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Thread: Apospasmata Thread

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    Default Mary Webb - Gone to earth

    It was only at midsummer that the windows were coloured by dawn and sunset; then they had a sanguinary aspect, staring into the delicate skyey dramas like blind, bloodshot eyes. Secretly, under the heavy rhododendron leaves and in the furtive sunlight beneath the yew-trees, gnats danced. Their faint motions made the garden stiller; their smallness made it oppressive; their momentary life made it infinitely old. Then Undern Pool was full of leaf shadows like multitudinous lolling tongues, and the smell of the mud tainted the air—half sickly, half sweet. The clipped bushes and the twisted chimneys made inky shadows like steeples on the grass, and great trees of roses, beautiful in desolation, dripped with red and white and elbowed the guelder roses and the elders set with white patens. Cherries fell in the orchard with the same rich monotony, the same fatality, as drops of blood. They lay under the fungus-riven trees till the hens ate them, pecking gingerly and enjoyably at their lustrous beauty as the world does at a poet's heart. In the kitchen-garden also the hens took their ease, banqueting sparely beneath the straggling black boughs of a red-currant grove. In the sandstone walls of this garden hornets built undisturbed, and the thyme and lavender borders had grown into forests and obliterated the path. The cattle drowsed in the meadows, birds in the heavy trees; the golden day-lilies drooped like the daughters of pleasure; the very principle of life seemed to slumber. It was then, when the scent of elder blossom, decaying fruit, mud and hot yew brooded there, that the place attained one of its most individual moods—narcotic, aphrodisiac.

    (...)

    She went on, regardless of direction. At last she found an old pasture where heavy farm-horses looked round at her over their polished flanks and a sad-eyed foal rose to greet her. There she found button mushrooms to her heart's content. Ancient hedges hung above the field and spoke to her in fragrant voices. The glory of the may was just giving place to the shell-tint of wild-roses. She reached up for some, and her hair fell down; she wisely put the remaining pins in the bag for the return journey. She was intensely happy, as a fish is when it plunges back into the water. For these things, and not the God-fearing comfort of the Mountain, nor the tarnished grandeur of Undern, were her life. She had so deep a kinship with the trees, so intuitive a sympathy with leaf and flower, that it seemed as if the blood in her veins was not slow-moving human blood, but volatile sap. She was of a race that will come in the far future, when we shall have outgrown our egoism—the brainless egoism of a little boy pulling off flies' wings. We shall attain philosophic detachment and emotional sympathy. We have even now far outgrown the age when a great genius like Shakespeare could be so clumsy in the interpretation of other than human life. We have left behind us the bloodshot centuries when killing was the only sport, and we have come to the slightly more reputable times when lovers of killing are conscious that a distinct effort is necessary in order to keep up 'the good old English sports.' Better things are in store for us. Even now, although the most expensively bound and the most plentiful books in the stationers' shops are those about killing and its thousand ramifications, nobody reads them. They are bought at Christmas for necessitous relations and little boys.

    Hazel, in the fields and woods, enjoyed it all so much that she walked in a mystical exaltation.

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    Default Samuel Beckett - Molloy

