Page:Peter Alexeivitch Kropotkin - Expropriation.djvu/15

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If the coming Revolution is to be a Social Revolution it will be distinguished from all former uprisings not only by its aim, but also by its methods. To attain a new end new means are required.

The three great popular movements which we have seen in France, during the last hundred years, differ from each other in many ways, but they have one common feature.

In each case, the people strove to overturn the old régime, and spent their heart's-blood for the cause. Then, after having borne the brunt of the battle, they sank again into obscurity. A government, composed of men more or less honest, was formed and undertook to organise—the Republic in 1793, Labor in 1848, and the Free Commune in 1871.

This government was filled with Jacobin ideas, and concerned almost exclusively with political questions, such as the reorganisation of the machinery of government, the purifying of the administration, the separation of Church and State, civic liberty and such matters. It is true the workmen's clubs kept an eye on the members of the new government, and often imposed their ideas on them. But even in these clubs, whether the leaders belonged to the middle or to the working classes, it was always middle-class ideas which prevailed. They discussed various political questions at great length, but forgot to discuss the question of bread.

At such times great ideas sprang up, ideas that have moved the world; words were spoken which still stir our hearts, at the interval of a century. But the people were starving in the streets.

From the very commencement of the Revolution industry stopped of necessity, the circulation of produce was checked, and capital was withdrawn. The master—the employer—had nothing to fear at such times, he battened on his dividends, if indeed he did not speculate on the wretchedness around; but the wage-earner was reduced to live from hand to mouth. Wane knocked at the door.

Famine was abroad in the land—such famine as had hardly been seen under the old régime.

"The Girondists are starving us!" was the cry in the workmen's quarters in 1793, and thereupon the Girondists were guillotined, and full powers were given to "the Mountain" and to the Commune. The Commune indeed concerned itself with the question of bread, and made heroic efforts to feed Paris. At Lyons, Fouché and Collot d'Herbois established plenty of granaries, but the sums spent on filling them were woefully insufficient. The town-councils made great efforts to procure corn; the bakers who bearded flour were hanged—and still the people lacked bread.