb-throwers or assassins of our day may be found the born criminal—who simply colors his congenital lack of the moral or social sense with a political varnish—; the insane-criminal or mattoid whose mental deficiency becomes blended with the political ideas of the period; and also the criminal through political passion, acting from sincere conviction and mentally almost normal, in whom the criminal action is determined (or caused) solely by the false idea (which socialism combats) of the possibility of effecting a social transformation by means of individual violence.[71]

But no matter whether the particular crime is that of a congenital criminal or of a madman or of a political criminal through passion, it is none the less true that personal violence, as adopted by the anarchist individualists, is simply the logical product of individualism carried to extremes and, therefore, the natural product of the existing economic organization—though its production is also favored by the "delirium of hunger," acute or chronic; but it is also the least efficacious and the most anti-human means of social transformation.[72]

But all anarchists are not individualists, amorphists or autonomists; there are also anarchist-communists.

The latter repudiates deeds of personal violence, as ordinary means of social transformation (Merlino, for example has recently stated this in his pamphlet: Necessita e base di un accordo, Prato, 1892), but even these anarchist-communists cut themselves off from Marxian socialism, both by their ultimate ideal and more especially by their method of social transformation. They combat Marxian socialism because it is law-abiding and parliamentary, and they contend that the most efficacious and the surest mode of social transformation is rebellion.

These assertions which respond to the vagueness of the sentiments and ideas of too large a portion of the working-class and to the impatience provoked by their wretched condition, may meet with a temporary, unintelligent approval, but their effect can be only ephemeral. The explosion of a bomb may indeed give birth to a momentary emotion, but it can not advance by the hundredth part of an inch the evolution in men's minds toward socialism, while it causes a reaction in feeling, a reaction in part sincere, but skilfully fomented and exploited as a pretext for repression.

To say to the laborers that, without having made ready the requisite material means, but especially without solidarity and without an intelligent conception of the goal and without a high moral purpose, they ought to rise against the classes in power, is really to play into the hands of those very classes, since the latter are sure of the material victory when the evolution is not ripe and the revolution is not ready.[73]

And so it has been possible to show in the case of the late Sicilian rebellion, in spite of all the lies of those interested in hiding the truth, that in those districts where socialism was most advanced and best understood there were no deeds of personal violence, no revolts, as, for example, among the peasants of Piana dei Greci, of whom Nicola Barbato had made intelligent socialists; while those convulsive movements occurred outside of the field of the socialist propaganda as a rebellion against the exactions of the local governments and of the camorre,[74] or in those districts where the socialist propaganda was less intelligent and was stifled by the fierce passions caused by hunger and misery.[75]

History demonstrates that the countries where revolts have been the most frequent are those in which social progress is the least advanced. The popular energies exhaust and destroy themselves in these feverish, convulsive excesses, which alternate with periods of discouragement and despair—which are the fitting environment of the Buddhist theory of electoral abstention—a very convenient theory for the conservative parties. In such countries we never see that continuity of premeditated action, slower and less effective in appearance, but in reality the only kind of action that can accomplish those things which appear to us as the miracles of history.

Therefore Marxian socialism in all countries has proclaimed that from this time forth the principal means of social transformation must be the conquest of the public powers (in local administrations as well as in national Parliaments) as one of the results of the organization of the laborers into a class-conscious party. The further the political organization of the laborers, in civilized countries, shall progress, the more one will see realized, by a resistless evolution, the socialist organization of society, at first by partial concessions, but ever growing more important, wrested from the capitalist class by the working-class (the law restricting the working-day to Eight Hours, for example), and then by the complete transformation of individual ownership into social ownership.

As to the question whether this complete transformation, which is at present being prepared for by a process of gradual evolution which is nearing the critical and decisive period of the social revolution, can be accomplished without the aid of other means of transformation—such as rebellion and individual violence—this is a question which no one can answer in advance. Marxian socialists are not prophets.

Our sincere wish is that the social revolution, when its evolution shall be ripe, may be effected peacefully, as so many other revolutions have been, without blood-shed—like the English Revolution, which preceded by a century, with its Bill of Rights, the French Revolution; like the Italian Revolution in Tuscany in 1859; like the Brazilian Revolution, with the exile of the Emperor Dom Pedro, in 1892.

It is certain that socialism by spreading education and culture among the people, by organizing the workers into a class-conscious party under its banner, is only increasing the probability of the fulfilment of our hope, and is dissipating the old forebodings of a reaction after the advent of socialism, which were indeed justified when socialism was still utopian in its means of realization instead of being, as it now is, a natural and spontaneous, and therefore inevitable and irrevocable, phase of the evolution of humanity.

