The State : IU Historic Rdle.
to exchange their fifty documents when the wind has blown down a tree
on the national route. The stamp on the documents has changed ; but
the State, its spirit, its organs, its territorial centralisation, and its
centralisation of functions, have remained unaltered. Worse than
that: like so many bloodsuckers, they extend from day to day over
Republicans (I speak of sincere ones) nourished the illusion that the
State organisation could bo utilised to operate a change in a republican
sense; and here is the result. When they ought to have destroyed the
old organisation, destroyed the State, and constructed a new organisation, by beginning at the basis itself of society—the free village commune, the free workers' union, and so on—they thought to utilise " the
organisation that already existed." And for not having understood
that you cannot make an historical institution go in any direction you
would have it go—that it must go its own way—they were swallowed up
by the institution.
And yet, in this case, there was no question of modifying the whole
of the economic relations of society, as is the case with us. It was only a question of reforming certain points in the political relations
But after this complete failure and in face of such a conclusive experience, they obstinately continue to say that the conquest of power in
the State by the people will suffice to accomplish the Social Revolution!
That the old machine, the old organism, slowly elaborated in the course
of history to mangle liberty, to crush the individual, to seat oppression
on a legal basis, to lead the brain astray in accustoming it to servitude
—will lend itself marvellously to new functions: that it will become
the instrument, the means of making a new life germinate, that it will
seat liberty and equality on an economic basis, awaken society, and
march to the conquest of a better future!... What an absurdity ! what
a miscomprehension of history!
To give free scope to Socialism, it is necessary to reconstruct society,
which is based to-day on the narrow individualism of the shopkeeper,
from top to bottom. It is not only, as they have been pleased sometimes to say in a vague metaphysical way, a question of returning to
the worker " the integral product of his work," but a question of remodelling in their entirety all relations among men, from those existing to-day between every individual and his churchwarden or his station
master, to those existing between trades, hamlets, cities and* regions.
In every street, in every hamlet, in every group of men assembled about
a factory or along a railroad, you must awairm* the creative, construct-