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Hegal had no right to speak. Any one who desired to understand the truth
studied Hegel. Every thing rested on him. And all at once the forties
passed, and there was nothing left of him. There was not even a hint of
him, any more than if he had never existed. And the most amazing thing
of all was, that Hegelianism did not fall because some one overthrew it
or destroyed it. No! It was the same then as now, but all at once it
appeared that it was of no use whatever to the learned and cultivated

There was a time when the Hegelian wise men triumphantly instructed the
masses; and the crowd, understanding nothing, blindly believed in every
thing, finding confirmation in the fact that it was on hand; and they
believed that what seemed to them muddy and contradictory there on the
heights of philosophy was all as clear as the day. But that time has
gone by. That theory is worn out: a new theory has presented itself in
its stead. The old one has become useless; and the crowd has looked into
the secret sanctuaries of the high priests, and has seen that there is
nothing there, and that there has been nothing there, save very obscure
and senseless words. This has taken place within my memory.

"But this arises," people of the present science will say, "from the fact
that all that was the raving of the theological and metaphysical period;
but now there exists positive, critical science, which does not deceive,
since it is all founded on induction and experiment. Now our erections
are not shaky, as they formerly were, and only in our path lies the
solution of all the problems of humanity."

But the old teachers said precisely the same, and they were no fools; and
we know that there were people of great intelligence among them. And
precisely thus, within my memory, and with no less confidence, with no
less recognition on the part of the crowd of so-called cultivated people,
spoke the Hegelians. And neither were our Herzens, our Stankevitches, or
our Byelinskys fools. But whence arose that marvellous manifestation,
that sensible people should preach with the greatest assurance, and that
the crowd should accept with devotion, such unfounded and unsupportable
teachings? There is but one reason, - that the teachings thus inculcated
justified people in their evil life.

A very poor English writer, whose works are all forgotten, and recognized
as the most insignificant of the insignificant, writes a treatise on
population, in which he devises a fictitious law concerning the increase
of population disproportionate to the means of subsistence. This
fictitious law, this writer encompasses with mathematical formulae
founded on nothing whatever; and then he launches it on the world. From
the frivolity and the stupidity of this hypothesis, one would suppose
that it would not attract the attention of any one, and that it would
sink into oblivion, like all the works of the same author which followed
it; but it turned out quite otherwise. The hack-writer who penned this
treatise instantly becomes a scientific authority, and maintains himself
upon that height for nearly half a century. Malthus! The Malthusian
theory, - the law of the increase of the population in geometrical, and of
the means of subsistence in arithmetical proportion, and the wise and
natural means of restricting the population, - all these have become
scientific, indubitable truths, which have not been confirmed, but which
have been employed as axioms, for the erection of false theories. In
this manner have learned and cultivated people proceeded; and among the
herd of idle persons, there sprung up a pious trust in the great laws
expounded by Malthus. How did this come to pass? It would seem as
though they were scientific deductions, which had nothing in common with
the instincts of the masses. But this can only appear so for the man who
believes that science, like the Church, is something self-contained,
liable to no errors, and not simply the imaginings of weak and erring
folk, who merely substitute the imposing word "science," in place of the
thoughts and words of the people, for the sake of impressiveness.

All that was necessary was to make practical deductions from the theory
of Malthus, in order to perceive that this theory was of the most human
sort, with the best defined of objects. The deductions directly arising
from this theory were the following: The wretched condition of the
laboring classes was such in accordance with an unalterable law, which
does not depend upon men; and, if any one is to blame in this matter, it
is the hungry laboring classes themselves. Why are they such fools as to
give birth to children, when they know that there will be nothing for the
children to eat? And so this deduction, which is valuable for the herd
of idle people, has had this result: that all learned men overlooked the
incorrectness, the utter arbitrariness of these deductions, and their
insusceptibility to proof; and the throng of cultivated, i.e., of idle
people, knowing instinctively to what these deductions lead, saluted this
theory with enthusiasm, conferred upon it the stamp of truth, i.e., of
science, and dragged it about with them for half a century.

Is not this same thing the cause of the confidence of men in positive
critical-experimental science, and of the devout attitude of the crowd
towards that which it preaches? At first it seems strange, that the
theory of evolution can in any manner justify people in their evil ways;
and it seems as though the scientific theory of evolution has to deal
only with facts, and that it does nothing else but observe facts.

But this only appears to be the case.

Exactly the same thing appeared to be the case with the Hegelian
doctrine, in a greater degree, and also in the special instance of the
Malthusian doctrine. Hegelianism was, apparently, occupied only with its
logical constructions, and bore no relation to the life of mankind.
Precisely this seemed to be the case with the Malthusian theory. It
appeared to be busy itself only with statistical data. But this was only
in appearance.

