Page:Peter Alexeivitch Kropotkin - Expropriation.djvu/23

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The people of the great towns will be driven by force of circumstances to take possession of all the provisions, beginning with the barest necessaries, and gradually extending Communism to other things, in order to satisfy the needs of all the citizens.

The sooner it is done the better; the sooner it is done the less misery; there will be and the less strife.

But upon what basis must society be organised in order that all may share and share alike? That is the question that meets us at the outset.

We answer that there are no two ways. There is only one way in which Communism can be established equitably, only one way which satisfies our instincts of justice, and is at the same time practical, namely, the system already adopted by the agrarian Communes of Europe.

Take, for example, a peasant commune, no matter where, even in France, where the Jacobins have done their best to destroy all communal usage. If the commune possesses woods and copses, for instance, as long as brush-wood is plentiful, every one can take as much as they want, without other let or hindrance than the public opinion of their neighbors. As to the timber-trees, which are always scarce, they have to be carefully apportioned.

The same with the communal pasture-land; while there is enough and to spare, no limit is put to what the cattle of each homestead may consume, nor to the number of beasts grazing upon the pastures. Grazing grounds are not divided nor fodder doled out, unless there is scarcity. All the Swiss communes, and many of those in France and Germany also, wherever there is communal pasture-land, practice this system.

And in the countries of Eastern Europe, where there are great forests and no scarcity of land, you find the peasants felling the trees as they need them, and cultivating as much of the soil as they require, without any thought of limiting each man's share of timber or of land. But the timber will be divided, and the land parcelled out, to each household according to its needs, as soon as either becomes scarce, as is already the case in Russia.

In a word, then, the system is this: no stint or limit to what the community possesses in abundance, but equal sharing and dividing of those commodities which are scarce or apt to run short. Of the 350 millions who inhabit Europe, 200 millions still follow this system of natural communism.

It is a fact worth remarking that the same system prevails in the