Ernest Lesigne, “Socialistic Letters,” No. 8 (1887)




These socialistic letters have earned me, as it should be, some unfriendly observations, with which I find nothing wrong, strong partisan that I am of the freedom of the press.

Before such a touching agreement to criticize both content and form, to declare that writing in French, I must know nothing of what I say, and that it is very bold of me to dare address social questions without first being awarded a diploma by the regular doctors, there is nothing to do but make a strong mea culpa for the great liberty and recognize that there are some very astounding geniuses in the world, these days.

But where I have failed to be moved, is when I have seen that the accord extended to completely refusing me the title of socialist.

Oh, illustrious colleague, you are very difficult!

Not communist, certainly; but not socialist, come on then!

Is he a socialist, who urges all the groups, associations, and syndicates, all the free assemblies of individual forces, as the sole means of providing prevention and remedy against the hazards of life, accidents, disasters, miseries, maladies, lay-offs, and disabilities that can affect one today, and strike another tomorrow?

Is he a socialist, who would like to see the poor portion given to the child by nature supplemented by a well-stuffed and wide-open fund, which would make itself creditor of every individual born, with the simple responsibility of reimbursing it in their adult years and, giving them full liberty, free initiative, complete choice of teachers and of profession, would furnish them all the pecuniary means proper to insuring their complete development?

Is he a socialist, who wants for all the complete expansion and free functioning of all their faculties of production and consumption, the maximum of liberty and the maximum of well-being, the complete satisfaction of activities and needs, the right to labor and the rights of labor; the harvest after the sowing, enjoyment after labor?

Is he a socialist, who produces the elimination of all the parasitism, the end of all monopolies?

Is he a socialist, who proclaims men, women and children equal in rights, who asks the communal power to safeguard the rights of children against men and women; to safeguard against men, the rights of women, who asks the national power to safeguard the right of the individual against the oppressive commune, and who asks popular suffrage to protect the individual and every association, communal or otherwise, against the oppression of the state?

Is he a socialist, who encourages the means of transforming sterile France into a true garden of abundance, capable of meeting the needs not of thirty-eight, but of a hundred millions inhabitants?

Is he a socialist, who advises the use of the current political tools, as detestable as it is, to destroy the whole odious arsenal of laws, decrees, orders, ordinances, veritable war measures dictated by the monopolists of goods against the accession of the workers to property, to the possibility of living in liberty?

Is he a socialist, who wants to see undertaken seen through in our generation that immense labor, wonderful source of prosperity, which shall distribute the fertilizing waters over fifty million hectares of cultivableland, to make sure that no drop descending from the hills and mountains could be lost in the sea; who declares it possible to go, by fast roads, from one end of France to the other for ten sous, to talk from one end of France to the other for a few centimes, to traverse by railroads all the corners of the country, even to the villages most deprived today, which tomorrow would become prosperous if we would apply the socialism of these Socialistic Letters?

Is he a socialist, who says: “The must no longer be servants among us; there must be no more poor among us; and, to accomplish that, all the workers must be possessors and sharers of their instruments of labor; that the cultivators have their lands, the industrial workers their tools, their workshops, their factories, their mines; that the postal workers have their offices, the professors their colleges, their schools, the telephone operators, the telegraphers, their telephones and telegraphs, all being able to receive orders, credits, commissions or profit sharing from individuals, communes or the state concerned?

Is he a socialist, who report, with profound joy, the coming of a next economic revolution, as beneficial as decisive, the advent of the little mechanization, which will make liberty where the large machine had made slavery; the reappearance of art, of individual skills in labor, the disappearance of the proletariat, and consequently the conquest, by the laborer, of dignity, liberty, and security?

You see very well that he is a socialist.

Ernest Lesigne

Le Radical, July 19, 1887, p. 2.

Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur

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