Contemporary science is also occupied with facts alone: it investigates
facts. But what facts? Why precisely these facts, and no others?

The men of contemporary science are very fond of saying, triumphantly and
confidently, "We investigate only facts," imagining that these words
contain some meaning. It is impossible to investigate facts alone,
because the facts which are subject to our investigation are
_innumerable_ (in the definite sense of that word), - innumerable. Before
we proceed to investigate facts, we must have a theory on the foundation
of which these or those facts can be inquired into, i.e., selected from
the incalculable quantity.

And this theory exists, and is even very definitely expressed, although
many of the workers in contemporary science do not know it, or often
pretend that they do not know it. Exactly thus has it always been with
all prevailing and guiding doctrines. The foundations of every doctrine
are always stated in a theory, and the so-called learned men merely
invent further deductions from the foundations once stated. Thus
contemporary science is selecting its facts on the foundation of a very
definite theory, which it sometimes knows, sometimes refuses to know, and
sometimes really does not know; but the theory exists.

The theory is as follows: All mankind is an undying organism; men are the
particles of that organism, and each one of them has his own special task
for the service of others. In the same manner, the cells united in an
organism share among them the labor of fight for existence of the whole
organism; they magnify the power of one capacity, and weaken another, and
unite in one organ, in order the better to supply the requirements of the
whole organism. And exactly in the same manner as with gregarious
animals, - ants or bees, - the separate individuals divide the labor among
them. The queen lays the egg, the drone fructifies it; the bee works his
whole life long. And precisely this thing takes place in mankind and in
human societies. And therefore, in order to find the law of life for
man, it is necessary to study the laws of the life and the development of

In the life and development of organisms, we find the following laws: the
law of differentiation and integration, the law that every phenomenon is
accompanied not by direct consequences alone, another law regarding the
instability of type, and so on. All this seems very innocent; but it is
only necessary to draw the deductions from all these laws, in order to
immediately perceive that these laws incline in the same direction as the
law of Malthus. These laws all point to one thing; namely, to the
recognition of that division of labor which exists in human communities,
as organic, that is to say, as indispensable. And therefore, the unjust
position in which we, the people who have freed ourselves from labor,
find ourselves, must be regarded not from the point of view of common-
sense and justice, but merely as an undoubted fact, confirming the
universal law.

Moral philosophy also justified every sort of cruelty and harshness; but
this resulted in a philosophical manner, and therefore wrongly. But with
science, all this results scientifically, and therefore in a manner not
to be doubted.

How can we fail to accept so very beautiful a theory? It is merely
necessary to look upon human society as an object of contemplation; and I
can console myself with the thought that my activity, whatever may be its
nature, is a functional activity of the organism of humanity, and that
therefore there cannot arise any question as to whether it is just that
I, in employing the labor of others, am doing only that which is
agreeable to me, as there can arise no question as to the division of
labor between the brain cells and the muscular cells. How is it possible
not to admit so very beautiful a theory, in order that one may be able,
ever after, to pocket one's conscience, and have a perfectly unbridled
animal existence, feeling beneath one's self that support of science
which is not to be shaken nowadays!

And it is on this new doctrine that the justification for men's idleness
and cruelty is now founded.


This doctrine had its rise not so very long - fifty years - ago. Its
principal founder was the French _savant_ Comte. There occurred to
Comte, - a systematist, and a religious man to boot, - under the influence
of the then novel physiological investigations of Biche, the old idea
already set forth by Menenius Agrippa, - the idea that human society, all
humanity even, might be regarded as one whole, as an organism; and men as
living parts of the separate organs, having each his own definite
appointment to serve the entire organism.

This idea so pleased Comte, that upon it he began to erect a
philosophical theory; and this theory so carried him away, that he
utterly forgot that the point of departure for his theory was nothing
more than a very pretty comparison, which was suitable for a fable, but
which could by no means serve as the foundation for science. He, as
frequently happens, mistook his pet hypothesis for an axiom, and imagined
that his whole theory was erected on the very firmest of foundations.
According to his theory, it seemed that since humanity is an organism,
the knowledge of what man is, and of what should be his relations to the
world, was possible only through a knowledge of the features of this
organism. For the knowledge of these qualities, man is enabled to take
observations on other and lower organisms, and to draw conclusions from
their life. Therefore, in the fist place, the true and only method,
according to Comte, is the inductive, and all science is only such when
it has experiment as its basis; in the second place, the goal and crown
of sciences is formed by that new science dealing with the imaginary
organism of humanity, or the super-organic being, - humanity, - and this
newly devised science is sociology.

