Page:Peter Alexeivitch Kropotkin - Expropriation.djvu/29

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quantities of game. This huge city devours, besides, eighteen million pounds of butter, 172 million eggs, and other produce in like proportion.

It imports flour and grain from the United States and from Russia, Hungary, Italy, Egypt and the Indies; live stock from Germany, Italy, Spain—even Roumania and Russia; and, as for groceries, there is not a country in the world that it does not lay under contribution. Now, let us see how Paris or anyother great town could be revictualled by home-grown produce, supplies of which would be readily and willingly sent in from the provinces.

To those who put their trust in "authority" the question will appear quite simple. They would begin by establishing a strongly centralised government, furnished with all the machinery of coercion: the police, the army, the guillotine. This government would draw up a statement of all the produce contained in France. It would divide the country into districts of supply, and then command that a prescribed quantity of some particular food stuff be sent to such a place on such a day, and delivered at such a station, to be there received on a given day by a specified official and stored in particular warehouses.

Now, we declare with the fullest conviction, not merely that such a solution is undesirable, but that it never could by any possibility be put into practice. It is wildly Utopian!

Pen in hand, one may dream such a dream in the study, but in contact with reality it comes to nothing; for, like all such theories, it leaves out of account the spirit of independence that is in man. The attempt would lead to a universal uprising, three or four vendées in one, the villages warring against the towns, all France up in arms defying the city for its arrogance in attempting to impose such a system upon the country.

But enough of Jacobin Utopias! Let us see if some other form of organisation will fit the case.

In 1793 the provinces starved the large towns, and killed out the Revolution. And yet it is a known fact that the production of grain in France during 1792–93 had not diminished, indeed the evidence goes to show that it had increased. But after having taken possession of the manorial lands, after having reaped a harvest from them, the peasants would not part with their grain for paper-money. They withheld their produce, waiting for a rise in the price, or the introduction of gold. The most rigorous measures of the National Convention were without avail, and even the fear of death failed to break up the ring or force its members to sell their corn. For it is matter of history that the district commissaries did not scruple to guillotine those who withheld their grain from the market, and the populace of Paris strung