>>>  Laatst gewijzigd: 24 juli 2018  

Woorden en Beelden

Filosofie en de waan van de dag

Start Glossen Weblog Boeken Onderzoek

Utopie en bevrijding

Voorkant Buber 'Paths in Utopia' Martin BUBER
Paden in Utopia - Het utopisch socialisme en de vernieuwing van de maatschappij (vertaling door F. de Miranda van Pfade in Utopia)
Utrecht: Bijleveld, 1972, 180 blzn.; ISBN: 90 6131 609x

Paths in Utopia (vertaling Hull)
Boston: Beacon Press, 1958;

[In dit boek verzet Buber zich tegen de simpele afwijzing van het utopische socialisme door Marx en Engels en het latere communisme. Hij neemt het utopisch socialisme bijzonder serieus, omdat vertegenwoordigers ervan als Saint-Simon, Fourier, Owen, Proudhon en andere anarchisten wel degelijk een belangrijk inzicht hebben uitgewerkt waar marxisten en communisten nog wat van hadden kunnen leren. Buber bekritiseert namelijk de centralistische en politieke benadering van Marx, een benadering die ook het communisme van na de Russische Revolutie karakteriseert en die maakt dat de socialistische revolutie tot mislukken gedoemd is. Hij bekritiseert overigens evengoed het kapitalisme. De aanpak die hij wil en die hij ook terugziet bij de utopisch socialisten is een aanpak die - in lijn met het denken van Tönnies - de persoonlijke relaties in een informele gemeenschap van mensen benadrukt en uitgaat van een vrijwillige samenwerking tussen verschillende gemeenschappen waardoor een organisatie van onderop ontstaat en decentralisatie en vrijheid kunnen blijven bestaan. Een voorbeeld daarvan is voor hem de Kibboetz.]

[Het oorspronkelijke boek is - ik neem aan in het Duits - voltooid in 1945 en in het Hebreeuws uitgegeven in 1946, waarna allerlei andere vertalingen volgden. Ik las de Engelse vertaling, een digitale omzetting van het boek in een 'format' zonder paginanummers. ]

[De Engelse Wikipedia zegt over Buber: "Martin Buber was born in Vienna and studied at the Universities of Vienna, Leipzig, Berlin and Munich. He was professor of religion and ethics at the University of Frankfurt from 1924 to 1933. From 1938 until his retirement in 1951 he was professor of social philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. One of the most outstanding religious philosophers of our time, Dr. Buber has been active in the Zionist movement and the revival of Hasidic thought. His works include a German translation of the Bible, For the Sake of Heaven, Good and Evil, I and Thou, Israel and the World, Between Man and Man, which has already been published as a Beacon Paperback, and numerous other books and articles in the fields of Biblical scholarship, religious existentialism, and comparative religion."]

(1958) Introduction (by Ephraim Fischoff)

"He is a distinctive social philosopher, and a significant exponent of religious socialism in the great tradition of Utopian social thought."

"Influenced by the pioneer work of modern German sociology, Ferdinand Tönnies' Community and Civil Society (Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, 1887), Buber became one of the professorial socialists of the German tradition; and from other thought currents of the fin de siècle in his own country and in general European thought, Buber imbibed a deep concern with the restoration of true community. But Buber's professorial socialism differed from that of the other Kathedersozialisten, even from that of the aforementioned Tönnies, in that he was consistently a doughty protagonist of social meliorism only if it retained a strongly religious basis; i.e., only if it quested for a regenerated man in a restructured society."

[Buber wil dus een religieuze basis voor de verbetering van de samenleving, wat hier blijkbaar betekent: dat ook de "mens moest veranderen met het veranderen van de samenleving", als ik het zo mag vertalen? Het gaat dan dus ook om een morele verbetering. Daar heb je alleen geen religie voor nodig. Integendeel, denk ik.]

"Buber saw ever more clearly the need of educational effort. If the profound values of community were to be transmitted, they would first have to be reawakened in the new generation."

"Buber was an earnest student of basic works in modern social thought by such thinkers as Wilhelm Dilthey, Georg Simmel and Max Weber. He projected and edited an interesting series of forty popular monographs on sociological and psychological topics, under the general title Society (Die Gesellschaft), opening with a work on the proletariat by Werner Sombart and including a piece on religion by Georg Simmel and one on revolution by Gustav Landauer. The latter, a notable German socialist and man of letters, who occupied an important position in the first socialist government of German, exerted a profound influence on Buber's religious socialism and after the assassination of his beloved friend, Buber wrote a memorial essay about him and issued some of his unpublished works."

"As Marxian socialism scored its massive victories, Utopian socialism or utopianism appeared thoroughly discredited and doomed to the museum of intellectual aberrations. The signal victory of the proletariat in the titanic revolutionary struggle in Russia, culminating in the domination of the Bolsheviks, would, it was felt, demonstrate finally the utter validity of Marxian socialism. But the numerous failures of the Soviet Union to achieve true socialism in the decades that have passed and the diverse poignant frustrations and disillusionments with the "God that failed" have re-awakened an interest in Utopian socialism, and have led not a few to feel, as Buber expresses it, that Utopian and not Marxist socialism "may well be clearing the way for the structure of the coming society."
Recent years have seen a spate of books concerned with a reconsideration of Utopian thought, from Lewis Mumford's The Story of Utopias (1922) and J. O. Hertzler's History of Utopian Thought (1926) to Karl Mannheim's Ideology and Utopia (trans., 1936), Harry Ross' Utopias Old and New (1938), Marie Louise Berneri's Journey Through Utopia (1950), Raymond Ruyer's L'Utopie et les Utopies (1950), Glenn Negley and J. Max Patrick's The Quest for Utopia (1952), and Henrik F. Infield's Utopia and Experiment -- Essays in the Sociology of Cooperation (1958).
Yet another expression of the same interest David Riesman's essay on community planning and industrial society (Some Observations on Community Plans and Utopia, Yale Law Journal, December 1947, pp. I73ff.), which starts with a declaration that "a revival of the tradition of Utopian thinking seems to me one of the important intellectual tasks of today." Riesman's analysis is based on a study of community in modern technological society from the perspective of a progressive architect willing to envisage 'Utopian' changes in the quest for a genuine community life which would overcome the fateful separation of production from consumption that is construed as the primary cause of alienation in the life of modern man. (Percival and Paul Goodman, Communitas: Means of Livelihood and Ways of Life, 1947). In addition there have been numerous studies of various contemporary experiments in cooperative or communitarian living such as the studies of the Kibbutz in Israel by Henrik Infield."

