Solidarity in Liberty: The Workers' Path to Freedom (1867)
From this truth of practical solidarity or fraternity of struggle
that I have laid down as the first Principe of the Council of
Action flows a theoretical consequence of equal importance. The
workers are able to unite as a class for class economic action,
because all religious philosophies, and systems of morality which
prevail in any given order of society are always the ideal expression
of its real, material situation. Theologies, philosophies and
ethics define, first of all, the economic organization of society;
and secondly, the political organization, which is itself nothing
but the legal and violent consecration of the economic order.
Consequently, there are not several religions of the ruling class;
there is one, the religion of property. And there are not several
religions of the working class: there is one, the piety of struggle,
the vision of emancipation, penetrating the fog of every mysticism,
and finding utterance in a thousand prayers. Workers of all creeds,
like workers of all' lands, have but one faith, hope, and charity;
one common purpose overleaps the barriers of seeming hatreds of
race and creed. The workers are one class, and therefore one race,
one faith, one nation. This is the Theoretical truth to be induced
from the practical fraternal solidarity of the Council of Action
organization. Church and State are liquidated in the vital organization
of the working class, the genius of free humanity.
It has been stated that Protestantism established liberty in
Europe. This is a great error. It is the economic, material emancipation
of the bourgeois class which, in spite of Protestantism, has created
that exclusively political and legal liberty, which is too easily
confounded with the grand, universal, human liberty, which only
the proletariat can create. The necessary accompaniment of bourgeois
legal and political liberty, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding,
is the intellectual, anti-Christian, and anti-religious emancipation
of the bourgeoisie. The capitalist ruling class has no religion,
no ideals, and no illusion. It is cynical and unbelieving because
it denies the real base e of human society, the complete emancipation
of the working class. Bourgeois society, by its very nature of
interested professionalism, must maintain centers of authority
and exploitation, called States. The laborers, by their very economic
needs, trust challenge such centers of oppression.
The inherent principles of human existence are summed up in
the single law of solidarity. This is the golden rule of humanity
and may be formulated this: no person can recognize or realize
his or her own humanity except by recognizing it in others and
so cooperating for its realization by each and all No man can
emancipate himself save by emancipating with him all the men about
My liberty is the liberty of everybody. I cannot be free in
idea until I am free in fact. To be free in idea and not free
fact is to be revolt. To be free in fact is to have my liberty
and my right, find their confirmation, and sanction in the liberty
and right of all mankind. I am free only when all men are my equals
(first and foremost economically.)
What all other men are is of the greatest importance to me.
However independent I may imagine myself to be, however far removed
I may appear from mundane considerations by my social status,
I am enslaved to the misery of the meanest member of society.
The outcast is my daily menace. Whether I am Pope, Czar, Emperor,
or even Prime Minister, I am always the creature of their circumstance,
the conscious product of their ignorance, want and clamoring.
They are in slavery, and I, the superior one, am enslaved in consequence.
For example if such is the case, I am enlightened or intelligent
man. But I an foolish with the folly of the people, my wisdom
stunned by their needs, my mind palsied. I an a brave man, but
I am the coward of the peoples' fear. Their misery appalls me,
and every day I shrink from the struggle of life. My career becomes
an evasion of living. A rich man, I tremble before their poverty,
because it threatens to engulf me. I discover I have no riches
in myself, no wealth but that stolen from the common life of the
common people. As privileged man, I turn pale before the people's
demand for justice. I feel a menace in that demand. The cry is
ominous and I am threatened. It is the feeling of the malefactor
dreading, yet waiting for inevitable arrest. My life is privileged
and furtive. But it is not mine. I lack freedom and contentment.
In short, wishing to be free, though I am wise, brave, rich, and
privileged, I cannot be free because my immediate associates do
not wish men to be free; and the mass, from whom all wisdom, bravery,
riches, and privileges ascend, do not know how to secure their
freedom. The slavery of the common people make them the instruments
of my oppression. For me to be free, they must be free. We must
conquer bread and Freudian in common.
The true, human liberty of a single individual implies the
emancipation of all: because, thanks to the law of solidarity,
which is the natural basis of all human society, I cannot be,
feel, and know myself really, completely free, if I an not surrounded
by men as free as myself. The slavery of each is my slavery.
It follows that the question of individual liberty is not a
personal but a social economic question that depends on the deliverance
of the proletariat for its realization. That in turn, involves
the spontaneous organization and capacity for economic and social
action through the voluntary and free grouping of all workers'
organizations into the Council of Action. The Red Association
of these who toil!
Next: The Red Association