Socialism and Modern Science (Darwin, Spencer, Marx)
by Enrico Ferri
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For instance, on page 17, in a style which is neither aristocratic nor bourgeois, he writes that "Bebel had the impudence to defend the Commune in a public session of the Reichstag;" and he forgets that the Commune of Paris is not to be judged historically by relying solely upon the revolting impressions left upon the mind by the artificial and exaggerated accounts of the bourgeois press of that time. Malon and Marx have shown by indisputable documentary evidence and on impregnable historical grounds what the verdict on the Commune of the impartial judgment must be, in spite of the excesses which—as M. Alfred Maury said to me at the Pere-Lachaise, one day in 1879—were far surpassed by the ferocity of a bloody and savage repression.

In the same way, on pages 20-22, he speaks (I can not see why) of the "contempt" of Marxian socialists for sentimental socialism, which no Marxian has ever dreamt of despising, though we recognize it is little in harmony with the systematic, experimental method of social science.

And, on page 154, he seems to think, he is carrying on a scientific discussion when he writes: "In truth, when one sees men who profess such doctrines succeed in obtaining a hearing, one is obliged to recognize that there are no limits to human imbecility."

Ah! my dear Baron Garofalo, how this language reminds me of that of some of the classical criminologists—do you remember it?—who tried to combat the positivist school with language too much like this of yours, which conceals behind hackneyed phrases, the utter lack of ideas to oppose to the hated, but victorious heresy!

* * * * *

But aside from this language, so strange from the pen of M. Garofalo, it is impossible not to perceive the strange contrast between his critical talent and the numerous statements in this book which are, to say the least, characterized by a naivete one would never have suspected in him.

* * * * *

It is true that, on page 74, like an individualist of the good old days, and with an absolutism which we may henceforth call pre-historic, he deplores the enactment of even those civil laws which have limited the jus utendi et abutendi (freely, the right of doing what one will with one's own—Tr.), and which have "seriously maimed the institution of private property," since, he says, "the lower classes suffer cruelly, not from the existence of great fortunes, but rather from the economic embarrassment of the upper classes" (page 77). What boldness of critical thought and profundity in economic science!

And, in regard to my statement that contemporary science is altogether dominated by the idea and the fact of the social aggregate—and, therefore, of socialism—in contrast to the glorification of the individual, and, therefore, of individualism, which obtained in the Eighteenth Century, M. Garofalo replies to me that "the story of Robinson Crusoe was borrowed from a very trustworthy history," and adds that it would be possible to cite many cases of anchorites and hermits "who had no need of the company of their fellows" (page 82).

He believes that he has thus demonstrated that I was mistaken when I declared that the species is the sole eternal reality of life and that the individual—himself a biological aggregation—does not live alone and by himself alone, but only by virtue of the fact that he forms a part of a collectivity, to which he owes all the creative conditions of his material, moral and intellectual existence.

In truth, if M. Garofalo had employed such arguments to expose the absurdities of metaphysical penology, and to defend the heresies of the positive school, the latter would certainly not number him among its most eloquent and suggestive founders and champions.

* * * * *

And yet, M. Garofalo, instead of repeating these soporific banalities, ought to have been able to discuss seriously the fundamental thesis of socialism, which, through the social ownership of the land and the means of production, tends to assure to every individual the conditions of an existence more worthily human, and of a full and perfectly free development of his physical and moral personality. For then only, when the daily bread of the body and mind is guaranteed, will every man be able, as Goethe said, "to become that which he is," instead of wasting and wearing himself out in the spasmodic and exhausting struggle for daily bread, obtained too often at the expense of personal dignity or the sacrifice of intellectual aptitudes, while human energies are obviously squandered to the great disadvantage of the entire society, and all this with the appearance of personal liberty, but, in fact, with the vast majority of mankind reduced to dependence upon the class in possession of economic monopoly.

But M. Garofalo has altogether refrained from these discussions, which admit of scientific arguments on either hand. He has confined himself, on the contrary, even when he has attempted to discuss seriously, to the repetition of the most superficial commonplaces.

Thus, for example (page 92), opposing the socialists who maintain that the variations of the social environment will inevitably bring about a change in individual aptitudes and activities, he writes: "But the world can not change, if men do not first begin by transforming themselves under the influence of those two ideal factors: honor and duty."

That is the same as saying that a man must not jump into the water ... unless he has learned beforehand to swim, while remaining on land.

Nothing, on the contrary, is more in harmony with the scientific inductions of biology and sociology than the socialist idea, according to which changes in the environment cause correlative changes, both physiological and psychical, in individuals. The soul of Darwinism, is it not wholly in the variability, organic and functional, of individuals and species, under the modifying influence of the environment, fixed and transmitted by natural selection? And neo-Darwinism itself, does it not consist wholly in the constantly increasing importance attributed to the changes in the environment as explanations of the variations of living beings?

