Page:Peter Alexeivitch Kropotkin - Expropriation.djvu/18

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Freedom Pamphets.

like fire laid to a train of gunpowder. The number of the out-of-works will be doubled as soon as the barricades a-re erected in Europe and the United States. What is to be done to provide these multitudes with bread?

We do not know whether the folk who call themselves "practical people" have ever asked themselves this question in all its nakedness. But we do know that they wish to maintain the wage system, and we must therefore expect to have "national workshops" and "public works" vaunted as a means of giving food to the unemployed.

Because national workshops were opened in 1789 and in 1793; because the same means were resorted to in 1848; because Napoleon III. succeeded in contenting the Parisian proletariat for eighteen years by giving them public works—which cost Paris to-day its debt of £80,000,000—-and its municipal tax of three or four pounds a head; because this excellent method of "taming the beast" was customary in Rome, and even in Egypt four thousand years ago; and lastly because despots, kings and emperors have always employed the ruse of throwing a scrap of food to the people, to gain time to snatch up the whip,—it is natural that "practical" men should extol this method of perpetuating the wage system. What need to rack our brains when we have the time-honoied method of the Pharaohs at our disposal!

Well, should the Revolution be so misguided as to start on this path, all would be lost.

In 1848, when the national workshops were opened on the 27th of February, the unemployed of Paris numbered only 8,000, a fortnight later they had already increased to 49,000. They would soon have been 100,000, without counting those who crowded in from the provinces.

Yet at that time trade and manufactures in France only employed half as many hands as to-day. And we know that in time of Revolution exchange and industry suffer most from the general upheaval.

To realise this, we have only to think for a moment of the number of workmen whose labor depends directly or indirectly upon export trade, or of the number of hands employed in producing luxuries whose consumers are the middle-class minority.

A Revolution in Europe means the immediate stoppage of at least half the factories and workshops. It means millions of workers and their families thrown on the streets.

And your "practical men" would seek to avert this truly terrible situation by means of national relief works, that is to say, by means of new industries created on the spot to give work to the unemployed!

It is evident, as Proudhon has already pointed out, that the smallest attack upon property will bring in its train the complete disorganisa-