Where will this social revolution start? I am firmly convinced that if the Latin peoples, being Southerners, are more ready for revolt, which may suffice for purely political transformations, the peoples of the North, the Germans and Anglo-Saxons are better prepared for the tranquil and orderly but inexorable process of the true revolution, understood as the critical phase of an organic, incomplete, preparatory evolution, which is the only effective process for a truly social transformation.

It is in Germany and England, where the greater development of bourgeois industrialism inevitably aggravates its detrimental consequences, and thereby magnifies the necessity for socialism, that the great social metamorphosis will perhaps being—though indeed it has begun everywhere—and from there it will spread across old Europe, just as at the close of the last century the signal for the political and bourgeois revolution was raised by France.

However this may be, we have just demonstrated once more the profound difference there is between socialism and anarchism—which our opponents and the servile press endeavor to confound[76] and, at all events, I have demonstrated that Marxian socialism is in harmony with modern science and is its logical continuation. That is exactly the reason why it has made the theory of evolution the basis of its inductions and why it thus marks the truly living and final phase—and, therefore, the only phase recognized by the intelligence of the collectivist democracy—of socialism which had theretofore remained floating in the nebulosities of sentiment and why it has taken as its guide the unerring compass of scientific thought, rejuvenated by the works of Darwin and Spencer.


[62] We have a typical example of this in the new Italian penal code, which, as I said before its enforcement, shows no signs of special adaptation to Italian conditions.

It might just as well be a code made for Greece or Norway, and it has borrowed from the countries of the north the system of confinement in cells, which even then in the north was recognized in all its costly absurdity as a system devised for the brutalization of men.

[63] BEBEL, Zukunftstaat und Sozialdemokratie, 1893.

[64] It is this artificial socialism which Herbert Spencer attacks.

[65] See "Socialism: a Reply to the Pope's Encyclical," by Robert Blatchford. The International Publishing Co., New York.—Tr.

[66] To this State socialism apply most of the individualist and anarchist objections of Spencer In "Man vs. State." D. Appleton & Co., New York.

You will recall on this subject the celebrated debate between Spencer and Laveleye: "The State and the Individual or Social Darwinism and Christianity," in the "Contemporary Review," 1885.

Lafargue has also replied to Spencer, but has not pointed out the fact that Spencer's criticisms apply, not to democratic socialism, our socialism, but to State socialism.

See also CICCOTTI on this subject.

[67] At the moment when I was correcting the proofs of the Italian edition of this work, M. Crispi had just proposed the "exceptional laws for the public safety," which, using the outrages of the anarchists as a pretext, aimed by this method to strike a blow at and to suppress socialism.

Repressive laws can suppress men, but not ideas. Has the failure of the exceptional laws against the socialist party in Germany been forgotten?

It is possible to increase the number of crimes, to suppress public liberties ... but that is no remedy. Socialism will continue its forward march just the same.

[68] LOMBROSO and LASCHI, Le Crime politique, etc., and the monograph of ELISEE RECLUS, Evolution et Revolution.

[69] WALTER BAGEHOT, Physics and Politics. D. Appleton & Co.

[70] It is this lack of even elementary knowledge of geology, biology, etc., which makes the vague ideal of anarchy so attractive to many men or the people with really bright minds, but with no scientific training, even though they repudiate the employment of violent methods.

In my opinion a more wide-spread instruction in the natural sciences—together with their substitution for the classics—would do more than any repressive laws to suppress the outrages of anarchy.

[71] HAMON, Les Hommes et les theories de l'anarchie, Paris, 1893.—LOMBROSO, Ultime scoperte ed applicazioni dell' antropologia criminale, Turin, 1893.

[72] At the moment when I was correcting the proofs of the Italian edition of this book, the emotion had not yet subsided which grew out of the harmless attack upon Crispi, at Rome, on the 16th of June, and especially the much keener emotion produced by the death of the President of the French Republic, Sadi Carnot, on the 24th of June.

I reproduce here, as documentary evidence, the declaration published by a section of the Socialist Party of Italian Workers in the Secolo of the 27-28 June, and distributed by thousands in Milan as a manifesto, and which was not mentioned by either the Conservative or the Progressive newspapers, who tried by their silence to perpetrate the confusion between socialism and anarchy.

Here is the declaration:

The Socialist Party to the Workingmen of Italy.—Down with assassins! "Humanity now understands that life is sacred, and does not tolerate brutal violations of this great principle which is morally the soul of socialism." C. PRAMPOLINI.

"He who struggles for the right to life, in exchange for his labor, condemns every assault upon human life,—whether it be the work of bourgeois exploitation in factories, or of the bombs or daggers of unintelligent revolutionists.

"The Socialist Party which has this principle for a shibboleth, which expects everything from the class-conscious organization of the working class, execrates the crime committed against the person of the President of the French Republic, as a brutal deed, as the negation of every principle of revolutionary logic.