And, in the realm of sociology, just as, according to the repeated and unquestioned demonstrations of Spencer, in the passage of human societies from the military type to the industrial type—as Saint-Simon had already pointed out—a change, a process of adaptation, also takes place in that "human nature" which the anti-socialists would have us believe is a fixed and immutable thing, like the "created species" of old-school biology; in the same way, in the gradual transition to a collectivist organization, human nature will necessarily adapt itself to the modified social conditions.

Certainly, human nature will not change in its fundamental tendencies; and, as an illustration, man like the animals will always shun suffering and strive after pleasure, since the former is a diminution and the latter an augmentation of life; but this is not inconsistent with the fact that the application and direction of these biological tendencies can and must change with the changes in the environment. So that I have been able elsewhere to demonstrate that individual egoism will, indeed, always exist, but it will act in a profoundly different fashion, in a society whose conscious goal will be true human solidarity, from the way in which it acts in the individualist and morally anarchical world of to-day, a world in which every man, by the working of what is called "free competition," is forced to follow the impulses of his anti-social egoism, that is to say, to be in conflict, and not in harmony, with the wants and the tendencies of the other members of society.

But the repetition of worn-out commonplaces reaches its climax when M. Garofalo—surely, through inattention—writes these marvelous lines:

"Apparently, many young men of aristocratic families do not work. It is nevertheless more correct to say that they do not do any productive labor for themselves, but they work just the same (!!), and this for the benefit of others!

"In fact, these gentlemen 'of leisure' are generally devoted to sport—hunting, yachting, horseback riding, fencing—or to travel, or to dilettantisme in the arts, and their activity, unproductive for themselves, provides an immense number of persons with profitable occupations" (page 183).

One day, when I was studying the prisoners in a jail, one of them said to me: Such an outcry is made against the criminals because they do not work; but if we did not exist, "an immense number of persons"—jailers, policemen, judges and lawyers—would be without a "profitable occupation!"

* * * * *

After having noted these specimens of unscientific carelessness, and before entering upon the examination of the few scientific arguments developed by M. Garofalo, it will be well, to aid us in forming a general judgment on his book, to show how far he has forgotten the most elementary rules of the scientific method.

And it will be useful also to add a few examples of mistakes in regard to facts bearing either on science in general, or on the doctrines combated by him.

On page 41, speaking of the scientific work of Marx with a disdain which can not be taken seriously, since it is too much like that of the theologians for Darwin or that of the jurists for Lombroso, he reasons in this curious fashion:

"Starting from the hypothesis that all private property is unjust, it is not logic that is wanting in the doctrine of Marx. But if one recognizes, on the contrary, that every individual has a right to possess some thing of his own, the direct and inevitable consequence is [the rightfulness of] the profits of capital, and, therefore, the augmentation of the latter."

Certainly, if one admits a priori the right of individual property in the land and the means of production ... it is needless and useless to discuss the question.

But the troublesome fact is that all the scientific work of Marx and the socialists has been done precisely in order to furnish absolute scientific proof of the true genesis of capitalist property—the unpaid surplus-labor of the laborer—and to put an end to the old fables about "the first occupant," and "accumulated savings" which are only exceptions, ever becoming rarer.

Moreover, the negation of private property is not "the hypothesis," but the logical and inevitable consequence of the premises of facts and of historical demonstrations made, not only by Marx, but by a numerous group of sociologists who, abandoning the reticence and mental reservations of orthodox conventionalism, have, by that step, become socialists.

* * * * *

But contemporary socialism, for the very reason that it is in perfect harmony with scientific and exact thought, no longer harbors the illusions of those who fancy that to-morrow—with a dictator of "wonderful intelligence and remarkable eloquence," charged with the duty of organizing collectivism by means of decrees and regulations—we could reach the Co-operative Commonwealth at a bound, eliminating the intermediate phases. Moreover, is not the absolute and unbridled individualism of yesterday already transformed into a limited individualism and into a partial collectivism by legal limitations of the jus abutendi and by the continuous transformation into social functions or public properties of the services (lighting, water-supply, transportation, etc.), or properties (roads, bridges, canals, etc.), which were formerly private services and properties? These intermediate phases can not be suppressed by decrees, but they develop and finish their course naturally day by day, under the pressure of the economic and social conditions; but, by a natural and therefore inexorable progress, they are constantly approaching more closely that ultimate phase of absolute collectivism in the means of production, which the socialists have not invented, but the tendency toward which they have shown, and whose ultimate attainment they scientifically predict. The rate of progress toward this goal they can accelerate by giving to the proletarians, organized into a class-party, a clearer consciousness of their historic mission.

* * * * *

All through this book are scattered not only defects of method, but also actual errors in matters of fact. The book is also marred by an immanent contradiction that runs all through it, in connection with the absolutely uncompromising attitude against socialism which the author aims to maintain, but which he is unable to keep up in the face of the irresistible tendency of the facts, as we shall see in the conclusion of this analysis.

