The large towns must undertake to till the soil, like the country districts. We must return to what biology calls "the integration of functions": after the division of labor the integration—that is the plan followed all through Nature.
Besides, philosophy apart, the force of circumstances would bring about this result. Let Paris see at the end of eight months that it is running short of corn, and Paris will set to work to grow corn.
Is land the difficulty? That will not be wanting, for it is round the great towns, and round Paris especially, that the parks and pleasure grounds of the landed gentry are to be found. These thousands of acres only await the skilled labor of the husbandman to surround Paris with fields infinitely more fertile and productive then the steppes of southern Russia, where the soil is dried up by the sun. Nor will labor be lacking. To what do you suppose will the two million citizens of Paris turn their attention, when they are longer catering for the luxurious fads and amusements of Russian princes, Roumanian grandees, and wives of Berlin financiers?
With all the mechanical inventions of the century, with all the intelligence and technical skill of the workers accustomed to deal with complicated machinery, with inventors, chemists, botanists, the professors of the Jardin des plante and the market gardeners of Gennevilliers, besides the plant necessary for multiplying and improving machinery, and, finally, with the organising spirit of the Parisian people, their pluck and energy—with all these at its command, the agriculture of the Anarchist Commune of Paris would be a very different thing from the rude husbandry of the Ardennes.
Steam, electricity, the heat of the sun, and the breath of the wind, will ere long be pressed into service. The steam harrow and the steam plough will quickly do the rough work of preparation, and the soil thus cleaned and enriched will only need the intelligent care of man, and of woman even more than man, to be clothed with luxuriant vegetation, not once but three or four times in the year.
Thus, learning the art of horticulture from experts, and trying experiments in different methods on small patches of soil reserved for the purpose, vying with each other to obtain the best returns, finding in physical exercise, without exhaustion or overwork, the health and strength which so often flags in cities, men, women and children will gladly turn to the labor of the fields, when it is no longer a slavish drudgery, but has become a pleasure, a festival, a renewal of health and joy.
"There are no barren lands; the earth is worth what man is worth"—that is the last word of modern agriculture. Ask of the earth and she will give you bread, provided that you ask aright.