"It is necessary to arouse in the proletariat the consciousness of their own rights, to furnish them the structure of organization, and to induce them to function as a new organism. It is necessary to conquer the public powers by the means which modern civilization gives us.

"To revolt, to throw at haphazard a bomb among the spectators in a theatre, or to kill an individual, is the act of barbarians or of ignorant people. The Socialist Party sees in such deeds the violent manifestation of bourgeois sentiments.

"We are the adversaries of all the violences of bourgeois exploitation, of the guillotine, of musketry discharges (aimed at strikers, etc.), and of anarchist outrages. Hurrah for Socialism!"

Socialism represses all these sterile and repugnant forms of individual violence.

Carnot's death accomplished nothing except to arouse a transitory atavistic hatred of Italians. Afterward, the French Republic elected another President and everything was as before. The same may be said of Russia after the assassination of Alexander II.

But the question may be regarded from another point of view, which the conservatives, the progressives and the radicals too completely forget.

The very day of these outrages two explosions of gas took place, one in the mines of Karwinn (Austria), and the other in the mines of Cardiff (England); the first caused the death of 257 miners ..., the second the death of 210!!

Although the death of an honorable man, like Carnot, may be regretted, it is not to be compared to the mass of human sufferings, misery and woe which fell upon these 467 working-class families, equally innocent as he.

It will be said, it is true, that the murder of Carnot was the voluntary act of a fanatic, while no one directly killed these 467 miners!—And certainly this is a difference.

But it must be remarked that if the death of these 467 miners is not directly the voluntary work of any one, it is indirectly a result of individual capitalism, which, to swell its revenues, reduces expenses to the lowest possible point, does not curtail the hours of labor, and does not take all the preventive measures indicated by science and sometimes even enjoined by law, which is in such cases not respected, for the justice of every country is as flexible to accommodate the interests of the ruling class as it is rigid when applied against the interests of the working-class.

If the mines were collectively owned, it is certain the owners would be less stingy about taking all the technical preventive precautions (electric lighting, for instance), which would diminish the number of these frightful catastrophes which infinitely increase the anonymous multitude of the martyrs of toil and which do not even trouble the digestion of the share-holders in mining companies.

That is what the individualist regime gives us; all this will be transformed by the socialist regime.

[73] RIENZI, l'Anarchisme; DEVILLE, l'Anarchisme.

[74] A. ROSSI, l'Agitazione in Sicilia, Milan, 1894. COLAJANNI, In Sicilia, Rome, 1894.

[75] The camorre were tyrannical secret societies that were formerly prevalent and powerful in Italy.—Translator.

[76] I must recognize that one of the recent historians of socialism, M. l'Abbe Winterer—more candid and honorable than more than one jesuitical journalist—distinguishes always, in each country, the socialist movement from the anarchist movement.

WINTERER, le Socialisme contemporain, Paris, 1894, 2nd edition.





One of the strangest facts in the history of the scientific thought of the nineteenth century is that, though the profound scientific revolution caused by Darwinism and Spencerian evolution has reinvigorated with new youth all the physical, biological and even psychological sciences, when it reached the domain of the social sciences, it only superficially rippled the tranquil and orthodox surface of the lake of that social science par excellence, political economy.

It has led, it is true, through the initiative of Auguste Comte—whose name has been somewhat obscured by those of Darwin and Spencer, but who was certainly one of the greatest and most prolific geniuses of our age—to the creation of a new science, Sociology, which should be, together with the natural history of human societies, the crowning glory of the new scientific edifice erected by the experimental method.

I do not deny that sociology, in the department of purely descriptive anatomy of the social organism, has made great and fruitful new contributions to contemporary science, even developing into some specialized branches of sociology, of which criminal sociology, thanks to the labors of the Italian school, has become one of the most important results.

But when the politico-social question is entered upon, the new science of sociology is overpowered by a sort of hypnotic sleep and remains suspended in a sterile, colorless limbo, thus permitting sociologists to be in public economy, as in politics, conservatives or radicals, in accordance with their respective whims or subjective tendencies.

And while Darwinian biology, by the scientific determination of the relations between the individual and the species, and evolutionist sociology itself by describing in human society the organs and the functions of a new organism, was making the individual a cell in the animal organism, Herbert Spencer was loudly proclaiming his English individualism extending to the most absolute theoretical anarchism.

A period of stagnation was inevitable in the scientific productive activity of sociology, after the first original observations in descriptive social anatomy and in the natural history of human societies. Sociology represented thus a sort of arrested development in experimental scientific thought, because those who cultivated it, wittingly or unwittingly, recoiled before the logical and radical conclusions that the modern scientific revolution was destined to establish in the social domain—the most important domain of all if science was to become the handmaid of life, instead of contenting itself with that barren formula, science for the sake of science.

