Edualc Reitellep defines “Quarry”

New York, 1874: Claude Pelletier, who liked to sign his books backwards, was developing his system of Atercratie—anarchy by a name with none of the baggage of the original—in a series of French-language texts, drawing heavily on familiar figures like Proudhon and Pierre Leroux. His Socialist Soirees of New York lays out the basics of atercratie, but he also wrote a long play about the Hussites which included quite a bit of commentary on 19th century socialists. And he compiled one of the various socialist dictionaries which were produced in the period. The project of producing a political program by defining keywords is one with a long history. Daniel Colson’s Petit lexique philosophique de l’anarchisme: de Proudhon à Deleuze is a modern example. The Belgian “rational socialists” produced a fascinating dictionary in which many of their critiques of Proudhon were incorporated into the definitions. There is something illuminating, and frequently delightful, in dipping into some potentially innocuous entry, and finding what deep political implications it raised for the compilers. This entry, from the single volume (Vol. 2) of Pelletier’s dictionary that I have been able to track down, is fairly pedestrian stuff, compared to some entries, but is probably useful to those who have yet to encounter this particular form of political tome. Here, for you edification, is the definition of “quarry:”

QUARRY. Location dug in the ground, where on extracts by means of shafts and galleries, or even from a single level, stone, coal and other minerals, such as lead, copper, gold, silver, etc…

Today the quarries which should belong to the nation, are abandoned to capitalists who exploit them for their own personal interests; and their private interest drives them to convert them into a monopoly in order to reap enormous profits, by augmenting, as it says in the entry for MONOPOLIZATION, the sale price of their product, and reducing the wages of their workers. It follows that they become millionaires in a few years and that against the discomfort and misery into which they cast the laborers gives rise to strikes, jealousies, hatred, and recriminations which sooner or later lead to hateful disputes and bloody conflicts: witness the coal miners’ societies of Pennsylvania and the vengeances of the Molly-Maguires.

All this would not occur if we were willing to recognize that what nature has produced and given freely to all, should not be the exclusive property of a man or of a small society of capitalists.

It is said that many of the things have been discovered only because private interests were in play and that many quarries, shafts and mines would not have been exploited, if the companies had not obtained some advantages which come to reassure them a bit about the random threats to their capital.

This is true; but it is true only because industry and its transactions rest on private credit instead of revolving on a social credit, as described in the entries BANK, CAPITAL, CREDIT and others in this Dictionary.

As long as Societies do not furnish the instruments of labor and the substratum of the products to the citizens whose industrial function will be to extract or transform them, the natural riches of the globe, which are the patrimony of all, will belong to a few of the rich and will serve to separate the people into different classes. This is obvious.

The people will be happy and free only when the oligarchs of capital, the idlers, soldiers, priests, spies and other parasites have disappeared from our midst, not as a result of a violent revolution; but by that of a new economic arrangement of the productive forces of society.

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.