The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas, et Prevalebit. MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 1882. Communism Revolutionary Again.
The news telegraphed from France this week that a revolutionary outbreak of Communists at Lyons has been expected, and that in consequence a considerable force has been despatched there, and thirty arrests have been made, seems at first a little singular. 'That Communism and Socialism—there is no more difference between the two than there is between scarlet fever and scarletina—as being ultra democratic, should be hostile to every strong central Government, is only natural. We can understand easily bow, in the time of Napoleon Buonaparte, the pauper nobleman, the Due de St. Simon, should be avowedly a Communist and a revolutionary when he dared. It is quite intelligible that under the Government officials and shopkeepers of Louis Philippe Founer should attempt to upset the established order of things in favor of his preposterous human “phalanxes” of Communists, who were to regenerate the world. We are not surprised, at a later date, even at Louis Blanc’s two thousand State-paid tailors sitting in the palace of the Luxembourg plying their trade at two francs a day, and not being worth, on the
iverage, even that jp&\ vages. We can see more than a gliranering of meaning in Proud Hen’s statenent, at the same lime that “ property s theft.” But it is somewhat of a muzzle now, when a settled republic is established in France, with manhood suffrage, vote by ballot, and small electoral districts, that people really believing in any particular political principles should endeavor to upset the Government by a violent resolution, when the people at large could realise all they wanted so obviously by peace-' able means ; by ventilating their grievances, if any, for instance, in Parliament and in the Press. But the explanation of this apparently irrational turbulence lies in the fact that what the people at large want is by no means the same thing as what Communists want. These desire, not to take part as so many units in the counsels of the nation, but to teach the nation and to guide it in the way in which they think it should go. A republic with all manner of rights for all men alike would be no political paradise whatever for the Communist. For in such a case it would probably be admitted, as indeed it is under the French Republic at present, that a man is entitled to all the money which he per-
sonally earns by his own industry and skill, and' to all the influence he acquires by his own intelligence, energy, and character. Liberty and fraternity, in fact, are useless in the Socialistic creed unless there is absolute equality as well; not merely equal rights, but also equal powers and pos-; sessions, and this is the principal at the bottom of all trades unionism and all protectionism to native industry, namely, to put the lazy and incompetent workman exactly on the same footing as regards the results of the two kinds of work with the industrious and the incompetent. Republican as France is, she has not yet come to that kind of equality, and it will be a bad day for her prosperity if she ever does. At bottom, no doubt, every man wishes
to obtain money and property without having the trouble to work for them. The laws of nature and the laws of society, however, prohibit any such acquisition on those terms, and so most people possessed of any sense drop down to the actual position of affairs, and expect only to get wealthy by working, not by talking about the rights of man, etc., no matter in how plausible a manner. But there is a section of the community particularly numerous and noisy in France, which fails to recognise this necessity of work, and regards it as something vulgar and utterly unnecessary, for a man of genius, for such the burning patriot always fancies himself to, be, Some few years ago at Paris, a young grocer’s assistant there who considered his political genius unrecognised by his countrymen at large, put a revolver to his head, and blew out his brains—if he had any. In his pocket after death was found a paper requesting that the following words should be inscribed on his tombstone :—“ Born to be a statesman, died because he was only a grocer!” A sarcastic critic justly remarked that if he had ever had sense enough to be a statesman, he would not have been ashamed to work as a grocer, until he got something to pay him better. No comment on the poor young idiot’s folly could have been wiser. Nevertheless, in France the brainless young suicide had many sympathisers. Of course when such sentiment is current, a republic is always in danger. No form of government, so far as can be seen, is in the abstract equally desirable with the republican. Even in its actual working, no kind of government yet tried seems to conduce more to the national wealth, happiness, and high position compared with other States, as may be observed by the working of the United States Government at the present hour. But such a government absolutely necessitates people of a certain kind to work it, not loafers, or semi-loafers, but workers. It is quite true that after all “ the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,” but it would be very desirable that they should be. Certainly if a man has a fair field and no favor in the competition his work meets with in the world, he has got all that he ought to expect, or that any well ordered government ought to attempt to give him.