the workers all those things the lack of which makes them fall an easy prey to the exploiter, and we will do our utmost that none shall lack aught, that not a single man shall be forced to sell the strength of his right arm to obtain a bare subsistence for himself and his babes. That is what we mean when we talk of Expropriation; that will be our duty during the Revolution, for whose coming we look, not two hundred years hence, bat soon, very soon.
The ideas of Anarchism in general and of Expropriation in particular find much more sympathy than we are apt to imagine among men of independent character, and those for whom idleness is not the supreme ideal. "Still," our friends often warn us, "take care you do not go too far! Humanity cannot be changed in a day, so do not be in too great a hurry with your schemes of Expropriation and Anarchy, or you will be in danger of achieving no permanent result."
Now, what we fear with regard to Expropriation is exactly the contrary. We are afraid of not going far enough, of carrying out Expropriation on too small a scale to be lasting. We would not have the revolutionary impulse arrested in mid-career, to exhaust itself in half-measures, which would content no one, and which, while producing a tremendous upheaval of society, and stopping its customary activities, would have no power of life in themselves, and would merely spread general discontent and inevitably prepare the way for the triumph of reaction.
There are, in fact, in a modern state established relations which it is practically impossible to modify if one attacks them only in detail. There are wheels within wheels in our economic organisation—the machinery is so complex and interdependent that no one part can be modified without disturbing the whole. This will become clear as soon as an attempt is made to expropriate anything.
Let us suppose that in a certain country a limited form of Expropriation is effected; for example, that, as recently suggested by Henry George, only the property of the great landlords is confiscated, whilst the factories are left untouched; or that, in a certain city, house property is taken over by the commune, but merchandise is left in private ownership; or that, in some manufacturing centre, the factories are communalised, but the land is not interfered with.
The same result would follow in each case—a terrible shattering of the industrial system, without the means of reorganising it on new lines.