    And I said there was little likelihood of my being molested and that it was more likely I should molest them, if they saw me.
    Morning is the time to hide. They wake up, hale and hearty, their tongues hanging out for order, beauty and justice, baying for their due. Yes, from eight or nine till noon is the dangerous time. But towards noon things quiet down, the most implacable are sated, they go home, it might have been better but
    they’ve done a good job, there have been a few survivors, but they’ll
    give no more trouble., each man counts his rats. It may begin again
    in the early afternoon, after the banquet, the celebrations, the congratulations, the orations, but it’s nothing compared to the morning, mere fun. Coming up to four or five of course there is the night-shift, the watchmen, beginning to bestir themselves. But al- ready the day is over, the shadows lengthen, the walls multiply, you hug the walls, bowed down like a good boy, oozing with obsequiousness, having nothing to hide, hiding from mere terror, looking neither right nor left, hiding but not provocatively, ready to come out, to smile, to listen, to crawl, nauseating but not pestilent,
    less rat than toad. Then the true night, perilous too, but sweet to him who knows it, who can open to it like the flower to the sun, who himself is night, day and night. No there is not much to be said for the night either, but compared to the day there is much to be said for it, and notably compared to the morning there is everything to be said for it. For the night purge is in the hands of technicians, for the most part. They do nothing else, the bulk of the
    population have no part in it, preferring their warm beds, all things considered. Day is the time for lynching, for sleep is sacred, and especially the morning, between breakfast and lunch. My first care then, after a few miles in the desert dawn, was to look for a place
    to sleep, for sleep too is a kind of protection, strange as it may
    seem. For sleep, if it excites the lust to capture, seems to appease
    the lust to kill, there and then and bloodily, any hunter will tell you that. For the monster on the move, or on the watch, lurking in
    his lair, there is no mercy, whereas he taken unawares, in his sleep,
    may sometimes get the benefit of milder feelings, which deflect the
    barrel r’.,eathe the kris. For the hunter is weak at heart and senti- mental, overflowing with repressed treasures of gentleness and compassion. And it is thanks to this sweet sleep of terror or exhaustion
    that many a foul beast, and worthy of extermination, can live on
    till he dies in the peace and quiet of our zoological gardens, broken
    only by the innocent laughter, the knowiife laughter, of children and
    their elders, on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
    And I for my part have always preferred slavery to death, I mean being put to death.
    For death is a condition I have never been able to conceive to my
    satisfaction and which therefore cannot go down in the ledger of
    weal and woe. Whereas my notions on being put to death inspired
    me with confidence, rightly or wrongly, and I felt I was entitled to act on them, in certain emergencies. Oh they weren’t notions like yours, they were notions like mine, all spasm, sweat and trembling,
    without an atom of common sense or lucidity. But they were the
    best I had. Yes, the confusion of my ideas on the subject of death was such that I sometimes wondered, believe me or not, if it wasn’t a state of being even worse than life. So I found it natural not to rush into it and, when I forgot myself to the point of trying, to stop in time. It’s my only excuse.

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    Default Harriet Beecher Stowe - Uncle Tom's Cabin

    “My dear cousin, you may as well understand, once for all, that we masters are divided into two classes, oppressors and oppressed. We who are good-natured and hate severity make up our minds to a good deal of inconvenience. If we will keep a shambling, loose, untaught set in the community, for our convenience, why, we must take the consequence. Some rare cases I have seen, of persons, who, by a peculiar tact, can produce order and system without severity; but I’m not one of them,—and so I made up my mind, long ago, to let things go just as they do. I will not have the poor devils thrashed and cut to pieces, and they know it,—and, of course, they know the staff is in their own hands.”

    “But to have no time, no place, no order,—all going on in this shiftless way!”

    “My dear Vermont, you natives up by the North Pole set an extravagant value on time! What on earth is the use of time to a fellow who has twice as much of it as he knows what to do with? As to order and system, where there is nothing to be done but to lounge on the sofa and read, an hour sooner or later in breakfast or dinner isn’t of much account. Now, there’s Dinah gets you a capital dinner,—soup, ragout, roast fowl, dessert, ice-creams and all,—and she creates it all out of chaos and old night down there, in that kitchen. I think it really sublime, the way she manages. But, Heaven bless us! if we are to go down there, and view all the smoking and squatting about, and hurryscurryation of the preparatory process, we should never eat more! My good cousin, absolve yourself from that! It’s more than a Catholic penance, and does no more good. You’ll only lose your own temper, and utterly confound Dinah. Let her go her own way.”

    “But, Augustine, you don’t know how I found things.”

    “Don’t I? Don’t I know that the rolling-pin is under her bed, and the nutmeg-grater in her pocket with her tobacco,—that there are sixty-five different sugar-bowls, one in every hole in the house,—that she washes dishes with a dinner-napkin one day, and with a fragment of an old petticoat the next? But the upshot is, she gets up glorious dinners, makes superb coffee; and you must judge her as warriors and statesmen are judged, by her success.”

    “But the waste,—the expense!”

    “O, well! Lock everything you can, and keep the key. Give out by driblets, and never inquire for odds and ends,—it isn’t best.”

    “That troubles me, Augustine. I can’t help feeling as if these servants were not strictly honest. Are you sure they can be relied on?”

    Augustine laughed immoderately at the grave and anxious face with which Miss Ophelia propounded the question.

    “O, cousin, that’s too good,—honest!—as if that’s a thing to be expected! Honest!—why, of course, they arn’t. Why should they be? What upon earth is to make them so?”

    “Why don’t you instruct?”

    “Instruct! O, fiddlestick! What instructing do you think I should do? I look like it! As to Marie, she has spirit enough, to be sure, to kill off a whole plantation, if I’d let her manage; but she wouldn’t get the cheatery out of them.”

    “Are there no honest ones?”