"This volume purports to provide a re-examination of the Utopian ideal -- and the permanent value of this aspiration in the life of mankind. In its endeavor to rescue a word from oblivion and to restore it to proper esteem in the mind of mankind, the work provides an essay in semantics. Buber has the conviction that socialism has become lost in a blind alley from which it can be rescued partly by a re-evaluation of the true significance of the maligned term 'utopian'. But what sets this work apart from other histories of the Utopian thought or quest is Buber's total religious philosophy. Here is a social theorist living in the post-Stalin and post-Hitler era who, despite his experiences of the horrors of World War II, retains his faith in man's need and capacity for regeneration and his inalienable quest for a synthesis of religion and socialism. Buber provides a survey of the development of Utopian thought, covering such figures as Fourier, Saint-Simon, Owen and Proudhon. From these Buber proceeds to an evaluation of the achievement of Marx, stressing the continuing Utopian element in the latter's thought, despite his derisive rejection of utopianism."

"From this doctrine of Gemeinschaft both Landauer and Buber developed their philosophy of the community -- as the highest form of human symbiosis. This philosophy of community was influenced by but was also in part a protest against Marxism."

[Buber streeft naar een religieus socialisme en had daar voorlopers in:]

"There was a small group of intellectuals who gathered around men like Paul Tillich, Karl Mennicke and Eduard Heimann, whose main concern was to deepen the religious level of socialism for the purpose of enabling it, once it had achieved this deeper level of understanding, to produce or generate the desiderated 'theonomous era', as Tillich termed it."

"The situation was quite different in the various societies of 'religious socialists' that arose in Germany after 1919. Most of these groups were led by ministers and had the double purpose of combatting the dominant atheism in the Social Democratic Party in favor of a more sympathetic attitude toward Christianity and of creating in the church a positive understanding of socialism."

[Over ideologie in de betekenis van Mannheim gesproken: het redden door de kerken van de religie door socialisten te paaien.]

"If one inquires as to the influence of this movement of religious socialism, one is bound to say that it was not very effective. The Social Democratic Party tolerated it but scarcely advanced it, and the working class was very little touched by it. On the other hand the religious socialist group was suspect to the churches and the organizations connected with them, and it failed in its desired aim of inducing a more friendly judgment of socialism among church people."

I - The idea

De kritiek van Marx en Engels en anderen op de utopisch socialisten Saint-Simon, Fourier, Owen, Cabet, Weitling, Babeuf. Op een andere manier op Proudhon. Hun opvattingen waren ontstaan vóór de industrialisatie en dus konden ze onmogelijk oog hebben voor de opkomst van het proletariaat en de 'objectieve klassentegenstellingen' in de samenleving. Dat maakte niet hun analyses, maar wel hun aanbevelingen waardeloos. Die kritiek kwam voort uit Marx' opvatting dat een wetenschappelijke analyse van de (geschiedenis van de) industriële samenleving als vanzelf zou duidelijk maken wat er moest gebeuren. Maar hij kwam ook voort uit puur politieke overwegingen (het bestrijden van de interne tegenstellingen binnen de Kommunistenbond). En daarmee werd 'utopisch' als het ware een scheldwoord, iets negatiefs, een etiket om mensen weg te zetten.

"The epithet 'Utopian' thereafter became the most potent missile in the fight of Marxism against non-Marxian socialism. It was no longer a question of demonstrating the Tightness of one's own opinion in the face of a contrary one; in general one found science and truth absolutely and exclusively in his own position and utopianism and delusion in the rival camp. To be a 'Utopian' in our age means: to be out of step with modern economic development, and what modern economic development is we learn of course from Marxism. "

[Ja, dat is een akelig idee: menen dat je zelf de objectieve waarheid kent die anderen niet kennen. Niet bepaald zelfkritisch. En ook niet bepaald kritisch over wat wetenschappelijke kennisverwerving ons te bieden heeft. Er wordt in die krtiek op de socialistische voorgangers enorm op de man gespeeld ook, een heel vervelende eigenschap van zo veel intellectuelen met baanbrekende opvattingen en zeker ook van Marx.]

"But if socialism is to emerge from the blind-alley into which it has strayed, among other things the catchword 'Utopian' must be cracked open and examined for its true content."

II - The utopian element in socialism

Utopieën schetsen beelden van zaken die nog niet bestaan op basis van wensen.

"The Utopian picture is a picture of what 'should be', and the visionary is one who wishes it to be. "

[Er is geen mooiere manier om te zeggen dat utopisch denken normatief is.]

"What is at work here is the longing for that Tightness which, in religious or philosophical vision, is experienced as revelation or idea, and which of its very nature cannot be realized in the individual, but only in human community. The vision of 'what should be' -- independent though it may sometimes appear of personal will -- is yet inseparable from a critical and fundamental relationship to the existing condition of humanity. All suffering under a social order that is senseless prepares the soul for vision, and what the soul receives in this vision strengthens and deepens its insight into the perversity of what is perverted. The longing for the realization of 'the seen' fashions the picture."

"The vision of Tightness in Revelation is realized in the picture of a perfect time -- as messianic eschatology; the vision of rightness in the Ideal is realized in the picture of a perfect space -- as Utopia. The first necessarily goes beyond the social and borders on the creational, the cosmic; the second necessarily remains bounded by the circumference of society, even if the picture it presents sometimes implies an inner transformation of man. Eschatology means perfection of creation; Utopia the unfolding of the possibilities, latent in mankind's communal life, of a 'right' order. Another difference is still more important. For eschatology the decisive act happens from above, even when the elemental or prophetic form of it gives man a significant and active share in the coming redemption; for Utopia everything is subordinated to conscious human will, indeed we can characterize it outright as a picture of society designed as though there were no other factors at work than conscious human will. "

[Hij kan niet beter aanduiden waar ik sta: ik vind die eschatologie niet nodig, ik vind de utopie voldoende; ik geloof niet in krachten die van boven ons werken of in een 'act from above', ik geloof alleen in krachten van onszelf, in het handelen van mensen zelf.]

"Eschatology, in so far as it is prophetic, Utopia, in so far as it is philosophical, both have the character of realism.
The Age of Enlightenment and its aftermath robbed religious eschatology in increasing measure of its sphere of action: in the course of ten generations it has become more and more difficult for man to believe that at some point in the future an act from above will redeem the human world, i.e. transform it from a senseless one into one full of meaning, from disharmony into harmony. ...
On the other hand, the age of technology with its growing social contradictions has influenced Utopia profoundly. Under the influence of pantechnical trends Utopia too has become wholly technical; conscious human will, its foundation hitherto, is now understood as technics, and society like Nature is to be mastered by technological calculation and construction.
Society, however, with its present contradictions poses a question that cannot be dismissed; all thinking and planning for the future must seek the answer to it, and where Utopia is concerned the political and cultural formulations necessarily give way before the task of contriving a 'right' order of society. But here social thinking shows its superiority over technical thinking. Utopias which revel in technical fantasias mostly find foothold nowadays only in the feebler species of novel, in which little or none of the imagination that went into the grand Utopias of old can be discovered. Those, on the contrary, which undertake to deliver a blueprint of the perfect social structure, turn into systems. But into these 'utopian' social systems there enters all the force of dispossessed Messianism. The social system of modern socialism or communism has, like eschatology, the character of an annunciation or of a proclamation."