In chapter IV, M. Garofalo contends that civilization would be menaced with destruction by the elevation to power of the popular classes. M. Garofalo, who is of an old aristocratic family, declares that "the Third Estate, which should have substituted youthful energies for the feebleness and corruption of an effete and degenerate aristocracy, has shown magnified a hundred-fold the defects and corruption of the latter" (p. 206). This is certainly not a correct historical judgment; for it is certain that the Third Estate, which with the French Revolution gained political ascendancy—a political ascendancy made inevitable by its previously won economic ascendancy,—gave in the course of the Nineteenth Century a new and powerful impulse to civilization. And if to-day, after a century of undisputed domination, the bourgeoisie shows "multiplied a hundred-fold" the defects and the corruption of the aristocracy of the Eighteenth Century, this signifies simply that the Third Estate has reached the final phase of its parabola, so that the advent of a more developed social phase is becoming an imminent historical necessity.

* * * * *

Another error in criminal psychology—natural enough for idealists and metaphysicians, but which may well surprise us in an exact scientist—is the influence upon human conduct which M. Garofalo attributes to the religious sentiment. "Moral instruction has no meaning, or at least no efficacy, without a religious basis" (p. 267). And from this erroneous psychological premise, he draws the conclusion that it is necessary to return to religious instruction in the schools, "selecting the masters from among men of mature age, fathers of families or ministers of religion" (p. 268).

In combating this conclusion, truly surprising in a scientist, it is useless to recall the teachings of the experience of former times in regard to the pretended moralizing influence of the priest upon the school; and it is also unnecessary to recall the statistics of criminal assaults committed by priests condemned to celibacy. It is equally superfluous to add that at all events, in again turning the priest into a schoolmaster, it would be necessary to recommend to him never to recall the invectives of Jesus against the rich, the metaphor of the camel passing through the eye of a needle, or the still more violent invectives of the Fathers of the Church against private property; for long before Proudhon, Saint Jerome had said that "wealth is always the product of theft; if it was not committed by the present holder, it was by his ancestors," and Saint Ambrose added that "Nature has established community [of goods]; from usurpation alone is private property born."

If it is true that later on the Church, in proportion as it departed from the doctrines of the Master, preached in favor of the rich, leaving to the poor the hope of Paradise; and if it is true, as M. Garofalo says, that "the Christian philosophers exhorted the poor to sanctify the tribulations of poverty by resignation" (p. 166); it is also true that, for example, Bossuet, in one of his famous sermons, recognized that "the complaints of the poor are justified;" and he asked: "Why are conditions so unequal? We are all formed of the same dust, and nothing can justify it." So that recently, M. Giraud-Teulon, in the name of an hermaphrodite liberalism, recalled that "the right of private property is rather tolerated by the Church as an existing fact than presented as a necessary foundation of civil society. It is even condemned in its inspiring principle by the Fathers of the Church."[91]

But apart from all this, it is sufficient for me to establish that the psychological premise, from which M. Garofalo starts, is erroneous in itself.

Studying elsewhere the influence of the religious sentiment on criminality[92], I have shown by positive documentary evidence, that religious beliefs, efficacious for individuals already endowed with a normal social sense, since they add to the sanction of the moral conscience (which, however, would suffice by itself) the sanctions of the life beyond the tomb—"religion is the guarantor of justice"[93]—are, nevertheless, wholly ineffective, when the social sense, on account of some physio-psychical anomaly, is atrophied or non-existent. So that religious belief, considered as a regulator of social conduct, is at once superfluous for honorable people and altogether ineffective for those who are not honorable, if indeed it is not capable of increasing the propensity to evil by developing religious fanaticism or giving rise to the hope of pardon in the confessional or of absolution in articulo mortis, etc.

It is possible to understand—at least as an expedient as utilitarian as it is highly hypocritical—the argument of those who, atheists so far as they themselves are concerned, still wish to preserve religious beliefs for the people, because they exercise a depressing influence and prevent all energetic agitation for human rights and enjoyments here below. The conception of God as a Policeman is only one among many illusions.

* * * * *

Besides these errors of fact in the biological and psychological sciences, M. Garofalo also misstates the socialist doctrines, following the example of the opponents of the new school of criminology, who found it easier to refute the doctrines they attributed to us than to shake the doctrines we defended.

On page 14, M. Garofalo begins by stating, "the true tendency of the party known as the Workingmen's Party, is to gain power, not in the interest of all, but in order to expropriate the dominant class and to step into their shoes. They do not disguise this purpose in their programmes." This statement is found again on page 210, etc.

Now, it suffices to have read the programme of the socialist party, from the MANIFESTO of Marx and Engels down to the propagandist publications, to know, on the contrary, that contemporary socialism wishes, and declares its wish, to accomplish the general suppression of all social divisions into classes by suppressing the division of the social patrimony of production, and, therefore, proclaims itself resolved to achieve the prosperity OF ALL, and not only—as some victims of myopia continue to believe—that of a Fourth Estate, which would simply have to follow the example of the decaying Third Estate.

Starting from this fundamental datum of socialism, that every individual, unless he be a child, sick or an invalid, must work, in order to live, at one sort or another of useful labor, it follows as an inevitable consequence that, in a society organized on this principle, all class antagonism will become impossible; for this antagonism exists only when society contains a great majority who work, in order to live in discomfort, and a small minority who live well, without working.