The secret of this strange phenomenon consists not only in the fact that, as Malagodi said,[77] sociology is still in the period of scientific analysis and not yet in that of synthesis, but especially in the fact that the logical consequences of Darwinism and of scientific evolutionism applied to the study of human society lead inexorably to socialism, as I have demonstrated in the foregoing pages.


[77] MALAGODI, Il Socialismo e la scienza. In Critica Sociale, Aug. 1, 1892.



To Karl Marx is due the honor of having scientifically formulated these logical applications of experiential science to the domain of social economy. Beyond doubt, the exposition of these truths is surrounded, in his writings, with a multitude of technical details and of apparently dogmatic formulae, but may not the same be said of the FIRST PRINCIPLES of Spencer, and are not the luminous passages on evolution in it surrounded with a dense fog of abstractions on time, space, the unknowable, etc.? Until these last few years a vain effort was made to consign, by a conspiracy of silence, the masterly work of Marx to oblivion, but now his name is coming to rank with those of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer as the three Titans of the scientific revolution which begot the intellectual renaissance and gave fresh potency to the civilizing thought of the latter half of the nineteenth century.

The ideas by which the genius of Karl Marx completed in the domain of social economy the revolution effected by science are in number three.

The first is the discovery of the law of surplus-labor. This law gives us a scientific explanation of the accumulation of private property not created by the labor of the accumulator; as this law has a more peculiarly technical character, we will not lay further stress upon it here, as we have given a general idea of it in the preceding pages.

The two other Marxian theories are more directly related to our observations on scientific socialism, since they undoubtedly furnish us the sure and infallible key to the life of society.

I allude, first, to the idea expressed by Marx, as long ago as 1859, in his Critique de l'economie politique, that the economic phenomena form the foundation and the determining conditions of all other human or social manifestations, and that, consequently, ethics, law and politics are only derivative phenomena determined by the economic factor, in accordance with the conditions of each particular people in every phase of history and under all climatic conditions.

This idea which corresponds to that great biological law which states the dependence of the function on the nature and capacities of the organ and which makes each individual the result of the innate and acquired conditions of his physiological organism, living in a given environment, so that a biological application may be given to the famous saying: "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are,"—this sublime idea which unfolds before our eyes the majestic drama of history, no longer as the arbitrary succession of great men on the stage of the social theatre, but rather as the resultant of the economic conditions of each people, this sublime idea, after having been partially applied by Thorold Rogers[78] has been so brilliantly expounded and illustrated by Achille Loria,[79] that I believe it unnecessary to say anything more about it.

One idea, however, still appears to me necessary to complete this Marxian theory, as I remarked in the first edition of my book: Socialismo e criminalita.

It is necessary, indeed, to rid this impregnable theory of that species of narrow dogmatism with which it is clothed in Marx and still more in Loria.

It is perfectly true that every phenomenon, as well as every institution—moral, juridical or political—is simply the result of the economic phenomena and conditions of the transitory physical and historical environment. But, as a consequence of that law of natural causality which tells us that every effect is always the resultant of numerous concurrent causes and not of one cause alone, and that every effect becomes in its turn a cause of other phenomena, it is necessary to amend and complete the too rigid form that has been given to this true idea.

Just as all the psychical manifestations of the individual are the resultant of the organic conditions (temperament) and of the environment in which he lives, in the same way, all the social manifestations—moral, juridical or political—of a people are the resultant of their organic conditions (race) and of the environment, as these are the determining causes of the given economic organization which is the physical basis of life.

In their turn, the individual psychical conditions become causes and effect, although with less power, the individual organic conditions and the issue of the struggle for life. In the same way, the moral, juridical and political institutions, from effects become causes (there is, in fact, for modern science no substantial difference between cause and effect, except that the effect is always the latter of two related phenomena, and the cause always the former) and react in their turn, although with less efficacy, on the economic conditions.

An individual who has studied the laws of hygiene may influence beneficently, for instance, the imperfections of his digestive apparatus, but always within the very narrow limits of his organic capacities. A scientific discovery, an electoral law may have an effect on industry or on the conditions of labor, but always within limits fixed by the framework of the fundamental economic organization. This is why moral, juridical and political institutions have a greater influence on the relations between the various subdivisions of the class controlling the economic power (capitalists, industrial magnates, landed proprietors) than on the relations between the capitalist—property-owners on the one side and the toilers on the other.

