The State : Its Historic Rdle.
" A commune," they said, " only then represents the picture of a
moral whole, only then appears universal in its behaviour, like the
human mind itself, when it has admitted conflict and opposition in its
Yes, conflict, freely thrashed out, without an external power, the
State, throwing its immense weight into the balance, in favor of one of
the struggling forces.
Like those two authors, I also think that " far more misery has often
been caused by imposing peace, because in such cases contradictory
things were forcibly allied in order to create a general politic order, and
by sacrificing individualities, and little organisms, in order to absorb
them in a vast body without colour and without life."
This is why the communes,—so long as they themselves did not
strive to become States and to impose submission around them, so as to
create " a vast body without colour or life "—always grew up, always
came out younger and stronger after every struggle; this is why
they flourished at the sound of arms in the street, while two centuries later that same civilization was crumbling at the noise of wars
brought about by States.
In the commune, the struggle was for the conquest and maintenance
of the liberty of the individual, for the principle of federation, for the
right to unite and act; whereas the wars of the States aimed to destroy these liberties, to subjugate the individual, to annihilate free
agreement, to unite men in one and the same servitude before the king,
the judge, the priest, and the State.
There lies all the difference. There are struggles and conflicts that
kill. And there are those that launch humanity forwards.
In the course of the sixteenth century, modern barbarians come and
destroy the whole civilization of the cities of the Middle Ages. These
barbarians do not completely annihilate it; they cannot do so, but they
check it, at least, in its progress for two or three centuries. They drive
it in a new direction.
They fetter the individual, they take all his liberties away, they order
him to forget the unions which formerly were based on free initiative
and free agreement, and their aim is to level the whole of society in the
same submission to the master. They destroy all bonds between men,
by declaring that State and Church alone must henceforth constitute
the union between the subjects of a State; that only Church and State
have the mission of watching over industrial, commercial, judiciary