Joseph Déjacque – The Human Being, II

[continued from Part I.]

No; what man wants—that is, what he who usurps the name of man wants—is not woman in all her physical and moral beauty, the woman of natural and artistic form, her face beaming with the aureole of grace, her heart sympathetic and tender, her thoughts enthusiastic, her soul enamored of poetic and humane ideals. No, that brainless booby, like a footman at a fair, wants a colored and beplumed wax figure. Like a glutton in an ecstasy before a butcher shop, he wants a quarter of veal garnished with lace.

Disgusted with the man she finds such an idiot, weary of him in whom she has sought in vain for sympathy of sentiment, history tells us—alas! I wish it were only a fable, a legend, a Bible story—the woman passes from the biped to the quadruped. Beast for beast. It is natural after all that she should permit herself to be seduced by a greater beast than herself. Then, at last, nature having endowed her with impulses and affections too robust to he extinguished by repression and abstinence, she turns disgusted from humanity and seeks in temples of superstition, in the devotees’ aberrations of mind and impulse, the food for the passional hunger of her nature. Failing to find the man of her dreams, she lavishes her affection on an imaginary god, and the priest has replaced the beast of a husband.

Ah! if there are so many abject females and so few real women, what is the cause of it? What have you to complain of Dandin-Proudhon? You wish it to be so.

I admit that you personally have fought valiantly for the revolution; you have gashed the marrow and the trunk of property and have made the noise of tumult resound afar. You have stripped off its husk and left it exposed to the gaze of the populace; you have shaken down like dead branches and leaves your powerless authoritarian antagonists and have shown the emptiness of the revamped Greek theories of the state socialists, your own included. You have drawn with you through the sinuous avenues of reform all the pack of appetites physical and moral. You have traveled the road and took the others with you. You are tired. You would like to rest, but the voice of logic urges you to follow up your revolutionary deductions and march onward, always onward, lest you be overtaken by those whom you have deluded.

Be then frankly an entire anarchist and not a quarter anarchist, an eighth anarchist, or one-sixteenth anarchist, as one is a one-fourth, one-eighth or one-sixteenth partner in trade. Go beyond the abolition of contract to the abolition not only of the sword and of capital, but also of property and of authority in all its forms. Then you will have arrived at the anarchist community; that is to say, the social state where each one is free to produce or consume according to his will or his fancy without controlling, or being controlled by any other person whatever; where the balance of production and consumption is established naturally, no longer by the restrictive laws and arbitrary force of others, but lb the free exercise of industry prompted by the needs and desires of each individual. The sea of humanity needs no dikes. Give its tides full sweep and each day they will find their level.

Do I need, for example, one sun for myself, one river for myself, one forest for my own, or all the houses in all the streets for my own? Have I the right to become the proprietor of them to the exclusion of others, especially when I do not need them? If I have not that right, is it any more just for me to wish, as under the system of contracts, to measure to each one—according to his accidental ability to produce—just what proportion he should receive of all things; how much of the sun’s rays he is entitled to, how many cubic feet of air and of water shall he allotted to him, or the extent of his promenades in the forests; what number or the parts of the houses he may occupy, what streets he may walk in and what streets he must keep out of?

With or without contract, will I consume more than is good for me? Will I take all of the sunlight, all of the air, all of the water? Will I monopolize all of the shade of the trees, all of the streets of the city, all of the houses or all of the rooms of the houses? And if I have a right to the productions of nature, such as the light and the air, have I not also a right to manufactured products, such as the street or the house? Of what use then is a contract that can add nothing to my liberty, but on the contrary most certainly will restrain it?

And as for production, will the activity of my nature be developed all the more by being restrained? It is absurd to assert such a thing. the so-called free workman even in the present state of society, produces more and does his work better than the negro slave. How would it be if he were really and universally free? His productive power would increase one-hundred fold.