It suffices here for me to have mentioned this Marxian law and I will refer to the suggestive book of Achille Loria the reader who desires to see how this law scientifically explains all the phenomena, from the most trivial to the most imposing, of the social life. This law is truly the most scientific and the most prolific sociological theory that has ever been discovered by the genius of man. It furnishes, as I have already remarked, a scientific, physiological, experiential explanation of social history in the most magnificent dramas as well as of personal history in its most trivial episodes—on explanation in perfect harmony with the entire trend—which has been described as materialistic—of modern scientific thought.[80]

If we leave out of consideration the two unscientific explanations of free will and divine providence, we find that two one-sided and therefore incomplete, although correct and scientific, explanations of human history have been given. I refer to the physical determinism of Montesquieu, Buckle and Metschnikoff, and to the anthropological determinism of the ethnologists who find the explanation of the events of history in the organic and psychical characteristics of the various races of men.

Karl Marx sums up, combines and completes these two theories by his economic determinism.

The economic conditions—which are the resultant of the ethnical energies and aptitudes acting in a given physical environment—are the determining basis of all the moral, juridical and political phenomenal manifestations of human life, both individual and social.

This is the sublime conception, the fact-founded and scientific Marxian theory, which fears no criticism, resting as it does on the best established results of geology and biology, of psychology and sociology.

It is thanks to it that students of the philosophy of law and sociology are able to determine the true nature and functions of the State which, as it is nothing but "society juridically and politically organized," is only the secular arm used by the class in possession of the economic power—and consequently of the political, juridical and administrative power—to preserve their own special privileges and to postpone as long as possible the evil day when they must surrender them.

The other sociological theory by which Karl Marx has truly dissipated the clouds which had ere then darkened the sky of the aspirations of socialism, and which has supplied scientific socialism with a political compass by the use of which it can guide its course, with complete confidence and certainty, in the struggles of every-day life, is the great historical law of class struggles.[81] ("The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." Communist Manifesto. Marx and Engels. 1848.)

If it is granted that the economic conditions of social groups, like those of individuals, constitute the fundamental, determining cause of all the moral, juridical and political phenomena, it is evident that every social group, every individual will be led to act in accordance with its or his economic interest, because the latter is the physical basis of life and the essential condition of all other development. In the political sphere, each social class will be inclined to pass laws, to establish institutions and to perpetuate customs and beliefs which, directly or indirectly subserve its interests.

These laws, these institutions, these beliefs, handed down by inheritance or tradition, finally obscure or conceal their economic origin, and philosophers and jurists and often even the laity defend them as truths, subsisting by virtue of their own intrinsic merits, without seeing their real source, but the latter—the economic sub-stratum—is none the less the only scientific explanation of these laws, institutions and beliefs. And in this fact consists the greatness and strength of the perspicacious conception of the genius of Marx.[82]

As in the modern world there are now but two classes, with subordinate varieties,—on the one side the workers to whatever category they belong, and on the other the property owners who do not work,—the socialist theory of Marx leads us to this evident conclusion: since political parties are merely the echoes and the mouth-pieces of class interests—no matter what the subvarieties of these classes may be—there can be substantially only two political parties: the socialist labor party and the individualist party of the class in possession of the land and the other means of production.

The difference in the character of the economic monopoly may cause, it is true, a certain diversity of political color, and I have always contended that the great landed proprietors represent the conservative tendencies of political stagnation, while the holders of financial or industrial capital represent in many instances the progressive party, driven by its own nature to petty innovations of form, while finally those who possess only an intellectual capital, the liberal professions, etc., may go to the extreme length of political radicalism.

On the vital question—that is to say on the economic question of property—conservatives, progressives and radicals are all individualists. On this point they are all, in their essential nature of the same social class and, in spite of certain sentimental sympathies, the adversaries of the working class and of those who, although born on the other shore, have embraced the political programme of that class, a programme necessarily corresponding to the primordial economic necessity—that is to say, the socialization of the land and the means of production with all the innumerable and radical moral, juridical and political transformations, which this socialization will inevitably bring to pass in the social world.

This is why contemporary political life cannot but degenerate into the most sterile bysantinisme and the most corrupt strife for bribes and spoils, when it is confined to the superficial skirmishes between individualist parties, which differ only by a shade and in their formal names, but whose ideas are so similar that one often sees radicals and progressives less modern than many conservatives.

There will be a new birth of political life only with the development of the socialist party, because, after the disappearance from the political stage of the historical figures of the patriots (the founders of modern Italy) and of the personal reasons which split up the representatives into different political groups, the formation of one single individualist party will become necessary, as I declared in the Italian Chamber on the 20th of December, 1893.

The historical duel will then be begun, and the Class Struggle will then display on the field of politics all its beneficent influence. Beneficent, I say, because the class struggle must be understood not in the contemptible sense of a Saturnalia of fist-fights and outrages, of malevolence and personal violence, but must be worthily conceived as a great social drama. With all my heart I hope that this conflict may be settled, for the progress of civilization, without bloody convulsions, but historical destiny has decreed the conflict, and it is not given to us or to others to avert or postpone it.