[Een overdreven technische invulling van een utopie is zinloos omdat het normatieve dan niet de aandacht krijgt die nodig is. Dat is waar. Maar die laatste zin van Buber is weer eens typisch voor mensen met een religieuze achtergrond: er is echt geen eschatologie nodig, geen messianisme nodig, om een normatief rechtvaardige samenleving te maken. Wat nodig is is normatief denken en dat kan heel goed zonder religie.]

[Ik merk bij Buber trouwens een liefde voor Proudhon ...]

"And fifty years after that letter Kropotkin summed up the basic view of the ends in a single sentence: the fullest development of individuality "will combine with the highest development of voluntary association in all its aspects, in all possible degrees and for all possible purposes; an association that is always changing, that bears in itself the elements of its own duration, that takes on the forms which best correspond at any given moment to the manifold strivings of all". This is precisely what Proudhon had wanted in the maturity of his thought. It may be contended that the Marxist objective is not essentially different in constitution; but at this point a yawning chasm opens out before us which can only be bridged by that special form of Marxist utopics, a chasm between, on the one side, the transformation to be consummated sometime in the future -- no one knows how long after the final victory of the Revolution -- and, on the other, the road to the Revolution and beyond it, which road is characterized by a far-reaching centralization that permits no individual features and no individual initiative. Uniformity as a means is to change miraculously into multiplicity as an end; compulsion into freedom."

[Dat dat laatste - vrijheid - het gevolg zou zijn, is nogal onwaarschijnlijk. En dan blijven alleen maar de uniformiteit en de onderdrukking van het individu over. Een akelig idee.]

"As against this the 'utopian' or non-marxist socialist desires a means commensurate with his ends; he refuses to believe that in our reliance on the future 'leap' we have to do now the direct opposite of what we are striving for; he believes rather that we must create here and now the space now possible for the thing for which we are striving, so that it may come to fulfilment then; he does not believe in the post-revolutionary leap, but he does believe in revolutionary continuity. To put it more precisely: he believes in a continuity within which revolution is only the accomplishment, the setting free and extension of a reality that has already grown to its true possibilities."

"Under capitalist economy and the State peculiar to it the constitution of society was being continually hollowed out, so that the modern individualizing process finished up as a process of atomization. "

"In the face of all this, which makes 'society' a contradiction in terms, the 'utopian' socialists have aspired more and more to a restructuring of society; not, as the Marxist critic thinks, in any romantic attempt to revive the stages of development that are over and done with, but rather in alliance with the decentralist counter-tendencies which can be perceived underlying all economic and social evolution, and in alliance with something that is slowly evolving in the human soul: the most intimate of all resistances -- resistance to mass or collective loneliness."

III - The forerunners

"In the history of Utopian socialism three pairs of active thinkers emerge, each pair being bound together in a peculiar way and also to its generation: Saint-Simon and Fourier, Owen and Proudhon, Kropotkin and Gustav Landauer. Through the middle pair there runs the line of cleavage separating the first phase of this socialism -- the phase of transition to advanced capitalism -- from the second, which accompanies the rise of the latter. In the first each thinker contributes a single constructive thought and these thoughts -- at first strange and incompatible with one another -- align themselves together, and in the second Proudhon and his successors build up the comprehensive synthesis, the synthetic idea of restructure. Each step occupies its own proper place and is not interchangeable."

"The line of development leading from Saint-Simon to Fourier and Owen rests on no sequence in time; the three men whom Engels names as the founders of socialism worked in approximately the same period; one could almost say that it is a development in contemporaneity. Saint-Simon lays down that society should progress from the dual to the unitary, the leadership of the whole should proceed from the social functions themselves, without the political order superimposing itself as an essentially distinct and special class. To this Fourier and Owen reply that this is only possible and permissible in a society based on joint production and consumption, i.e. a society composed of units in which the two are conjoined, hence of smaller communities aiming at a large measure of self-sufficiency. Fourier's answer affirms that each of these units is to be constituted like the present society in respect of property and the claims of the individual, only that the resultant society will be led from contradiction to harmony by the concord of instinct and activity. Owen's answer, on the other hand, affirms that the transformation of society must be accomplished in its total structure as well as in each of its cells: only a just ordering of the individual units can establish a just order in the totality. This is the foundation of socialism."

IV - Proudhon

Proudhon was een heel andere denker dan Marx in al zijn kritieken aan het verkondigen was.

"The real Proudhon is very far removed from the man Marx attacks in his polemic and earlier in a letter to a Russian friend, from the man for whom, as the letter says, "categories and abstractions are the primary facts", "the motive forces which make history" and which it is sufficient to alter for alterations to follow in real life. This 'hegelizing' of Proudhon misfires. No man has questioned more honestly and more pungently than Proudhon the social reality of his time and sought its secret. "

"Proudhon teaches that no historical principle can be adequately summed up in any system of ideas; every such principle needs interpretation and may be interpreted well or ill, and the interpretations influence, directly or indirectly, the historical fate of the principle. It must, however, be noted as an additional complication that in no age is any one principle all-powerful."

"It is obvious that Proudhon's basic thought is not individualistic. What he opposes to the State is not the individual as such but the individual in organic connection with his group, the group being a voluntary association of individuals. "

"Although the structural point of view as such is never expressly stated in Proudhon we notice that he comes nearer and nearer to it: his anti-centralism turns more and more to 'communalism' and federalism (which indeed, as he says in a letter of 1863, had been boiling in his veins for thirty years), that is, it becomes increasingly structural."