This initial error naturally dominates the entire book. Thus, for instance, the third chapter is devoted to proving that "the social revolution planned for by the new socialists, will be the destruction of all moral order in society, because it is without an ideal to serve it as a luminous standard" (p. 159).

Let us disregard, my dear Baron, the famous "moral order" of that society which enriches and honors the well-dressed wholesale thieves of the great and little Panamas, the banks and railways, and condemns to imprisonment children and women who steal dry wood or grass in the fields which formerly belonged to the commune.

But to say that socialism is without an ideal, when even its opponents concede to it this immense superiority in potential strength over the sordid skepticism of the present world, viz., its ardent faith in a higher social justice for all, a faith that makes strikingly clear its resemblance to the regenerating Christianity of primitive times (very different from that "fatty degeneration" of Christianity, called Catholicism), to say this is truly, for a scientist, to blindly rebel against the most obvious facts of daily life.

M. Garofalo even goes so far as to say that "the want of the necessaries of life" is a very exceptional fact, and that therefore the condition of "the proletariat is a social condition like that of all the other classes, and the lack of capital, which is its characteristic, is a permanent economic condition which is not at all abnormal FOR THOSE WHO ARE USED TO IT."[94]

Then—while passing over this comfortable and egoistic quietism which finds nothing abnormal in the misery ... of others—we perceive how deficient M. Garofalo is, in the most elementary accuracy, in the ascertainment of facts when we recall the suffering and ever-growing multitude of the unemployed, which is sometimes a "local and transitory" phenomenon, but which, in its acute or chronic forms, is always the necessary and incontestable effect of capitalist accumulation and the introduction and improvement of machinery, which are, in their turn, the source of modern socialism, scientific socialism, so different from the sentimental socialism of former times.

* * * * *

But the fundamental fallacy, from which so many thinkers—M. Garofalo among them—can not free themselves, and to which I myself yielded, before I had penetrated, thanks to the Marxian theory of historic materialism—or, more exactly, of economic determinism—into the true spirit of socialist sociology, is the tendency to judge the inductions of socialism by the biological, psychological and sociological data of the present society, without thinking of the necessary changes that will be effected by a different economic environment with its inevitable concomitants or consequences, different moral and political environments.

In M. Garofalo's book we find once more this petitio principii which refuses to believe in the future in the name of the present, which is declared immutable. It is exactly as if in the earliest geological epochs it had been concluded from the flora and fauna then existing that it was impossible for a fauna and flora ever to exist differing from them as widely as do the cryptogams from the conifers, or the mammalia from the mollusca.

This confirms, once more, the observation that I made before, that to deny the truth of scientific socialism is implicitly to deny that law of universal and eternal evolution, which is the dominant factor in all modern scientific thought.

On page 16, M. Garofalo predicts that with the triumph of socialism "we shall see re-appear upon earth the reign of irrational and brutal physical force, and that we shall witness, as happens every day in the lowest strata of the population, the triumph of the most violent men." And he repeats this on pages 209-210; but he forgets that, given the socialist premise of a better organized social environment, this brutality, which is the product of the present misery and lack of education, must necessarily gradually diminish, and at last disappear.

Now, the possibility of this improvement of the social environment, which socialism asserts, is a thesis that can be discussed; but when a writer, in order to deny this possibility, opposes to the future the effects of a present, whose elimination is the precise question at issue, he falls into that insidious fallacy which it is only necessary to point out to remove all foundation from his arguments.

* * * * *

And it is as always by grace of this same fallacy that he is able to declare, on page 213, that under the socialist regime "the fine arts will be unable to exist. It is easy to say, they will henceforth be exercised and cultivated for the benefit of the public. Of what public? Of the great mass of the people deprived of artistic education?" As if, when poverty is once eliminated and labor has become less exhausting for the popular classes, the comfort and economic security, which would result from this, would not be sure to develop in them also the taste for aesthetic pleasure, which they feel and satisfy now, so far as that is possible for them, in the various forms of popular art, or as may be seen to-day it Paris and Vienna by the "Theatre socialiste" and at Brussells by the free musical matinees, instituted by the socialists and frequented by a constantly growing number of workingmen. It is just the same with regard to scientific instruction, as witness "University Extension" in England and Belgium. And all this, notwithstanding the present total lack of artistic education, but thanks to the exigence among the workers of these countries of an economic condition lees wretched than that of the agricultural or even the industrial proletariat in countries such as Italy.

And from another point of view, what are the museums if not a form of collective ownership and use of the products of art?

It is again, as always, the same fallacy which (at page 216) makes M. Garofalo write: "The history of Europe, from the fifth to the thirteenth centuries, shows us, by analogy, what would happen to the world if the lower classes should come into power.... How to explain the medieval barbarism and anarchy save by the grossness and ignorance of the conquerors? The same fate would inevitably await the modern civilization, if the controlling power should fall into the hands of the proletarians, who, assuredly, are intellectually not superior to the ancient barbarians and MORALLY ARE FAR INFERIOR TO THEM!"