It follows from all that we have just said that these ideas of political socialism, because they are scientific, dispose their partisans both to personal tolerance and to theoretical inflexibility.[83] This is also a conclusion reached by experimental psychology in the domain of philosophy. However great our personal sympathies may be for such or such a representative of the radical faction of the individualist party (as well as for every honorable and sincere representative of any scientific, religious or political opinion whatsoever), we are bound to recognize that there are on the side of socialism no partiti affini.[84] It is necessary to be on one side or the other—individualist or socialist. There is no middle ground. And I am constantly growing more and more convinced that the only serviceable tactics for the formation of a socialist party likely to live, is precisely that policy of theoretical inflexibility and of refusing to enter into any "alliance" with partiti affini, as such an alliance is for socialism only a "false placenta" for a fetus that is unlikely to live.

The conservative and the socialist are the natural products of the individual character and the social environment. One is born a conservative or an innovator just as one is born a painter or a surgeon. Therefore the socialists have no contempt for or bitterness toward the sincere representatives of any faction of the conservative party, though they combat their ideas unrelentingly. If such or such a socialist shows himself intolerant, if he abuses his opponents, this is because he is the victim of a passing emotion or of an ill-balanced temperament; it is, therefore, very excusable.

The thing that provokes a smile of pity is to see certain conservatives "young in years, but old in thought"—for conservatism in the young can be nothing but the effect of calculating selfishness or the index of psychical anemia—have an air of complacency or of pity for socialists whom they consider, at best, as "misled," without perceiving that what is normal is for the old to be conservatives, but that young conservatives can be nothing but egoists who are afraid of losing the life of idle luxury into which they were born or the advantages of the orthodox fashion of dividing (?) the fruits of labor. Their hearts at least, if not their brains, are abnormally small. The socialist, who has everything to lose and nothing to gain by boldly declaring his position and principles, possesses by contrast all the superiority of a disinterested altruism, especially when having been born in the aristocratic or the bourgeois class he has renounced the brilliant pleasure of a life of leisure to defend the cause of the weak and the oppressed.[85]

But, it is said, these bourgeois socialists act in this way through love of popularity! This is a strange form of selfishness, at all events, which prefers to the quickly reaped rewards and profits of bourgeois individualism, "the socialist idealism" of popular sympathy, especially when it might gain this sympathy by other means which would compromise it less in the eyes of the class in power.

Let us hope, in concluding, that when the bourgeoisie shall have to surrender the economic power and the political power in order that they may be used for the benefit of all in the new society and that, as Berenini recently said, victors and vanquished may really become brothers without distinction of class in the common assured enjoyment of a mode of life worthy of human beings, let us hope that in surrendering power, the bourgeoisie will do it with that dignity and self-respect which the aristocracy showed when it was stripped of its class privileges by the triumphant bourgeoisie at the time of the French Revolution.

It is the truth of the message of socialism and its perfect agreement with the most certain inductions of experimental science which explain to us not only its tremendous growth and progress, which could not be merely the purely negative effect of a material and moral malady rendered acute by a period of social crisis, but above all it explains to us that unity of intelligent, disciplined, class-conscious solidarity which presents, in the world-wide celebration of the first of May, a moral phenomenon of such grandeur that human history presents no parallel example, if we except the movement of primitive Christianity which had, however, a much more restricted field of action than contemporary socialism.

Henceforth—disregarding the hysterical or unreasoning attempts to revert from bourgeois scepticism to mysticism as a safeguard against the moral and material crisis of the present time, attempts which make us think of those lascivious women who become pious bigots on growing old[86]—henceforth both partisans and adversaries of socialism are forced to recognize the fact that, like Christianity at the dissolution of the Roman world, Socialism constitutes the only force which restores the hope of a better future to the old and disintegrating human society—a hope no longer begotten by a faith inspired by the unreasoning transports of sentiment, but born of rational confidence in the inductions of modern experimental science.



[78] J. E. TH. ROGERS, The Economic Interpretation of History, London, 1888.

[79] LORIA, Les Bases economiques de la constitution sociale, 2nd edition, Paris, 1894. (This work is available in English under the title: "The Economic Foundations of Society." Swan Sonnenschein, London.—Tr.)

To the general idea of Karl Marx, Loria adds a theory about "the occupation of free land," which is the fundamental cause of the technical explanation of the different econo-micro-social organizations, a theory which he has amply demonstrated in his Analisi della proprieta capitalistica, Turin, 1892.

[80] It is seen what our judgment must be regarding the thesis maintained by Ziegler, in his book: La question sociale est une question morale (The social question is a moral question). French trans., Paris, 1894. Just as psychology is an effect of physiology, so the moral phenomena are effects of the economic facts. Such books are only intended, more or less consciously, to divert attention from the vital point of the question, which is that formulated by Karl Marx.

