Are we going to wait till this measure, which is in harmony with every honest man's sense of justice, is taken up by the few Socialists scattered among the middle-class elements, of which the provisionary government will be composed? We should have to wait long—till the return of reaction, in fact!
That is why, refusing uniforms and badges—those outward signs of authority and servitude—and remaining people among the people, the earnest revolutionists will work side by side with the masses that the abolition of rent, the expropriation of houses, may become an accomplished fact. They will prepare the soil and encourage ideas to grow in this direction, and when the fruit of their labors is ripe the people will proceed to expropriate the houses without giving heed to the theories which will certainly be thrust in their way—theories about paying compensation to landlords, and suchlike ineptities.
On the day that the expropriation of houses takes place, on that day, the exploited workers will have realised that the new times have come, that they will no longer have to bear the yoke of the rich and powerful, that Equality has been proclaimed on the house-tops in very truth, that this revolution is a real fact, and not a theatrical make-believe, like too many others which went before.
If the idea of expropriation be adopted by the people it will be carried into effect in spite of all the "unsurmountable" obstacles with which we are menaced.
Of course the good folk in new uniforms, seated in the official arm-chairs of the Hôtel de Ville, will be sure to busy themselves in heaping up obstacles. They will talk of giving compensation to the landlords, of preparing statistics, and drawing up long reports. Yes, they would be capable of drawing up reports long enough to outlast the hopes of the people, who, after waiting and starving in enforced idleness, and seeing nothing come of all these official researches, would lose heart and faith in the Revolution and abandon the field to the reactionaries. The new bureaucracy would end by making expropriation hateful in the eyes of all.
Here, indeed, is a rock which might shipwreck our hopes. But if the people turn a deaf ear to the specious arguments used to dazzle them and realise that new life needs new conditions, and if they undertake the task themselves, then expropriation can be effected without any great difficulty.
"But how? How can expropriation be achieved?" you ask us.