Let us disregard this unjustified and unjustifiable insult and this completely erroneous historical comparison. It is enough to point out that it is here supposed that by a stroke of a magic wand "the lower classes" will be able in a single day to gain possession of power without having been prepared for this by a preliminary moral revolution, a revolution accomplished in them by the acquired consciousness of their rights and of their organic solidarity. It will be impossible to compare the proletarians in whom this moral revolution shall have taken place with the barbarians of the Middle Ages.

* * * * *

In my book Socialismo et Criminalita, published in 1883, and which to-day my adversaries, including M. Garofalo (p. 128 et seq.), try to oppose to the opinions which I have upheld in my more recent book, Socialisme et science positive (the present work), I have developed two theses:

I. That the social organization could not be suddenly changed, as was then maintained in Italy by the sentimental socialists, since the law of evolution dominates with sovereign power the human world as well as the inorganic and organic world;

II. That, by analogy, crime could not disappear absolutely from among mankind, as the Italian socialists of those days vaguely hinted.

Now, in the first place it would not have been at all inconsistent if, after having partially accepted socialism, which I had already done in 1883, the progressive evolution of my thought, after having studied the systematic, scientific form given to socialism by Marx and his co-workers, had led me to recognize (apart from all personal advantage) the complete truth of socialism. But, especially, precisely because scientific socialism (since [the work of] Marx, Engels, Malon, de Paepe, Dramard, Lanessan, Guesde, Schaeffle, George, Bebel, Loria, Colajanni, Turati, de Greef, Lafargue, Jaures, Renard, Denis, Plechanow, Vandervelde, Letourneau, L. Jacoby, Labriola, Kautsky, etc.) is different from the sentimental socialism which I had alone in mind in 1883, it is for that very reason that I still maintain to-day these two same principal theses, and I find myself in so doing in perfect harmony with international scientific socialism.

And as to the absolute disappearance of all criminality, I still maintain my thesis of 1883, and in the present book (Sec. 3), I have written that, even under the socialist regime, there will be—though infinitely fewer—some who will be conquered in the struggle for existence and that, though the chronic and epidemic forms of nervous disease, crime, insanity and suicide, are destined to disappear, the acute and sporadic forms will not completely disappear.

At this statement M. Garofalo manifests a surprise which, as I can not suppose it simulated, I declare truly inexplicable in a sociologist and a criminologist; for this reminds me too strongly of the ignorant surprise shown by a review of classical jurisprudence in regard to a new scientific fact recorded by the Archives de psychiatrie of M. Lombroso, the case being the disappearance of every criminal tendency in a woman after the surgical removal of her ovaries.

But that the trepanning of the skull in a case of traumatic epilepsy or that ovariotomy can cure the central nervous system and, therefore, restore the character and even the morality of the individual, these are facts that can be unknown only to a metaphysical idealist, an opponent of the positivist school of criminology.

And yet this is how M. Garofalo comments on my induction (p. 240); this commentary is reproduced again on pages 95, 100, 134 and 291:

"It is truly extraordinary that M. Ferri, notwithstanding that criminal anthropology, of which he has so long been (and still is) one of the most ardent partisans, should have allowed himself to be so blinded by the mirage of socialism. A statement such as that which I have quoted at first leaves the reader stunned, since he sees absolutely no connection between nervous diseases and collective ownership. It would be just as sensible to say that by the study of algebra one can make sure of one's first-born child being a male." How exactly like the remarks of the Review of jurisprudence concerning the case of the removal of the ovaries!

Now, let us see whether it is possible, by a supreme effort of our feeble intellect, to point out a connection between nervous diseases and collective ownership.

That poverty, i. e., inadequate physical and mental nutrition—in the life of the individual and through hereditary transmission—is, if not the only and exclusive cause, certainly the principal cause of human degeneration, is henceforth an indisputable and undisputed fact.

That the poverty and misery of the working class—and notably of the unhappy triad of the unemployed, the displaced [by machinery, trusts, etc.] and those who have been expropriated by taxation—is destined to disappear with the socialization of the land and the means of production:—this is the proposition that socialism maintains and demonstrates.

It is, therefore, natural that under the socialist regime, with the disappearance of poverty, there should be eliminated the principal source of popular degeneracy in the epidemic and chronic forms of diseases, crimes, insanity and suicide; this can, moreover, be seen at present—on a small scale, but clearly enough to positively confirm the general induction—since diseases [nervous], crimes, insanity and suicide increase during famines and crises, while they diminish in years when the economic conditions are less wretched.

There is still more to be said. Even among the aristocracy and bourgeoisie, no one can fail to see that the feverish competition and cannibalistic strife of our present system beget nervous disorders, crime and suicide, which would be rendered quite unnecessary by the establishment of a socialist regime, which would banish worry and uneasiness for the morrow from the human race.

There then you see established the relation between collective ownership and nervous diseases or degeneration in general, not only among the popular and more numerous classes, but also in the bourgeois and aristocratic classes.