But the idlers? you say. Idlers are produced by the abnormal conditions of society. That is to say, when idleness is held in honor and labor in contempt it is not surprising that men are reluctant to engage in labor which repays them in bitter fruit. But in an anarchist community, with the arts and sciences developed as they will be developed in our days, nothing of the kind could he seen. Of course there would be, as there are today, some who would be greater producers than others, and there would he some who would be greater consumers than others, but those most active in producing would also be most active in consuming. The equation is natural. Do you demand proof? Take one hundred workmen at random and you will find the greatest producers are the greatest consumers.

The human organism is supplied with certain precious implements the use of which is genuine pleasure. There are the arms, the hands, the heart, the brain—all made for use—and can you imagine a man voluntarily will let such precious tools rust? In the free state of nature with its marvels of industry and science where all calls to activity and joyous life, in such a state do you imagine a human being would seek for happiness in imbecile idleness? Nonsense. It would be impossible.

On the soil of true anarchy, of absolute freedom, there would be such diversity among the people—diversity of age, of sex and of tastes—that none would he without congenial society. Equality is not uniformity. That diversity of people and of each succeeding moment of time is just what makes all governments, all constitutions and all contracts destructive of liberty. How can you bind yourself for a year, for a day, for an hour, when in an hour, a day or a year you may think entirely different from the way you thought at the time of making the contract?

Under the conditions of radical anarchy there will be some women, as there will he some men, of more relative worth than others. There will be children and there will be old folks, but all, without distinction, will be none the less human beings and they should he equally free to move in the circles of their mutual attractions, free to produce and consume as they see fit, without any parental, marital or governmental authority, without any legal regulations to restrain or to hinder them.

In a society thus constituted—and you ought to know it, you anarchist who pride yourself as a logician—what would you have to say of the sexual infirmity of either the female or male human being?

Listen, Master Proudhon! Before you talk of woman, study her; go to school. Stop calling yourself an anarchist, or be an anarchist clear through. Talk to us, if you wish to, of the unknown and the known, of God who is evil, of property which is robbery; but when you talk of man do not make him an autocratic divinity, for I will answer you that man is evil. Attribute not to him a stock of intelligence which belongs to him only by right of conquest, by the commerce of love, by usury on the capital that comes entirely from woman and is the product of the soul within her. Dare not to attribute to him that which he has derived from another or I will answer you in your own words: “Property is robbery!”

Raise your voice, on the contrary, against the exploitation of woman by man. Proclaim to the world with that vigor of argument which has made him famous as an intellectual athlete, that man, without the aid of woman, is unable to drag the revolution out of the mire, to pluck it out of the filthy and bloodstained rut into which it has fallen; that alone he is powerless; that he must have the support of woman’s heart and brain; that in the path of progress they should march forward together, side by side, hand in hand; that man can not attain his goal and endure the fatigue of the journey without the sustaining sympathy and the encouraging caresses of woman.

Say to the man and to the woman that their destinies are to draw nearer together and to understand each other better; that they have one and the same name as they are one and the same being—the human being; that they are, each in turn, the one right and the other the left hand and that in the human identity their hearts are as one heart and their thoughts are inseparable.

Say to them that in this condition only can they he able to sustain and support each other in the journey and the light of their love shall pierce the shadows that separate the present from the future, or civilized society from harmonized society. Tell them the human being, in its relative proportion and manifestations, is like the glow-worm, which shines only by love and for love.

Say that. Be stronger than your prejudices; more generous than spiteful. Proclaim Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, the indivisibility of the human being. Do it; it is for the salvation of the public. Declare humanity in danger; call on man and woman to cast prejudiced invaders out of the frontier of social progress; create a second and a third of September against that other masculine nobility, that aristocracy of sex which would rivet us to customs of the past. Do it; it is necessary. Proclaim it with passion, with genius, trumpet-tongued, make it thunder . . and you will have well won the esteem of others and of yourself.

Joseph Dejacque
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Independent scholar, translator and archivist.