"Communist centralism thus appeared to Proudhon as a variant of absolutism elaborated to a monstrous and ruthless degree of perfection. This "dictatorial, authoritarian, doctrinaire system starts from the axiom that the individual is subordinate, in the very nature of things, to the collectivity; from it alone does right and life come to him; the citizen belongs to the State as the child to his family, he is in its power and possession, and he owes it submission and obedience in all things". Just as we can understand from this standpoint that Marx (in a passage intended for the polemic but not actually incorporated in it) said of Proudhon that he was "incapable of comprehending the revolutionary movement", so it is from this standpoint also that we can understand why Proudhon, in an entry in his diary, described Marx as "the tapeworm of socialism".
In the communist system common ownership is to bring about the end of all property, personal as well as parochial and communal; universal association is to absorb all special associations, and collective freedom is to devour all corporative, regional and private freedoms. Proudhon defines the political system of centralist communism, in 1864, in words which are worth pondering: "A compact democracy having the appearance of being founded on the dictatorship of the masses, but in which the masses have no more power than is necessary to ensure a general serfdom in accordance with the following precepts and principles borrowed from the old absolutism: indivisibility of public power, all-consuming centralization, systematic destruction of all individual, corporative and regional thought (regarded as disruptive), inquisitorial police." Proudhon thinks that we are not far removed from pure centralist communism in politics and economics, but he is persuaded that "after a final crisis and at the summons of new principles a movement will begin in the reverse direction"."

"Proudhon naturally distinguishes two modes of structure, which interpenetrate: the economic structure as a federation of workgroups, which he calls 'agrarian-industrial federation', and the political structure, which rests on the decentralization of power, the division of authority, the guarantee of the maximum degree of autonomy to the communes and regional associations, and the widest possible replacement of bureaucracy by a looser and more direct control of affairs arising from the natural group. "

V - Kropotkin

"Born at a time -- a hundred years ago -- when Proudhon was just beginning his struggle against the inequity of private property, against property as 'theft', he consciously takes up Proudhon's legacy so as to amplify and elaborate it. At the same time he simplifies it, though often in a fruitful and stimulating way. He simplifies Proudhon by mitigating the dazzle of contradictory principles, and that is something of a loss; but he also translates him into the language of history, and that is a gain. Kropotkin is no historian; even where he thought historically he is a social geographer, a chronicler of the states and conditions on earth; but he thinks in terms of history."

"We see particularly clearly here that Kropotkin is ultimately attacking not State-order as such but only the existing order in all its forms; that his 'anarchy', like Proudhon's, is in reality 'anocracy' (akratia); not absence of government but absence of domination."

"But he divined the tragedy of revolutions and came to feel it more and more deeply in the course of disappointing experiences. Their tragedy is that as regards their positive goal they will always result in the exact opposite of what the most honest and passionate revolutionaries strive for, unless and until this has so far taken shape before the revolution that the revolutionary act has only to wrest the space for it in which it can develop unimpeded.
Two years before his death Proudhon remarks bitterly: "It is the revolutionary struggle that has given us centralization." This view was not unfamiliar to Kropotkin. But he believed that it was sufficient to influence the revolutionary force by education so as to prevent the revolution from ending in a new centralization "every bit as bad or worse", and thus enabling "the people -- the peasants and the urban workers -- to begin the really constructive work themselves". "The point for us is to inaugurate the social revolution through communism."
Like Bakunin, Kropotkin misses the all-important fact that, in the social as opposed to the political sphere, revolution is not so much a creative as a delivering force whose function is to set free and authenticate -- i.e. that it can only perfect, set free, and lend the stamp of authority to something that has already been foreshadowed in the womb of the pre-revolutionary society; that, as regards social evolution, the hour of revolution is not an hour of begetting but an hour of birth -- provided there was a begetting beforehand."

VI - Landauer

"Landauer's step beyond Kropotkin consists primarily in his direct insight into the nature of the State. The State is not, as Kropotkin thinks, an institution which can be destroyed by a revolution."

""One day it will be realized that socialism is not the invention of anything new but the discovery of something actually present, of something that has grown." This being so, the realization of socialism is always possible if a sufficient number of people want it. The realization depends not on the technological state of things, although socialism when realized will of course look differently, begin differently and develop differently according to the state of technics; it depends on people and their spirit. "Socialism is possible and impossible at all times; it is possible when the right people are there to will and do it; it is impossible when people either don't will it or only supposedly will it, but are not capable of doing it.""

""It would be madness," Landauer writes in a letter to a woman who wanted to abolish marriage, "to dream of abolishing the few forms of union that remain to us! We need form, not formlessness. We need tradition." He who builds, not arbitrarily and fruitlessly, but legitimately and for the future, acts from inner kinship with age-old tradition, and this entrusts itself to him and gives him strength."

[Nou, hm, traditie is normatief gezien vaak aartsconservatief. Die vrouw stelde terecht de vraag wat we met een insituut als het huwelijk moeten en krijgt dan zo'n onbevredigend antwoord? Dat zegt al heel veel.]

"Landauer said once of Walt Whitman, the poet of heroic democracy whom he translated, that, like Proudhon (with whom in Landauer's opinion he had many spiritual affinities), Whitman united the conservative and the revolutionary spirit. This can be said of Landauer too. What he has in mind is ultimately a revolutionary conservation: a revolutionary selection of those elements worthy to be conserved and fit for the renovation of the social being."

"The strength of revolution lies in rebellion and negation; it cannot solve social problems by political means."

"Again, we are indebted to Landauer rather than to Kropotkin for one vital clarification. If political revolution is to serve social revolution three things are necessary. Firstly: the revolutionaries must be firmly resolved to clear the ground and make the land available as communal property, and thereafter to develop it into a confederation of societies. Secondly: communal property must be so prepared in institutions as to ensure that it can be developed along those lines after the ground has been cleared. Thirdly: such preparations must be conducted in a true spirit of community."

"Socialism can never be anything absolute. It is the continual becoming of human community in mankind, adapted and proportioned to whatever can be willed and done in the conditions given. Rigidity threatens all realization, what lives and glows to-day may be crusted over to-morrow and, become all-powerful, suppress the strivings of the day after."