And from this view of science it appears, that all previous knowledge was
deceitful, and that the whole story of humanity, in the sense of self-
knowledge, has been divided into three, actually into two, periods: the
theological and metaphysical period, extending from the beginning of the
world to Comte, and the present period, - that of the only true science,
positive science, - beginning with Comte.

All this was very well. There was but one error, and that was this, - that
the whole edifice was erected on the sand, on the arbitrary and false
assertion that humanity is an organism. This assertion was arbitrary,
because we have just as much right to admit the existence of a human
organism, not subject to observation, as we have to admit the existence
of any other invisible, fantastic being. This assertion was erroneous,
because for the understanding of humanity, i.e., of men, the definition
of an organism was incorrectly constructed, while in humanity itself all
actual signs of organism, - the centre of feeling or consciousness, are
lacking. {178}

But, in spite of the arbitrariness and incorrectness of the fundamental
assumption of positive philosophy, it was accepted by the so-called
cultivated world with the greatest sympathy. In this connection, one
thing is worthy of note: that out of the works of Comte, consisting of
two parts, of positive philosophy and of positive politics, only the
first was adopted by the learned world, - that part which justifieth, on
new promises, the existent evil of human societies; but the second part,
treating of the moral obligations of altruism, arising from the
recognition of mankind as an organism, was regarded as not only of no
importance, but as trivial and unscientific. It was a repetition of the
same thing that had happened in the case of Kant's works. The "Critique
of Pure Reason" was adopted by the scientific crowd; but the "Critique of
Applied Reason," that part which contains the gist of moral doctrine, was
repudiated. In Kant's doctrine, that was accepted as scientific which
subserved the existent evil. But the positive philosophy, which was
accepted by the crowd, was founded on an arbitrary and erroneous basis,
was in itself too unfounded, and therefore unsteady, and could not
support itself alone. And so, amid all the multitude of the idle plays
of thought of the men professing the so-called science, there presents
itself an assertion equally devoid of novelty, and equally arbitrary and
erroneous, to the effect that living beings, i.e., organisms, have had
their rise in each other, - not only one organism from another, but one
from many; i.e., that in a very long interval of time (in a million of
years, for instance), not only could a duck and a fish proceed from one
ancestor, but that one animal might result from a whole hive of bees. And
this arbitrary and erroneous assumption was accepted by the learned world
with still greater and more universal sympathy. This assumption was
arbitrary, because no one has ever seen how one organism is made from
another, and therefore the hypothesis as to the origin of species will
always remain an hypothesis, and not an experimental fact. And this
hypothesis was also erroneous, because the decision of the question as to
the origin of species - that they have originated, in consequence of the
law of heredity and fitness, in the course of an interminably long
time - is no solution at all, but merely a re-statement of the problem in
a new form.

According to Moses' solution of the question (in the dispute with whom
the entire significance of this theory lies), it appears that the
diversity of the species of living creatures proceeded according to the
will of God, and according to His almighty power; but according to the
theory of evolution, it appears that the difference between living
creatures arose by chance, and on account of varying conditions of
heredity and surroundings, through an endless period of time. The theory
of evolution, to speak in simple language, merely asserts, that by
chance, in an incalculably long period of time, out of any thing you
like, any thing else that you like may develop.

This is no answer to the problem. And the same problem is differently
expressed: instead of will, chance is offered, and the co-efficient of
the eternal is transposed from the power to the time. But this fresh
assertion strengthened Comte's assertion. And, moreover, according to
the ingenuous confession of the founder of Darwin's theory himself, his
idea was aroused in him by the law of Malthus; and he therefore
propounded the theory of the struggle of living creatures and people for
existence, as the fundamental law of every living thing. And lo! only
this was needed by the throng of idle people for their justification.

Two insecure theories, incapable of sustaining themselves on their feet,
upheld each other, and acquired the semblance of stability. Both
theories bore with them that idea which is precious to the crowd, that in
the existent evil of human societies, men are not to blame, and that the
existing order of things is that which should prevail; and the new theory
was adopted by the throng with entire faith and unheard-of enthusiasm.
And behold, on the strength of these two arbitrary and erroneous
hypotheses, accepted as dogmas of belief, the new scientific doctrine was

Spencer, for example, in one of his first works, expresses this doctrine
thus: -

"Societies and organisms," he says, "are alike in the following points: -

"1. In that, beginning as tiny aggregates, they imperceptibly grow in
mass, so that some of them attain to the size of ten thousand times their
original bulk.

"2. In that while they were, in the beginning, of such simple structure,
that they can be regarded as destitute of all structure, they acquire
during the period of their growth a constantly increasing complication of

"3. In that although in their early, undeveloped period, there exists
between them hardly any interdependence of parts, their parts gradually
acquire an interdependence, which eventually becomes so strong, that the
life and activity of each part becomes possible only on condition of the
life and activity of the remaining parts.

