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Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/79

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Radicals and Private Property

out restriction. The rights of user, exercised collectively by the inhabitants of any given estate, might be regarded in some respects as property. That is to say that property, in the Middle Ages, had a much more complex character, much less abstract and clearly defined than in our day. Far from being immovable, the conception of property has been modified in the course of the centuries, and there is no doubt that it will be further modified in the future, that it will follow economic and social phenomena in their evolution."

There is the broad and far-reaching conclusion to which the French historians are more and more tending. What force can the scholastic and childish formula of the Radicals have when confronted with the sovereign findings of history and this living evolution of the conception of property? Just as it has been modified in the past the conception of property will be modified again; and it is certain that it is now going to evolve in the direction of greater complication, of richer complexity. A new force has to be reckoned with, a force which is going to complicate and transform all social relations, the whole property system. This new force is the human individual.

For the first time since the beginning of history, man claims his rights as a man, all his rights. The workman, the proletarian, the man who owns nothing, is affirming his own individuality. He claims everything that belongs properly to a man, the right to life, the right to work, the right to