It is, indeed, astonishing that the anti-socialist prejudice of M. Garofalo should have been strong enough to cause him to forget that truth which is nevertheless a legitimate induction of criminal biology and sociology, the truth that besides the congenital criminal there are other types of criminals who are more numerous and more directly produced by the vitiated social environment. And, finally, if the congenital criminal is not himself the direct product of the environment, he is indirectly its product through the degeneration begun in his ancestors, by some acute disease in some cases, but by debilitating poverty in the majority of cases, and afterward hereditarily transmitted and aggravated in accordance with the inexorable laws discovered by modern science.

* * * * *

M. Garofalo's book, which was announced as an assault of science upon socialism, has been, even from this point of view, a complete disappointment, as even the Italian anti-socialists have confessed in several of the most orthodox Reviews.

It now remains for me to reply briefly to his observations—and they are few and far between—on the relations which exist between contemporary socialism and the general trend and tendency of thought in the exact sciences.

Disregarding the arguments which I had developed on this subject by pointing out that there is an essential connection between economic and social transmutation (Marx) and the theories of biological transmutation (Darwin) and of universal transmutation (Spencer), M. Garofalo has thought it prudent to take up for consideration only "the struggle for existence" and the relations between "evolution and revolution."

As to the first, five pages (96-100) are enough to enable him to declare, without supporting his declaration by any positive argument which is not merely a different verbal expression of the same idea, that the Darwinian law of the struggle for existence has not undergone and can not undergo any transformation except that which will change the violent struggle into competition (the struggle of skill and intelligence) and that this law is irreconcilable with socialism; for it necessarily requires the sacrifice of the conquered, while socialism "would guarantee to all men their material existence, so they would have no cause for anxiety."

But my friend, the Baron Garofalo, quietly and completely ignores the fundamental argument that the socialists oppose to the individualist interpretation that has hitherto been given of the struggle for life and which still affects the minds of some socialists so far as to make them think that the law of the struggle for life is not true and that Darwinism is irreconcilable with socialism.

The socialists, in fact, think that the laws of life are the following, and that they are concurrent and inseparable: the struggle for existence and solidarity in the struggle against natural forces. If the first law is in spirit individualist, the second is essentially socialistic.

Now, not to repeat what I have written elsewhere, it is sufficient here for me to establish this positive fact that all human evolution is effected through the constantly increasing predominance of the law of solidarity over the law of the struggle for existence.

The forms of the struggle are transformed and grow milder, as I showed as long ago as 1883, and M. Garofalo accepts this way of looking at the matter when he recognizes that the muscular struggle is ever tending to become an intellectual struggle. But he has in view only the formal evolution; he wholly disregards the progressive decrease in the importance of the struggling function under the action of the other parallel law of solidarity in the struggle.

Here comes in that constant principle in sociology, that the social forms and forces co-exist always, but that their relative importance changes from epoch to epoch and from place to place.

Just as in the individual egoism and altruism co-exist and will co-exist always—for egoism is the basis of personal existence—but with a continuous and progressive restriction and transformation of egoism, corresponding to the expansion of altruism, in passing from the fierce egoism of savage humanity to the less brutal egoism of the present epoch, and finally to the more fraternal egoism of the coming society; in the same way in the social organism, for example, the military type and the industrial type always co-exist, but with a progressively increasing predominance of the latter over the former.

The same truth applies to the different forms of the family, and also to many other institutions, of which Spencerian sociology had given only the descriptive evolution and of which the Marxian theory of economic determinism has given the genetic evolution, by explaining that the religious and juridical customs and institutions, the social types, the forms of the family, etc., are only the reflex of the economic structure which differs in varying localities (on islands or continents, according to the abundance or scarcity of food) and also varies from epoch to epoch. And—to complete the Marxian theory—this economic structure is, in the case of each social group, the resultant of its race energies developing themselves in such or such a physical environment, at I have said elsewhere.

The same rule holds in the case of the two co-existing laws of the struggle for existence and of solidarity in the struggle, the first of which predominates where the economic conditions are more difficult; while the second predominates with the growth of the economic security of the majority. But while this security will become complete under the regime of socialism, which will assure to every man who works the material means of life, this will not exclude the intellectual forms of the struggle for existence which M. Tchisch recently said should be interpreted not only in the sense of a struggle for life, but also in the sense of a struggle for the enrichment of life.[95]

In fact, when once the material life of every one is assured, together with the duty of labor for all the members of society, man will continue always to struggle for the enrichment of life, that is to say, for the fuller development of his physical and moral individuality. And it is only under the regime of socialism that, the predominance of the law of solidarity being decisive, the struggle for existence will change its form and substance, while persisting as an eternal striving toward a better life in the solidaire development of the individual and the collectivity.

But M. Garofalo devotes more attention to the practical (?) relations between socialism and the law of evolution. And in substance, once more making use of the objection already so often raised against Marxism and its tactics, he formulates his indictment thus:

"The new socialists who, on the one hand, pretend to speak in the name of sociological science and of the natural laws of evolution, declare themselves politically, on the other hand, as revolutionists. Now, evidently science has nothing to do with their political action. Although they take pains to say that by "revolution" they do not mean either a riot or a revolt—an explanation also contained in the dictionary[96]—this fact always remains, viz.: that they are unwilling to await the spontaneous organization of society under the new economic arrangement foreseen by them in a more or less remote future. For if they should thus quietly await its coming, who among them would survive to prove to the incredulous the truth of their predictions?