"4. In that life and the development of society are independent, and
more protracted than the life and development of any one of the units
constituting it, which are born, grow, act, reproduce themselves, and die
separately; while the political body formed from them, continues to live
generation after generation, developing in mass in perfection and
functional activity."

The points of difference between organisms and society go farther; and it
is proved that these differences are merely apparent, but that organisms
and societies are absolutely similar.

For the uninitiated man the question immediately presents itself: "What
are you talking about? Why is mankind an organism, or similar to an

You say that societies resemble organisms in these four features; but it
is nothing of the sort. You only take a few features of the organism,
and beneath them you range human communities. You bring forward four
features of resemblance, then you take four features of dissimilarity,
which are, however, only apparent (according to you); and you thence
conclude that human societies can be regarded as organisms. But surely,
this is an empty game of dialectics, and nothing more. On the same
foundation, under the features of an organism, you may range whatever you
please. I will take the fist thing that comes into my head. Let us
suppose it to be a forest, - the manner in which it sows itself in the
plain, and spreads abroad. 1. Beginning with a small aggregate, it
increases imperceptibly in mass, and so forth. Exactly the same thing
takes place in the fields, when they gradually seed themselves down, and
bring forth a forest. 2. In the beginning the structure is simple:
afterwards it increases in complication, and so forth. Exactly the same
thing happens with the forest, - in the first place, there were only bitch-
trees, then came brush-wood and hazel-bushes; at first all grow erect,
then they interlace their branches. 3. The interdependence of the parts
is so augmented, that the life of each part depends on the life and
activity of the remaining parts. It is precisely so with the forest, - the
hazel-bush warms the tree-boles (cut it down, and the other trees will
freeze), the hazel-bush protects from the wind, the seed-bearing trees
carry on reproduction, the tall and leafy trees afford shade, and the
life of one tree depends on the life of another. 4. The separate parts
may die, but the whole lives. Exactly the case with the forest. The
forest does not mourn one tree.

Having proved that, in accordance with this theory, you may regard the
forest as an organism, you fancy that you have proved to the disciples of
the organic doctrine the error of their definition. Nothing of the sort.
The definition which they give to the organism is so inaccurate and so
elastic that under this definition they may include what they will.
"Yes," they say; "and the forest may also be regarded as an organism. The
forest is mutual re-action of individuals, which do not annihilate each
other, - an aggregate; its parts may also enter into a more intimate
union, as the hive of bees constitutes itself an organism." Then you
will say, "If that is so, then the birds and the insects and the grass of
this forest, which re-act upon each other, and do not destroy each other,
may also be regarded as one organism, in company with the trees." And to
this also they will agree. Every collection of living individuals, which
re-act upon each other, and do not destroy each other, may be regarded as
organisms, according to their theory. You may affirm a connection and
interaction between whatever you choose, and, according to evolution, you
may affirm, that, out of whatever you please, any other thing that you
please may proceed, in a very long period of time.

And the most remarkable thing of all is, that this same identical
positive science recognizes the scientific method as the sign of true
knowledge, and has itself defined what it designates as the scientific

By the scientific method it means common-sense.

And common-sense convicts it at every step. As soon as the Popes felt
that nothing holy remained in them, they called themselves most holy.

As soon as science felt that no common-sense was left in her she called
herself sensible, that is to say, scientific science.


Division of labor is the law of all existing things, and, therefore, it
should be present in human societies. It is very possible that this is
so; but still the question remains, Of what nature is that division of
labor which I behold in my human society? is it that division of labor
which should exist? And if people regard a certain division of labor as
unreasonable and unjust, then no science whatever can convince men that
that should exist which they regard as unreasonable and unjust.

Division of labor is the condition of existence of organisms, and of
human societies; but what, in these human societies, is to be regarded as
an organic division of labor? And, to whatever extent science may have
investigated the division of labor in the cells of worms, all these
observations do not compel a man to acknowledge that division of labor to
be correct which his own sense and conscience do not recognize as
correct. No matter how convincing may be the proofs of the division of
labor of the cells in the organisms studied, man, if he has not parted
with his judgment, will say, nevertheless, that a man should not weave
calico all his life, and that this is not division of labor, but
persecution of the people. Spencer and others say that there is a whole
community of weavers, and that the profession of weaving is an organic
division of labor. There are weavers; so, of course, there is such a
division of labor. It would be well enough to speak thus if the colony
of weavers had arisen by the free will of its member's; but we know that
it is not thus formed of their initiative, but that we make it. Hence it
is necessary to find out whether we have made these weavers in accordance
with an organic law, or with some other.

Men live. They support themselves by agriculture, as is natural to all
men. One man has set up a blacksmith's forge, and repaired his plough;

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