Page:Peter Alexeivitch Kropotkin - Expropriation.djvu/13

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schemer who came to exploit them, they would even consent to return to the old slavery, if only under promise of work.

Or, finally, suppose you oust the land-owners, and hand over the mills and factories to the worker, without interfering with the swarm of middlemen who drain off the produce of our manufacturers and speculate in corn and flour, meat and groceries in our great centres of commerce. Well, when exchange is arrested and products cease to circulate, when London is without bread, and Yorkshire finds no buyers for her cloth, a terrible counter-revolution will take place—a counter-revolution trampling upon heaps of slain, sweeping the towns and villages with shot and shell; there will be proscriptions, panic, flight, perhaps all the terrors of wholesale judicial massacre of the Guillotine, as in France in 1815, 1848, and 1871.

All is interdependent in a civilised society; it is impossible to reform any one thing without altering the whole. On that day when we strike at private property, under any one of its forms, territorial or industrial, we shall be obliged to attack all its manifestations. The very success of the Revolution will demand it.

Besides, we could not if we would confine ourselves to a partial expropriation. Once the principle of the "Divine Right of Property" is shaken, no amount of theorising will prevent its overthrow, here by the slaves of the soil, there by the slaves of the machine.

If a great town, Paris for example, were to confine itself to taking possession of the houses or the factories, it would still be forced to deny the right of the bankers to levy upon the Commune a tax amounting to £2,000,000, in the form of interest for former loans. The great city would be obliged to put itself in touch with the rural districts, and its influence would inevitably urge the peasants to free themselves from the landowner. It would be necessary to communalise the railways that the citizens might get food and work, and lastly, to prevent the waste of supplies, and to guard against the chicanery of corn-speculators, like those to whom the Commune of 1793 fell a prey; it would place in the hands of the citizens the work of stocking their warehouses with commodities, and apportioning the produce.

Nevertheless, some Socialists still seek to establish a distinction. "Of course," they say, "the soil, the mines, the mills and manufactures must be expropriated; these are the instruments of production, and it is right we should consider them public property. But articles of consumption, food, clothes and dwellings, should remain private property."

Popular common-sense has got the better of this subtle distinction. We are not savages who can live in the woods, without