    “Well, now and then one, whom Nature makes so impracticably simple, truthful and faithful, that the worst possible influence can’t destroy it. But, you see, from the mother’s breast the colored child feels and sees that there are none but underhand ways open to it. It can get along no other way with its parents, its mistress, its young master and missie play-fellows. Cunning and deception become necessary, inevitable habits. It isn’t fair to expect anything else of him. He ought not to be punished for it. As to honesty, the slave is kept in that dependent, semi-childish state, that there is no making him realize the rights of property, or feel that his master’s goods are not his own, if he can get them. For my part, I don’t see how they can be honest. Such a fellow as Tom, here, is,—is a moral miracle!”

    “And what becomes of their souls?” said Miss Ophelia.

    “That isn’t my affair, as I know of,” said St. Clare; “I am only dealing in facts of the present life. The fact is, that the whole race are pretty generally understood to be turned over to the devil, for our benefit, in this world, however it may turn out in another!”

    “This is perfectly horrible!” said Miss Ophelia; “you ought to be ashamed of yourselves!”

    “I don’t know as I am. We are in pretty good company, for all that,” said St. Clare, “as people in the broad road generally are. Look at the high and the low, all the world over, and it’s the same story,—the lower class used up, body, soul and spirit, for the good of the upper. It is so in England; it is so everywhere; and yet all Christendom stands aghast, with virtuous indignation, because we do the thing in a little different shape from what they do it.”

    “It isn’t so in Vermont.”

    “Ah, well, in New England, and in the free States, you have the better of us, I grant. But there’s the bell; so, Cousin, let us for a while lay aside our sectional prejudices, and come out to dinner.”

    [...]

    “It’s all nonsense to talk to me about slaves enjoying all this! To this day, I have no patience with the unutterable trash that some of your patronizing Northerners have made up, as in their zeal to apologize for our sins. We all know better. Tell me that any man living wants to work all his days, from day-dawn till dark, under the constant eye of a master, without the power of putting forth one irresponsible volition, on the same dreary, monotonous, unchanging toil, and all for two pairs of pantaloons and a pair of shoes a year, with enough food and shelter to keep him in working order! Any man who thinks that human beings can, as a general thing, be made about as comfortable that way as any other, I wish he might try it. I’d buy the dog, and work him, with a clear conscience!”

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    “I always have supposed,” said Miss Ophelia, “that you, all of you, approved of these things, and thought them right—according to Scripture.”

    “Humbug! We are not quite reduced to that yet. Alfred who is as determined a despot as ever walked, does not pretend to this kind of defence;—no, he stands, high and haughty, on that good old respectable ground, the right of the strongest; and he says, and I think quite sensibly, that the American planter is ‘only doing, in another form, what the English aristocracy and capitalists are doing by the lower classes;’ that is, I take it, appropriating them, body and bone, soul and spirit, to their use and convenience. He defends both,—and I think, at least, consistently. He says that there can be no high civilization without enslavement of the masses, either nominal or real. There must, he says, be a lower class, given up to physical toil and confined to an animal nature; and a higher one thereby acquires leisure and wealth for a more expanded intelligence and improvement, and becomes the directing soul of the lower. So he reasons, because, as I said, he is born an aristocrat;—so I don’t believe, because I was born a democrat.”

    “How in the world can the two things be compared?” said Miss Ophelia. “The English laborer is not sold, traded, parted from his family, whipped.”

    “He is as much at the will of his employer as if he were sold to him. The slave-owner can whip his refractory slave to death,—the capitalist can starve him to death. As to family security, it is hard to say which is the worst,—to have one’s children sold, or see them starve to death at home.”

    “But it’s no kind of apology for slavery, to prove that it isn’t worse than some other bad thing.”

    “I didn’t give it for one,—nay, I’ll say, besides, that ours is the more bold and palpable infringement of human rights; actually buying a man up, like a horse,—looking at his teeth, cracking his joints, and trying his paces and then paying down for him,—having speculators, breeders, traders, and brokers in human bodies and souls,—sets the thing before the eyes of the civilized world in a more tangible form, though the thing done be, after all, in its nature, the same; that is, appropriating one set of human beings to the use and improvement of another without any regard to their own.”

    “I never thought of the matter in this light,” said Miss Ophelia.

    “Well, I’ve travelled in England some, and I’ve looked over a good many documents as to the state of their lower classes; and I really think there is no denying Alfred, when he says that his slaves are better off than a large class of the population of England. You see, you must not infer, from what I have told you, that Alfred is what is called a hard master; for he isn’t. He is despotic, and unmerciful to insubordination; he would shoot a fellow down with as little remorse as he would shoot a buck, if he opposed him. But, in general, he takes a sort of pride in having his slaves comfortably fed and accommodated.