It is a question then of an evolution artificially hastened, that is to say, in other words, of the use of force to transform society in accordance with their wishes." (p. 30.)

"The socialists of the Marxian school do not expect the transformation to be effected by a slow evolution, but by a revolution of the people, and they even fix the epoch of its occurence." (p. 53.)

"Henceforth the socialists must make a decision and take one horn of the dilemma or the other.

"Either they must be theoretical evolutionists, WHO WAIT PATIENTLY until the time shall be ripe;

Or, on the contrary, they must be revolutionary democrats; and if they take this horn, it is nonsense to talk of evolution, accumulation, spontaneous concentration, etc. ACCOMPLISH THEN THIS REVOLUTION, IF YOU HAVE THE POWER." (p. 151.)

I do not wish to dwell on this curious "instigation to civil war" by such an orthodox conservative as the Baron Garofalo, although he might be suspected of the not specially Christian wish to see this "revolution of the people" break out at once, while the people are still disorganized and weak and while it would be easier for the dominant class to bleed them copiously....

Let us try rather to deliver M. Garofalo from another trouble; for on page 119 he exclaims pathetically: "I declare on my honor I do not understand how a sincere socialist can to-day be a revolutionist. I would be sincerely grateful to anyone who would explain this to me, for to me this is an enigma, so great is the contradiction between the theory and the methods of the socialists."

Well then, console yourself, my excellent friend! Just as in the case of the relationship between collective ownership and human degeneration, which seemed so "enigmatical" to this same Baron Garofalo—and although he has not offered his gratitude for the solution of this enigma to the socialist Oedipus who explained it to him—here also, in the case of this other enigma, the explanation is very simple.

On the subject of the social question the attitudes assumed in the domain of science, or on the field of politics, are the following:

1st. That of the conservatives, such as M. Garofalo. These, judging the world, not by the conditions objectively established, but by their own subjective impressions, consider that they are well enough off under the present regime, and contend that everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds, and oppose in all cases, with a very logical egoism, every change which is not merely a superficial change;

2nd. That of the reformers, who, like all the eclectics, whose number is infinite, give, as the Italian proverb says, one blow to the cask and another to the hoop and do not deny—O, no!—the inconveniences and even the absurdities of the present ... but, not to compromise themselves too far, hasten to say that they must confine themselves to minor ameliorations, to superficial reforms, that is to say, to treating the symptoms instead of the disease, a therapeutic method as easy and as barren of abiding results in dealing with the social organism as with the individual organism;

3rd. That, finally, of the revolutionaries, who rightly call themselves thus because they think and say that the effective remedy is not to be found in superficial reforms, but in a radical reorganization of society, beginning at the very foundation, private property, and which will be so profound that it will truly constitute a social revolution.

It is in this sense that Galileo accomplished a scientific revolution; for he did not confine himself to reforms of the astronomical system received in his time, but he radically changed its fundamental lines. And it is in this same sense that Jacquart effected an industrial revolution, since he did not confine himself to reforming the hand-loom, as it had existed for centuries, but radically changed its structure and productive power.

Therefore, when socialists speak of socialism as revolutionary, they mean by this to describe the programme to be realized and the final goal to be attained and not—as M. Garofalo, in spite of the dictionary, continues to believe—the method or the tactics to be employed in achieving this goal, the social revolution.

And right here appears the profound difference between the method of sentimental socialism and that of scientific socialism—henceforth the only socialism in the civilized world—which has received through the work of Marx, Engels and their successors that systematic form which is the distinctive mark of all the evolutionary sciences. And that is why and how I have been able to demonstrate that contemporary socialism is in full harmony with the scientific doctrine of evolution.

Socialism is in fact evolutionary, but not in the sense that M. Garofalo prefers of "waiting patiently until the times shall be ripe" and until society "shall organize spontaneously under the new economic arrangement," as if science necessarily must consist in Oriental contemplation and academic Platonism—as it has done for too long—instead of investigating the conditions of actual, every-day life, and applying its inductions to them.

Certainly, "science for the sake of science," is a formula very satisfactory to the avowed conservatives—and that is only logical—and also to the eclectics; but modern positivism prefers the formula of "science for life's sake" and, therefore, thinks that "the ripeness of the times" and "the new economic arrangement" will certainly not be realized by spontaneous generation and that therefore it is necessary to act, in harmony with the inductions of science, in order to bring this realization to pass.

To act, but how?

There is the question of methods and tactics, which differentiates utopian socialism from scientific socialism; the former fancied it possible to alter the economic organization of society from top to bottom by the improvised miracle of a popular insurrection; the latter, on the contrary, declares that the law of evolution is supreme and that, therefore, the social revolution can be nothing but the final phase of a preliminary evolution, which will consist—through scientific study and propaganda work—in the realization of the exhortation of Marx: Proletarians of all countries, unite!