See on our side, DE GREEF, l'Empirieme, l'utopie et le socialisme scientifique, Revue Socialiste, Aug., 1886, p. 688.

[81] As proof of that conspiracy of silence about the theories of Karl Marx, it suffices for me to point out that the historians of socialism generally mention only the technical theory of surplus-labor, and ignore the two other laws: (1) the determination of social phenomena and institutions by economic conditions, and (2) the Class Struggle.

[82] The votes on measures imposing taxes in the legislative bodies of all countries afford obvious illustrations of this principle. (The alignment of forces in the struggle for the income tax under the late administration of President Cleveland, is a very striking instance.—Tr.)

[83] If uncompromisingness was an English word, it would express the thought more clearly and strongly.—Tr.

[84] Parties related by affinity of object, tactics, or, more especially, of immediate demands.—Tr.

[85] See the lectures of DE AMICIS. Osservazioni sulla questione sociale, Lecce, 1894. LABRIOLA, Il Socialismo, Rome, 1890. G. OGGERO, Il Socialismo, 2nd edition, Milan, 1894.

[86] There are, however, certain forms of this mysticism which appeal to our sympathies very strongly. Such forms I will call social mysticism. We may instance the works of Tolstoi, who envelops his socialism with the doctrine of "non-resistance to evil by violent means," drawn from the Sermon on the Mount.

Tolstoi is also an eloquent anti-militarist, and I am pleased to see quoted in his book le Salut est en vous, Paris, 1894, a passage from one of my lectures against war.

But he maintains a position aloof from contemporary experimental science, and his work thus fails to reach the mark.


Editor, etc.


I have read in your journal a letter from Mr. Herbert Spencer in which he, relying on indirect information conveyed to him, regarding my book, Socialism and Modern Science, expresses "his astonishment at the audacity of him who has made use of his name to defend socialism."

Permit me to say to you that no socialist has ever dreamt of making Mr. Spencer (who is certainly the greatest of living philosophers) pass as a partisan of socialism. It is strange, indeed, that anyone could have been able to make him believe that there is in Italy enough ignorance among writers as well as among readers for one to misuse so grotesquely the name of Herbert Spencer, whose extreme individualism is known to all the world.

But the personal opinion of Herbert Spencer is a quite different thing from the logical consequence of the scientific theories concerning universal evolution, which he has developed more fully and better than anyone else, but of which he has not the official monopoly and whose free expansion by the labor of other thinkers he can not inhibit.

I myself, in the preface of my book, pointed out that Spencer and Darwin stopped half-way on the road to the logical consequences of their doctrines. But I also demonstrated that these very doctrines constituted the scientific foundation of the socialism of Marx, the only one who, by rising above the sentimental socialism of former days, has arranged in a systematic and orderly fashion the facts of the social economy, and by induction drawn from them political conclusions in support of the revolutionary method of tactics as a means of approach to a revolutionary goal.

As regards Darwinism, being unable to repeat here the arguments which are already contained in my book and which will be more fully developed in the second edition, it suffices for me to remind you—since it has been thought fit to resort to arguments having so little weight as appeals to the authority of individuals—that, among many others, the celebrated Virchow foresaw, with great penetration, that Darwinism would lead directly to socialism, and let me remind you that the celebrated Wallace, Darwinian though he is, is a member of the English League for the Nationalization of the Land, which constitutes one of the fundamental conclusions of socialism.[88]

And, from another point of view, what is the famous doctrine of "class-struggle" which Marx revealed as the positive key of human history, but the Darwinian law of the "struggle for life" transformed from a chaotic strife between individuals to a conflict between collectivities?

Just the same as every individual, every class or social group struggles for its existence. And just as the bourgeoisie struggled against the clergy and the aristocracy, and triumphed in the French Revolution, in the same way to-day the international proletariat struggles, and not by the use of violence, as is constantly charged against us, but by propaganda and organization for its economic and moral existence at present so ill assured and depressed to so sadly low a plane.

As regards the theory of evolution, how can any one not see that it most flagrantly contradicts the classical theories of political economy, which looks upon the basic laws of the existing economic organization as eternal and immutable laws?

Socialism, on the contrary, maintains that the economic institutions and the juridical and political institutions are only the historical product of their particular epoch, and that therefore they are changing, since they are in a state of continuous evolution, which causes the present to differ from the past, just as the future will be different from the present.

Herbert Spencer believes that universal evolution dominates over all orders of phenomena, with the exception of the organization of property, which he declares is destined to exist eternally under its individualistic form. The socialists, on the contrary, believe that the organization of property will inevitably undergo—just as all other institutions—a radical transformation, and, taking into consideration its historical transformations, they show that the economic evolution is marching and will march faster and faster—as a consequence of the increased evils of individualist concentration—toward its goal, the complete socialization of the means of production which constitute the physical basis of the social and collective life, and which must not and can not therefore remain in the hands of a few individuals.