VII - Experiments

"With the same over-simplification that labelled the early socialists 'utopian', people called the two great waves of the Co-operative Movement that agitated the bulk of the working population of England and France in 1830 and 1848, 'romantic' -- and with no greater justification in so far as this word implies dreaminess and unreality of outlook. These waves were no less expressions of the deep-seated crises accompanying the mechanization of modern economy than were the political movements proper -- Chartism in England and the two Revolutions in France. But, as distinct from the latter, which wanted to alter the whole hierarchy of power, the Co-operative Movements wanted to begin with the creation of social reality, without which no amount of tinkering with legal relationships can ever lead to socialism.
They have been accused of rating man's share in the desired transformation too high and the share of circumstance too low; but there is no way of taking the measure of man's potentialities in a given situation that has to be changed, except by demanding the extraordinary.(...) It is easy to scoff and say that the initiators of the heroic Co- operative Movements 'put the ideal man in the place of the real one'; but the 'real' man approximates most closely to the 'ideal' just when he is expected to fulfil tasks which he is not up to, or thinks he is not up to - - not of the individual alone is it true that 'he grows to his higher purposes'. "

"As regards the three chief forms of co-operation (apart from the Credit Co-operatives), to wit, Consumer Co-operatives, Producer Co-operatives, and Full Co-operatives based on the union of production and consumption -- let us compare a few dates taken from the two epochs of this movement.
The 1830 epoch: 1827 saw the first English Consumer Co-operative in the modern sense founded under the influence of the ideas of Dr. William King; 1832 the first French Producer Co-operative set up according to the plans of Buchez; in between the experimental 'settlements' of Owen and his adherents -- the American experiment and the English ones.
The 1848 epoch: first the Consumer Co-operative of the Rochdale weavers, then Louis Blanc's 'national workshops' and the like, finally, by way of travesty, the tragi-comic 'Icaria' project of Cabet (who was a real Utopian in the negative sense, a social constructionist without the slightest understanding of human fundamentals) on the banks of the Mississippi. Of these no more will be said here -- as attempts to realize 'utopian' Socialism -- than is deemed desirable for the purpose of this book.
King and Buchez were both doctors and both, in contrast to Owen -- whose war against religion was one of the main tasks of his life -- practising Christians, one Protestant, one Catholic. This is not without significance. For Owen socialism was the fruit of reason, for King and Buchez it was the realization of the teachings of Christianity in the domain of public life."

"King calls upon the trades-unions to purchase land with their savings and settle their unemployed members on it in communities producing above all for their own needs."

[Goed idee. Kunnen de huidige vakbonden ook niet zoiets gaan doen? Waarom stopte William King in 1830 eigenlijk met het puibliceren van het blad The Co-operator dat voor de arbeiders een gids was en uitkwam tussen 1828 en 1830? Werd hij daartoe gedwongen? En waarom waren zijn coöperaties uiteindelijk geen succes? Omdat er sprake was van onderdrukking door de bovenlaag? Je leest hier niets over de maatschappelijke machtsverhoudingen en al het geweld tegen de arbeiders die zich wilden verenigen of andere initiatieven namen.]

In 1844 werkte een andere groep aan die idealen, de Rochdale-groep van wevers etc., de Equitable Pioneers of Rochdale.

"The tasks the Society set itself were put very high, without the authors of the statutes being accused of overbold imagination. These tasks were ranged in three stages. The first, the Consumer Co-operative, was regarded as something to be organized at once. The second, the Producer Co-operative, comprising the common building of houses for the members, the common production of wares and the common cultivation of allotments by unemployed comrades, was likewise a prospect for a not far distant future, though not the immediate future. The third stage, the Co-operative Settlement, was removed still further by the proviso 'as soon as practicable': "as soon as practicable this Society shall proceed to arrange the powers of production, distribution, education, and government; or, in other words, to establish a self-supporting Home Colony of united interests or assist other Societies in establishing such Colonies."
It is amazing how the practical intuition of the flannel-weavers of Rochdale grasped the three essential fields of co-operation. In the first field, the Consumer Co-operative, their simple and effective methods (among which the distribution of profits among members according to the relative volume of purchases proved to be particularly persuasive) blazed a new trail. In the field of production they made a number of advances with increasing success, particularly in corn-milling but also in the field of spinning and weaving; yet it is characteristic of the whole problem (to be discussed later) of co-operative activity in production that, in the steam spinning-mills constructed by the Equitable Pioneers, only about half the workers were members of the Society, and hence stockholders, and that these immediately put through the principle of rewarding work with payment but of distributing the profit exclusively among the stockholders as 'entrepreneurs and owners of the business', as the important co-operationist Victor Aime Huber, who repeatedly visited Rochdale in its early days, remarks in his monograph on the Pioneers. They did not, however, get down to the third, the greatest and decisive task, of realizing the Co-operative Colony based on joint production and consumption."

Het idee van consumenten- en producentencoöperaties is blijven bestaan en is ook in de moderne tijd een veel voorkomende vorm van samenwerking tussen arbeiders. Maar hierbij is geen sprake van "the fulfilment of genuine co-operative thought" vindt Buber.

"But for the most part the running of large co-operative institutions has become more and more like the running of capitalist ones, and the bureaucratic principle has completely ousted, over a very wide field, the voluntary principle, once prized as the most precious and indispensable possession of the Co-operative Movement.(...) For the spirit of solidarity can in truth only remain alive to the extent that a living relationship obtains between human beings. Tönnies thought that in their transition to communal buying and then to producing for their own needs the Consumer Societies would "lay the foundations of an economic organization that would stand in open opposition to the existing social order", and that in theory "the capitalist world would therefore be lifted off its hinges". But 'theory' can never become reality so long as the life-forms of capitalism permeate co-operative activity."

"Buchez recognized with astounding acuteness most of the dangers that threaten the socialist character of the Producer Co-operative from within, one above all, the increasing differentiation inside the Co-operative in its initial stages between those comrades who have founded it and the workers who come afterwards -- a differentiation which lends the Co-operative, though it plead socialism never so energetically, the incontestable stamp of an appendage to the capitalist order."

"Well might Blanc be anxious to attack "the cowardly and brutal principle" of competition, as he once called it in the National Assembly, at the root; that is, to prevent collective competition from emerging in the place of individual competition. And this is indeed the chief danger, apart from internal differentiation, that threatens the Producer Co-operative."

"Despite the early suppression of the Co-operative Federations by the Reaction, numerous new Producer Co-operatives came into being in France during the following years;"

[Kijk, hier wordt die onderdrukking wel genoemd. Waarom niet voor de Engelse situatie? Daar zal het echt niet anders geweest zijn.]

"Even the persecution and dissolution of many of the Co-operatives after the coup d'état was unable to check the movement. The real danger threatening them here as in England came from within: their capitalization, their gradual transformation into capitalist or semi-capitalist societies. Forty years after the enthusiastic efforts, beginning about 1850, of the English Christian Socialists to create a wide net of Workers' Producer Co-operatives which "rejected any notion of competition with each other as inconsistent with the true form of society", Beatrice Webb stated that with the exception of a few Co- operatives which had remained more or less true to the ideal of a 'brotherhood of workers' -- most of which, however, had become questionable at one point or another -- all the rest "exhibit an amazing variety of aristocratic, plutocratic and monarchical constitutions". And fifty years after Louis Blanc there was a thoroughly typical (in this respect) Producer Co-operative in France, that of the spectacle-makers, which, apart from a small number of associés and approximately as many adherents, employed ten times as many wage-earners. Despite this, however, we can find perfect examples of the inner battle for socialism everywhere."

"Most of the known experimental Settlements came to grief or petered out -- and not, as some think, the communist ones alone. Here we must exempt the individual efforts of various religious sects, efforts whose vitality can only be understood in terms of a particular group's faith and as the partial manifestation of this faith; it is characteristic that the federative form makes its appearance here and here alone, as, for instance, with the Russian sect of the Dukhobors in Canada or the 'Hutterite Brothers'. It is, therefore, unjust of Kropotkin to trace the collapse of the experimental communist Settlements to the fact that they were "founded on an uprush of religiosity, instead of seeing in the commune simply a mode of consumption and production economically ordered". For it is precisely where a Settlement comes into being as the expression of real religious exaltation, and not merely as a precarious substitute for religion, and where it views its existence as the beginning of God's kingdom -- that it usually proves its powers of endurance."

[Dat kan ik me wel voorstellen: een verzameling van regels en rituelen die mensen verbindt gaat daar immers mee samen. Een gemeenschap alleen maar rondom consumptie en productie heeft iets kaals en verbindt niet erg. Maar: ik blijf vinden dat het echte gemeenschapsgevoel niet per se door religie hoeft te ontstaan.]

"When Owen, returning from a journey to England, saw the Settlement again after it had lasted three years, he had to confess that "the attempt to unite a number of strangers not previously educated for the purpose, who should live together as a common family, was premature", and that "the habits of the individual system" die hard."

"Common purchasing as such lays no very significant demands on the individuals participating in it, unless it be in exceptional times when it is a question of common care and responsibility for a common task, as in the 'heroic' age of the Co-operative Movement or in the crises since then, when private persons came forward in a spirit of sacrifice to alleviate the distress of the many."

"The Producer Co-operative is better suited in itself than the Consumer Co-operative to take part in a restructuring of this sort, i.e. to function as the cell of a new structure. Common production of goods implicates people more profoundly than a common acquisition of goods for individual consumption; it embraces much more of their powers and their lifetime. Man as producer is by nature more prepared to get together with his kind in an eminently active way than man as consumer; and is more capable of forming living social units."

"If the principle of organic re-structuring is to become a determining factor the influence of the Full Co-operative will be needed, since in it production and consumption are united and industry is complemented by agriculture. However long it may take the Full Co-operative to become the cell of the new society, it is vitally important for it to start building itself up now as a far-reaching complex of interlocking, magnetic foci. A genuine and lasting reorganization of society from within can only prosper in the union of producers and consumers, each of the two partners being composed of independent and homogeneous co-operative units; a union whose power and vitality for socialism can only be guaranteed by a wealth of Full Co-operatives all working together and, in their functional synthesis, exercising a mediatory and unifying influence.
For this it is necessary, however, that in place of all the isolated experiments (condemned in the nature of things to isolation) that have made their appearance in the course of more than a hundred years of struggle, there should emerge a network of Settlements, territorially based and federatively constructed, without dogmatic rigidity, allowing the most diverse social forms to exist side by side, but always aiming at the new organic whole."

VIII - Marx and the renewal of society

Eerst zet Buber neer waar hij zelf staat.

[De volgende lange alinea vat dat standpunt perfect samen.]

"We have seen that it is the goal of Utopian socialism so-called to substitute society for State to the greatest degree possible, moreover a society that is 'genuine' and not a State in disguise. The prime conditions for a genuine society can be summed up as follows: it is not an aggregate of essentially unrelated individuals, for such an aggregate could only be held together by a 'political', i.e. a coercive principle of government; it must be built up of little societies on the basis of communal life and of the associations of these societies; and the mutual relations of the societies and their associations must be determined to the greatest possible extent by the social principle -- the principle of inner cohesion, collaboration and mutual stimulation.

In other words: only a structurally rich society can claim the inheritance of the State. This goal can be attained neither by a change in the order of government, i.e. those who dispose of the means of power, alone; nor by a change in the order of ownership, i.e. those who dispose of the means of production, alone; nor yet by any laws and institutions governing the forms of social life from outside, alone -- nor by a combination of all these. All these things are necessary at certain stages of the transformation, with the restriction, of course, that no coercive order shall result which would standardize the whole and not tolerate the emergence of those elements of spontaneity, internal dynamism and diversity so indispensable to the evolution of a genuine society.

What, however, is essential, so essential that all these phases should only subserve its full implementation, is the growth of the genuine society itself, partly from already existing societies to be renewed in form and meaning, partly from societies to be built anew. The more such a society is actually and potentially in being at the time of the changes, the more it will be possible to realize socialism as an actuality in the changed order, that is, to obviate the danger of the power-principle -- be it in political or economic form or both -- finding entry again, and of the human relations -- the real life of society -- remaining, underneath the changed surface of laws and institutions, as hopelessly out of joint and askew as ever they were under the capitalist regime.

Those changes in the economic and political order inevitably imply, as regards the realization of socialism, the necessary removal of obstacles, but no more and no less. Without such a change the realization of socialism remains nothing but an idea, an impulse and an isolated experiment; but without the actual re-structuring of society the change of order is only a facade. It is not to be supposed that the change comes first and the re-structuring afterwards; a society in transformation may well create for itself the instruments it needs for its maintenance, for its defence, for the removal of obstacles, but changed power-relations do not of themselves create a new society capable of overcoming the power-principle.

'Utopian' socialism regards the various forms of Co-operative Society as being the most important cells for social re-structure; and the more 'Utopianism' clarifies its ideas the more patently does the leading role seem to fall to the Producer-cum-Consumer Cooperative. The Co-operative is not an end in itself for the 'Utopian', not even when a large measure of socialism has been successfully realized within it; the point is rather to produce the substance which will then be released by the new order, established in its own right so as to unify the multifarious cells.

Genuine 'utopian' socialism can be termed 'topical' socialism in a specific sense: it is not without topographical character, it seeks to realize itself in a given place and under given conditions, that is, 'here and now', and to the greatest degree possible here and now. But it regards the local realization (and this has become increasingly clear as the idea has developed) as nothing but a point of departure, a beginning, something that must be there for the big realization to join itself on to; that must be there if this realization is to fight for its freedom and win universal validity; that must be there if the new society is to arise out of it, out of all its cells and those they make in their likeness."

Vanuit dit perspectief wordt gekeken naar Marx en marxisme. Ook Marx heeft een sociaal einddoel in gedachten.

"From this we can see with the greatest clarity what it is that connects Marx with 'utopian' socialism: the will to supersede the political principle by the social principle, and what divides him from it: his opinion that this supersession can be effected by exclusively political means -- hence by way of sheer suicide, so to speak, on the part of the political principle."

"By omitting to draw a clear line of demarcation between power in its proper and improper senses Marx opens the door to a type of political principle which, in his opinion, does not and cannot exist: a type which is not the expression and elaboration of class-rule, but is rather the expression and elaboration of power-tendencies and power-struggles not characterized by class, on the part of groups or individuals. Political power in the improper sense would accordingly be 'the official sum of antagonisms' either within the proletarian class itself or, more precisely, within the nation in which 'class-rule has been abolished'."

"A federalism of communes and Co-operatives -- for that is precisely what this picture sketches -- is thus acknowledged by Marx as genuine communism"

"Here we have that notion of 'development' again, dating from 1847; but this time it is completely unequivocal and indubitably meant in the sense of a pre-revolutionary process, one, moreover, whose nature consists in the formation of small, federable units of men's work and life together, of communes and Co-operatives, in respect to which it is the sole task of the Revolution to set them free, to unite them and endow them with authority. "

"In actual fact no prudent anti-authoritarian socialist had ever demanded anything but that the revolution should begin by curing the hypertrophy of authority, its proliferation, and from then on concentrate on reducing it to proportions that would correspond to the circumstances given at any time. Engels answers the alleged demand as follows: "Have you ever seen a revolution, gentlemen? A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is." If that means that the revolutionary struggle as such must proceed under far-sighted leadership and strict discipline, so much cannot be doubted; but if it means that in the revolutionary epoch (of which nobody can say when it will end), the whole population is to be limitlessly determined in all branches of its life and thought by one central authoritarian will, then it is inconceivable how such a stage can ever evolve into socialism."

"But nothing affords us a deeper insight into Marx's ambivalent attitude to the question of the internal transformation of society and the conditions for it than his correspondence with Vera Zasulitch in 1881."

"In theory Marx affirmed the possibility of a pre-revolutionary development of the commune in the direction desired, but in practice he made its 'salvation' dependent on the timely appearance of the revolution. Here as elsewhere the determining factor is clearly the political element: the fear lest constructive work should sap the strength of the revolutionary impetus."

"As against Eduard Bernstein, who rightly pointed out the similarity between the programme of the Paris Commune as reported by Marx and Proudhon's federalism, Lenin declared emphatically that Marx was a centralist and that his statements in the Civil War in France show "no trace of a deviation from centralism". Stated in such general terms this view is untenable. (...) Nevertheless, Lenin was not wrong; Marx always remained a centralist at heart. For him the communes were essentially political units, battle-organs of the revolution."

IX - Lenin and the renewal of society

"The socialist idea points of necessity, even in Marx and Lenin, to the organic construction of a new society out of little societies inwardly bound together by common life and common work, and their associations. But neither in Marx nor Lenin does the idea give rise to any clear and consistent frame of reference for action. In both cases the decentralist element of re-structure is displaced by the centralist element of revolutionary politics."

"The decision always falls -- in the theory and directives of the movement with Marx, in the practice of revolution and the reordering of the State and economics with Lenin -- essentially in favour of politics, that is, in favour of centralization. A good deal of this can certainly be attributed to the situation itself, to the difficulties which the Socialist movement had to face and the quite special difficulties faced by the Soviet regime; but over and above that a certain conception and a certain tendency subsequently came to the fore which we may find in Marx and Engels and which thereafter devolved upon Lenin and Stalin: the conception of one absolute centre of doctrine and action from which the only valid theses and the only authoritative decrees can issue, this centre being virtually a dictatorship masked by the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' -- in other words: the tendency to perpetuate centralist revolutionary politics at the cost of the decentralist needs of a nascent socialist community. "

"The life-and-death struggle of the sole valid doctrine and sole programme of action against all other versions of socialism cannot pass itself off as unpolitical; it must, therefore, brand every other kind of socialism as bogus, as a vestige of bourgeois ideologies; for so long as any other version of socialism exists the Revolution cannot yet be at an end, obviously, and the political principle cannot yet have been superseded by the social, although the organizing activity has already begun. Political power 'in the improper sense' can indeed become far more comprehensive, ruthless and 'totalitarian' in its centralist pretensions than political power 'in its proper sense' ever was."

"As to the problem of action Lenin starts off with a purely dialectical formula: "So long as there is a State there is no freedom. Once there is freedom there will be no more State." Such dialectics obscures the essential task, which is to test day by day what the maximum of freedom is that can and may be realized to-day; to test how much 'State' is still necessary to-day, and always to draw the practical conclusions. In all probability there will never -- so long as man is what he is -- be 'freedom' pure and simple, and there will be 'State', i.e. compulsion, for just so long; the important thing, however, is the day to day question: no more State than is indispensable, no less freedom than is allowable. And freedom, socially speaking, means above all freedom for community, a community free and independent of State compulsion."

"And yet a beginning had been made with structural transformation, not indeed on Lenin's initiative, although he recognized its importance if not all its potential structural qualities -- a peculiarly Russian beginning akin to the proposals of the Paris Commune and one that had tremendous possibilities -- namely the Soviets. The history of the Soviet regime so far, whatever else it is, has been the history of the destruction of these possibilities."

"Naturally Lenin did not fail to realize that the Councils were in essence a decentralist organization. "All Russia," he says in April, 1917, "is already overspread by a network of local organs of self-administration." The specific revolutionary measures -- abolition of the police, abolition of the standing army, the arming of the whole population -- could also be put into effect by local self-government; and that is the whole point. But that these organs could and should come together as a lasting organism based on local and functional decentralization after the accomplishment of this task, is not so much as hinted at by a single word, apparently not even by a thought. The setting up and strengthening of self-administration has no ultimate purpose or object other than a revolutionary-political one: to make a self-administration a reality means 'to drive the Revolution forwards'."

"In the planned, all-embracing State Co-operative he sees the fulfilment of the 'dreams' of the old Co-operatives begun with Robert Owen. Here the contradiction between idea and realization reaches its apogee. What those 'Utopians', beginning with Robert Owen, were concerned about in their thoughts and plans for association was the voluntary combination of people into small independent units of communal life and work, and the voluntary combination of those into a community of communities. What Lenin describes as the fulfilment of these thoughts and plans is the diametrical opposite of them, is an immense, utterly centralized complex of State production-centres and State distribution-centres, a mechanism of bureaucratically run institutes for production and consumption, each locked into the other like cog-wheels: as for spontaneity, free association, there is no longer any room for them whatever, no longer the possibility of even dreaming of them -- with the 'fulfilment' of the dream the dream is gone. Such at any rate had been Lenin's conception of the dovetailing of the Co-operative system into the State, and in that otherwise very exhaustive essay of his written eight months before his death he did not deny it. He wanted to give the movement which had then reached its peak and which implied a reduction of centralism in all fields, a definitive theoretical basis; but he denied it -- necessarily, given his train of thought -- the basis of all bases: the element of freedom."

"Far longer than with any other people the 'medieval' tendency to associate in little bands for the purpose of common work has been preserved among the Russians. Of the most singular social formation to have sprung from this tendency, the Artel, Kropotkin could say some forty years ago that it constituted the proper substance of Russian peasant life -- a loose, shifting association of fishermen and hunters, manual workers and traders, hauliers and returned Siberian convicts, peasants who travelled to the city to work as weavers or carpenters, and peasants who went in for communal corn-growing or cattle-raising in the village, with, however, divisions as between communal and individual property. Here an incomparable building element lay ready to hand for a great re-structural idea. The Bolshevist Revolution never used it. It had no use for independent small communities."

X - In the midst of crisis

"The essential thing among all those things which once helped man to emerge from Nature and, notwithstanding his feebleness as a natural being, to assert himself -- more essential even than the making of a 'technical' world out of things expressly formed for the purpose -- was this: that he banded together with his own kind for protection and hunting, food gathering and work; and did so in such a way that from the very beginning and thereafter to an increasing degree he faced the others as more or less independent entities and communicated with them as such, addressing and being addressed by them in that manner. This creation of a 'social' world out of persons at once mutually dependent and independent differed in kind from all similar undertakings on the part of animals, just as the technical work of man differed in kind from all the animals' works. "

"In the evolution of mankind hitherto this, then, is the line that predominates: the forming and re-forming of communities on the basis of growing personal independence, their mutual recognition and collaboration on that basis."

"Wherever genuine human society has since developed it has always been on this same basis of functional autonomy, mutual recognition and mutual responsibility, whether individual or collective. Power-centres of various kinds have split off, organizing and guaranteeing the common order and security of all; but to the political sphere in the stricter sense, the State with its police-system and its bureaucracy, there was always opposed the organic, functionally organized society as such, a great society built up of various societies, the great society in which men lived and worked, competed with one another and helped one another; and in each of the big and little societies composing it, in each of these communes and communities the individual human being, despite all the difficulties and conflicts, felt himself at home as once in the clan, felt himself approved and affirmed in his functional independence and responsibility."

"We must begin, obviously, with the establishment of a vital peace which will deprive the political principle of its supremacy over the social principle. And this primary objective cannot in its turn be reached by any devices of political organization, but only by the resolute will of all peoples to cultivate the territories and raw materials of our planet and govern its inhabitants, together. At this point, however, we are threatened by a danger greater than all the previous ones: the danger of a gigantic centralization of power covering the whole planet and devouring all free community. Everything depends on not handing the work of planetary management over to the political principle."

"The primary aspiration of all history is a genuine community of human beings -- genuine because it is community all through. A community that failed to base itself on the actual and communal life of big and little groups living and working together, and on their mutual relationships, would be fictitious and counterfeit. Hence everything depends on whether the collectivity into whose hands the control of the means of production passes will facilitate and promote in its very structure and in all its institutions the genuine common life of the various groups composing it -- on whether, in fact, these groups themselves become proper foci of the productive process; therefore on whether the masses are so organized in their separate organizations (the various 'communities') as to be as powerful as the common economy of man permits; therefore on whether centralist representation only goes as far as the new order of things absolutely demands.

The fatal question does not take the form of a fundamental Either-Or: it is only a question of the right line of demarcation that has to be drawn ever anew -- the thousandfold system of demarcation between the spheres which must of necessity be centralized and those which can operate in freedom; between the degree of government and the degree of autonomy; between the law of unity and the claims of community. The unwearying scrutiny of conditions in terms of the claims of community, as something continually exposed to the depredations of centralist power -- the custody of the true boundaries, ever changing in accordance with changing historical circumstances: such would be the task of humanity's spiritual conscience, a Supreme Court unexampled in kind, the right true representation of a living idea. A new incarnation is waiting here for Plato's 'custodians'."

"Yet a community need not be 'founded'. "

"All this, I may be told, has gone irrevocably and for ever. The modern city has no agora and the modern man has no time for negotiations of which his elected representatives can very well relieve him. The pressure of numbers and the forms of organization have destroyed any real togetherness. Work forges other personal links than does leisure, sport again others than politics, the day is cleanly divided and the soul too. These links are material ones; though we follow our common interests and tendencies together, we have no use for 'immediacy'. The collectivity is not a warm, friendly gathering but a great link-up of economic and political forces inimical to the play of romantic fancies, only understandable in terms of quantity, expressing itself in actions and effects -- a thing which the individual has to belong to with no intimacies of any kind but all the time conscious of his energetic contribution. Any 'unions' that resist the inevitable trend of events must disappear. There is still the family, of course, which, as a domestic community, seems to demand and guarantee a modicum of communal life; but it too will either emerge from the crisis in which it is involved, as an association for a common purpose, or else it will perish."

"Faced with this medley of correct premises and absurd conclusions I declare in favour of a rebirth of the commune. A rebirth -- not a bringing back."

"The relationship between centralism and decentralization is a problem which, as we have seen, cannot be approached in principle, but, like everything to do with the relationship between idea and reality, only with great spiritual tact, with the constant and tireless weighing and measuring of the right proportion between them."

Epilogue - An experiment that did not fail

"The era of advanced Capitalism has broken down the structure of society.(...) Exercising control over the machines and, with their help, over the whole society, Capitalism wants to deal only with individuals; and the modern State aids and abets it by progressively dispossessing groups of their autonomy. The militant organizations which the proletariat erected against Capitalism -- Trades Unions in the economic sphere and the Party in the political -- are unable in the nature of things to counteract this process of dissolution, since they have no access to the life of society itself and its foundations: production and consumption. "

"The repeated attempts that have been made during the last 150 years, both in Europe and America, to found village settlements of this kind, whether communistic or co-operative in the narrower sense, have mostly met with failure. I would apply the word 'failure' not merely to those settlements, or attempts at settlements, which after a more or less short-lived existence either disintegrated completely or took on a Capitalist complexion, thus going over to the enemy camp; I would also apply it to those that maintained themselves in isolation. For the real, the truly structural task of the new Village Communes begins with their federation, that is, their union under the same principle that operates in their internal structure. Hardly anywhere has it come to this. "

"As I see history and the present, there is only one all-out effort to create a Full Co-operative which justifies our speaking of success in the socialistic sense, and that is the Jewish Village Commune in its various forms, as found in Palestine."

Start  ||   Glossen  ||   Weblog  ||   Boeken  ||   Onderzoek