There then is the explanation of the easy enigma, presented by the fact that socialism, though revolutionary in its programme, follows the laws of evolution in its method of realization, and that is the secret of its vitality and power, and that is also what makes it so essentially different from that mystical and violent anarchism, which class prejudices or the exigencies of venal journalism assert is nothing but a consequence of socialism, while in fact it is the practical negation of socialism.

* * * * *

Finally, as a synthetic conclusion, I think it worth while to show that, while in the beginning of his book M. Garofalo starts out in open hostility to socialism with the intention of maintaining an absolutely uncompromising attitude, declaring on the first page that he has written his book "for those who are called the bourgeois," in order to dissuade them from the concessions which they themselves, in their own minds, can not prevent themselves from making to the undeniable truth of the socialist ideal, when he reaches the end of his polemic, the irresistible implications of the facts force M. Garofalo to a series of eclectic compromises, which produce on the reader, after so many accusations and threats of repression, the depressing impression of a mental collapse, as unforeseen as it is significant.

Indeed, M. Garofalo, on page 258, recognizes the usefulness of combinations of laborers to enable them "to resist unjust demands," and even declares it obligatory upon factory-owners "to assure a life-pension to their laborers who have served them long." (p. 275.) And he demands for the laborers at all events "a share in the profits" (p. 276); he recognizes also that the adult out of work and in good health has the right to assistance, no less than the sick man or the cripple (p. 281).

M. Garofalo, who by all these restrictions to his absolute individualism has permitted himself to make concessions to Socialism, which are in flagrant contradiction with his announced intention and to the whole trend of his book, ends indeed by confessing that "if the new socialists were to preach collectivism solely within the sphere of agricultural industry, it would at least be possible to discuss it, since one would not be confronted at the outset by an absurdity, as is the case in attempting to discuss universal collectivism. This is not equivalent to saying that agricultural collectivism[97] would be easily put into practice."

That is to say that there is room for compromises and that a mitigated collectivism would not be in contradiction with all the laws of science, a contradiction which it seems his entire argument was intended to establish; for M. Garofalo confines himself to remarking that the realization of collectivism in land would not be easy—a fact that no socialist has ever disputed.

There is no need for me to point out once more how this method of combating socialism, on the part of M. Garofalo, resemble that which the classical criminologists employed against the positivist school, when, after so many sweeping denials of our teachings, they came to admit that, nevertheless, some of our inductions, for example, the anthropological classification of criminals, might well be applied ... on a reduced scale, in the administration of jails and penitentiaries, but never in the provisions of the criminal law!

During many years, as a defender of the positivist school of criminology, I have had personal experience of the inevitable phases that must be passed through by a scientific truth before its final triumph—the conspiracy of silence; the attempt to smother the new idea with ridicule; then, in consequence of the resistance to these artifices of reactionary conservatism, the new ideas are misrepresented, through ignorance or to facilitate assaults upon them, and at last they are partially admitted and that is the beginning of the final triumph.

So that, knowing these phases of the natural evolution of every new idea, now when, for the second time, instead of resting upon the laurels of my first scientific victories, I have wished to fight for a second and more radical heresy; this time the victory appears to me more certain, since my opponents and my former companions in arms again call into use against it the same artifices of reactionary opposition, whose impotence I had already established on a narrower battle-field, but one where the conflict was neither less keen nor less difficult.

And so, a new recruit enlisted to fight for a grand and noble human ideal, I behold even now the spectacle of partial and inevitable concessions being wrung from those who still pretend to maintain a position of uncompromising and unbending hostility, but who are helpless before the great cry of suffering and hope which springs from the depths of the masses of mankind in passionate emotion and in intellectual striving.



[89] This appendix was written as a reply to a book by Baron Garofalo, called La Superstition socialiste. This book made quite a sensation in Italy and France, not on account of the solidity of its arguments, but merely because Garofalo had been associated with Lombroso and Ferri in founding the modern school of criminology. As Garofalo's book is practically unknown in this country, I have felt justified in making many and large omissions from this appendix. Gabriel Deville exposed the emptiness of Garofalo's pretentious book in a most brilliant open letter to the Baron, which appeared in Le Socialiste for the 15th of Sept., 1895.—Tr.

[90] The present work, which appeared in Italian in 1894, in French in 1895, and in Spanish in Madrid and Buenos-Ayres in 1895. It now appears in English for the first time.

[91] GIRAUD-TEULON, Double peril social. L'Eglise et le socialisme, Paris, 1894, p. 17.

[92] E. FERRI, l'Omicidio nell' antropologia criminale, Turin, 1895, together with Atlas and more especially Religion et Criminalite in la Revue des Revues, Oct.. 1895.

[93] DE MOLINARI, Science et Religion, Paris, 1894.

[94] Garofalo suppressed these lines in the French edition of his book.

[95] Tchisch, la Loi fondamentale de la vie, Dorpat, 1895, p. 19.

[96] And yet, how many judges have not, to the injury of the Socialists, denied this elementary truth taught by the dictionary!

[97] More correctly, collective ownership of the land.—Tr.


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