Between these two doctrines it is not difficult to decide which is the more in harmony with the scientific theory of physical and social evolution.

In any case, with all the respect due to our intellectual father, Herbert Spencer, but also with all the pride to which my scientific studies and conscience give me the right, I am content with having repelled the anathema which Herbert Spencer—without having read my book and on indirect and untrustworthy information—has thought proper to hurl with such a dogmatic tone against a scientific thesis which I have affirmed—not merely on the strength of an ipse dixi (a mode of argument which has had its day)—but which I have worked out and supported with arguments which have, up to this time, awaited in vain a scientific refutation.


Rome, June, 1895.


[87] This appendix is a copy of a letter addressed by M. Ferri to an Italian newspaper which had printed a letter addressed by Herbert Spencer to M. Fiorentino.

[88] Wallace has advanced beyond this "half way house," and now calls himself a Socialist.—Tr.



Among the numerous publications which, for or against socialism, have appeared in Italy since my Socialismo e scienza positiva[90]—which demonstrated the agreement of socialism with the fundamental lines of contemporary scientific thought—the book of Baron Garofalo was looked forward to with eager interest. It received attention both because of the fame of the author and the open and radical disagreement which its publication made manifest in the ranks of the founders of the school of positive criminology, formerly united in such close bonds in the propaganda and defense of the new science—criminal anthropology and sociology—created by M. Lombroso.

It is true that the scientific union between the founders of the new Italian school of criminology formed an alliance, but they were never in perfect unison.

M. Lombroso gave to the study of crime as a natural and social phenomenon the initial impulse, and brilliantly supported the correctness of this conception by his fruitful anthropological and biological investigations. I contributed the systematic, theoretical treatment of the problem of human responsibility, and my psychological and sociological studies enabled me to classify the natural causes of crime and the anthropological categories of criminals. I showed the predominant role of social prevention—quite a different thing from police prevention—of criminality, and demonstrated the infinitesimal influence of repression, which is always violent and only acts after the mischief has been done.

M. Garofalo—though he was in accord with us on the subject of the diagnosis of criminal pathology—contributed nevertheless a current of ideas peculiar to himself, ideas more metaphysical and less heterodox; such, for instance, as the idea that the anomaly shown by the criminal is only a "moral anomaly;" that religion has a preventive influence on criminality; that severe repression is, at all events, the effective remedy; that misery (poverty) it not only not the sole and exclusive factor in producing crime (which I always maintained and still maintain), but that it has no determining influence on crime; and that popular education, instead of being a preventive means, is, on the contrary, an incentive, etc.

These ideas, in evident disagreement with the inductions of biology and of criminal psychology and sociology—as I have elsewhere demonstrated—nevertheless did not prevent harmony among the positivists of the new school. In fact, these personal and antiquated conceptions of M. Garofalo passed almost unnoticed. His action was especially notable by reason of the greater importance and development he gave to the purely juridical inductions of the new school, which he systematized into a plan of reforms in criminal law and procedure. He was the jurist of the new school, M. Lombroso was the anthropologist, and I the sociologist.

But while in Lombroso and myself the progressive and heterodox tendency—extending even to socialism—became more and more marked, it could already be foreseen that in M. Garofalo the orthodox and reactionary tendencies would prevail, thus leading us away from that common ground on which we have fought side by side, and might still so fight. For I do not believe that these disagreements concerning the social future must necessarily prevent our agreement on the more limited field of the present diagnosis of a phenomenon of social pathology.

* * * * *

After the explanation of this personal matter, we must now examine the contents of this "Superstition socialiste," in order to see, in this schism of the scientific criminologists, which side has followed most systematically the method of experimental science, and traced with the most rigorous exactness the trajectory of human evolution.

We must see who is the more scientific, he who in carrying the experimental science beyond the narrow confines of criminal anthropology and applying it in the broad field of social science, accepts all the logical consequences of scientific observations and gives his open adherence to Marxian socialism—or he who while being a positivist and innovator in one special branch of science, remains a conservative in the other branches, to which he refuses to apply the positive method, and which he does not study with a critical spirit, but in which he contents himself with the easy and superficial repetition of trite commonplaces.

To those familiar with the former work of the author, this book, from the first page to the last, presents a striking contrast between M. Garofalo, the heterodox criminologist ever ready to criticize with penetration classical criminology, always in revolt against the threadbare commonplaces of juridical tradition, and M. Garofalo, the anti-socialist, the orthodox sociologist, the conservative follower of tradition, who finds that all is well in the world of to-day. He who distinguished himself before by the tone of his publications, always serene and dignified, now permits us to think, that he is less convinced of the correctness of his position than he would have us believe, and to cover up this deficiency of conviction screams and shouts at the top of his voice.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse