Sunday, 26 January 2014

Joseph Déjacque calls out Proudhon for his sexism.

Father Proudhon, shall I say it? When you talk of women you appear like a college boy who talks very loudly and in a high key, at random and with impertinence, in order to appear learned, as you do to your callow hearers, and who like you knows not the first thing of the matter he is talking about.
After having profaned your flesh for forty years you now profane your intelligence, and passing from pollution to pollution you pour forth your impurities to besmirch women.

Is that what you call manly and honest civility, Narcissus-Proudhon? I quote your words:

“No, Madam, you know nothing about your sex; you know not the first thing about the questions you and your honorable associates agitate with so much noise and so little success. And if you do not understand this question, if in the eight pages of the response which you have made to my letter there are forty illogical conclusions, that shows the truth of what I have said of the infirmity of your sex. I mean by these words—the exactness of which may not be irreproachable—the quality of your understanding which will not permit you to seize the significance of thing:; which we men have at our fingers’ ends. In your skull, as in your abdomen, is a certain organ which is incapable of conquering its own inertia; which requires the male to make it perform its functions. And even then it is not always successful. Such madam, is my opinion, the result of my direct and positive observations. I leave it to your obstetrical sagacity to calculate from it for your thesis the incalculable consequences

He criticises him for not going far enough in his anarchism.
Be then frankly an entire anarchist and not a quarter anarchist, an eighth anarchist, or one-sixteenth anarchist, as one is a one-fourth, one-eighth or one-sixteenth partner in trade. Go beyond the abolition of contract to the abolition not only of the sword and of capital, but also of property and of authority in all its forms. Then you will have arrived at the anarchist community; that is to say, the social state where each one is free to produce or consume according to his will or his fancy without controlling, or being controlled by any other person whatever; where the balance of production and consumption is established naturally, no longer by the restrictive laws and arbitrary force of others, but lb the free exercise of industry prompted by the needs and desires of each individual. The sea of humanity needs no dikes. Give its tides full sweep and each day they will find their level. "
Do I need, for example, one sun for myself, one river for myself, one forest for my own, or all the houses in all the streets for my own? Have I the right to become the proprietor of them to the exclusion of others, especially when I do not need them? If I have not that right, is it any more just for me to wish, as under the system of contracts, to measure to each one—according to his accidental ability to produce—just what proportion he should receive of all things; how much of the sun’s rays he is entitled to, how many cubic feet of air and of water shall he allotted to him, or the extent of his promenades in the forests; what number or the parts of the houses he may occupy, what streets he may walk in and what streets he must keep out of?
With or without contract, will I consume more than is good for me? Will I take all of the sunlight, all of the air, all of the water? Will I monopolize all of the shade of the trees, all of the streets of the city, all of the houses or all of the rooms of the houses? And if I have a right to the productions of nature, such as the light and the air, have I not also a right to manufactured products, such as the street or the house? Of what use then is a contract that can add nothing to my liberty, but on the contrary most certainly will restrain it?
And as for production, will the activity of my nature be developed all the more by being restrained? It is absurd to assert such a thing. the so-called free workman even in the present state of society, produces more and does his work better than the negro slave. How would it be if he were really and universally free? His productive power would increase one-hundred fold.
But the idlers? you say. Idlers are produced by the abnormal conditions of society. That is to say, when idleness is held in honor and labor in contempt it is not surprising that men are reluctant to engage in labor which repays them in bitter fruit. But in an anarchist community, with the arts and sciences developed as they will be developed in our days, nothing of the kind could he seen. Of course there would be, as there are today, some who would be greater producers than others, and there would he some who would be greater consumers than others, but those most active in producing would also be most active in consuming. The equation is natural. Do you demand proof? Take one hundred workmen at random and you will find the greatest producers are the greatest consumers"

Raise your voice, on the contrary, against the exploitation of woman by man. Proclaim to the world with that vigor of argument which has made him famous as an intellectual athlete, that man, without the aid of woman, is unable to drag the revolution out of the mire, to pluck it out of the filthy and bloodstained rut into which it has fallen; that alone he is powerless; that he must have the support of woman’s heart and brain; that in the path of progress they should march forward together, side by side, hand in hand; that man can not attain his goal and endure the fatigue of the journey without the sustaining sympathy and the encouraging caresses of woman.
Say to the man and to the woman that their destinies are to draw nearer together and to understand each other better; that they have one and the same name as they are one and the same being—the human being; that they are, each in turn, the one right and the other the left hand and that in the human identity their hearts are as one heart and their thoughts are inseparable.
Say to them that in this condition only can they he able to sustain and support each other in the journey and the light of their love shall pierce the shadows that separate the present from the future, or civilized society from harmonized society. Tell them the human being, in its relative proportion and manifestations, is like the glow-worm, which shines only by love and for love.
Say that. Be stronger than your prejudices; more generous than spiteful. Proclaim Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, the indivisibility of the human being. Do it; it is for the salvation of the public. Declare humanity in danger; call on man and woman to cast prejudiced invaders out of the frontier of social progress; create a second and a third of September against that other masculine nobility, that aristocracy of sex which would rivet us to customs of the past. Do it; it is necessary. Proclaim it with passion, with genius, trumpet-tongued, make it thunder . . and you will have well won the esteem of others and of yourself"

Joseph Déjacque, On the Human Being, Male and Female 1857.


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