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Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/76

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Studies in Socialism

mitted slavery and as in the Middle Ages it was compatible with serfdom, so to-day it allows the wages system. I am far from wishing to divert myself with the melancholy reactionary paradox of those Socialists who say that the slave and the serf were happier than the wage earner. The moral and material position of the modern workman is as a whole superior to that of the slave or the serf. We are not talking about that. I simply maintain that to-day private property is embodied in the capitalist form which permits a minority of privileged individuals to dispose of the work, the strength, and the health of the working classes, and to levy on them a perpetual tribute. And I maintain that when the Radicals declare in a summary fashion that they wish to uphold private property, either the declaration has no meaning at all, or it means that they want to uphold capitalistic property.

Whoever, in Greece or Rome, had simply announced that he wished to maintain private property, would have announced himself an upholder of slavery. Whoever, during the Middle Ages, had simply announced that he wished to maintain private or personal property, would have upheld at the same time serfdom and feudalism. And to-day, when the Radicals, in a generalised formula, announce to the world that they wish to maintain private property against our attacks upon it, they constitute themselves from that moment the guardians of capitalist property.