    “When I was with him, I insisted that he should do something for their instruction; and, to please me, he did get a chaplain, and used to have them catechized Sunday, though, I believe, in his heart, that he thought it would do about as much good to set a chaplain over his dogs and horses. And the fact is, that a mind stupefied and animalized by every bad influence from the hour of birth, spending the whole of every week-day in unreflecting toil, cannot be done much with by a few hours on Sunday. The teachers of Sunday-schools among the manufacturing population of England, and among plantation-hands in our country, could perhaps testify to the same result, there and here. Yet some striking exceptions there are among us, from the fact that the negro is naturally more impressible to religious sentiment than the white.”

    “Well,” said Miss Ophelia, “how came you to give up your plantation life?”

    “Well, we jogged on together some time, till Alfred saw plainly that I was no planter. He thought it absurd, after he had reformed, and altered, and improved everywhere, to suit my notions, that I still remained unsatisfied. The fact was, it was, after all, the THING that I hated—the using these men and women, the perpetuation of all this ignorance, brutality and vice,—just to make money for me!

    “Besides, I was always interfering in the details. Being myself one of the laziest of mortals, I had altogether too much fellow-feeling for the lazy; and when poor, shiftless dogs put stones at the bottom of their cotton-baskets to make them weigh heavier, or filled their sacks with dirt, with cotton at the top, it seemed so exactly like what I should do if I were they, I couldn’t and wouldn’t have them flogged for it. Well, of course, there was an end of plantation discipline; and Alf and I came to about the same point that I and my respected father did, years before. So he told me that I was a womanish sentimentalist, and would never do for business life; and advised me to take the bank-stock and the New Orleans family mansion, and go to writing poetry, and let him manage the plantation. So we parted, and I came here.”

    “But why didn’t you free your slaves?”

    “Well, I wasn’t up to that. To hold them as tools for money-making, I could not;—have them to help spend money, you know, didn’t look quite so ugly to me. Some of them were old house-servants, to whom I was much attached; and the younger ones were children to the old. All were well satisfied to be as they were.” He paused, and walked reflectively up and down the room.

    “There was,” said St. Clare, “a time in my life when I had plans and hopes of doing something in this world, more than to float and drift. I had vague, indistinct yearnings to be a sort of emancipator,—to free my native land from this spot and stain. All young men have had such fever-fits, I suppose, some time,—but then—”

    “Why didn’t you?” said Miss Ophelia;—“you ought not to put your hand to the plough, and look back.”

    “O, well, things didn’t go with me as I expected, and I got the despair of living that Solomon did. I suppose it was a necessary incident to wisdom in us both; but, some how or other, instead of being actor and regenerator in society, I became a piece of driftwood, and have been floating and eddying about, ever since. Alfred scolds me, every time we meet; and he has the better of me, I grant,—for he really does something; his life is a logical result of his opinions and mine is a contemptible non sequitur.”

    “My dear cousin, can you be satisfied with such a way of spending your probation?”

    “Satisfied! Was I not just telling you I despised it? But, then, to come back to this point,—we were on this liberation business. I don’t think my feelings about slavery are peculiar. I find many men who, in their hearts, think of it just as I do. The land groans under it; and, bad as it is for the slave, it is worse, if anything, for the master. It takes no spectacles to see that a great class of vicious, improvident, degraded people, among us, are an evil to us, as well as to themselves. The capitalist and aristocrat of England cannot feel that as we do, because they do not mingle with the class they degrade as we do. They are in our homes; they are the associates of our children, and they form their minds faster than we can; for they are a race that children always will cling to and assimilate with. If Eva, now, was not more angel than ordinary, she would be ruined. We might as well allow the small-pox to run among them, and think our children would not take it, as to let them be uninstructed and vicious, and think our children will not be affected by that. Yet our laws positively and utterly forbid any efficient general educational system, and they do it wisely, too; for, just begin and thoroughly educate one generation, and the whole thing would be blown sky high. If we did not give them liberty, they would take it.”

    “And what do you think will be the end of this?” said Miss Ophelia.

    “I don’t know. One thing is certain,—that there is a mustering among the masses, the world over; and there is a dies iræ coming on, sooner or later. The same thing is working in Europe, in England, and in this country. My mother used to tell me of a millennium that was coming, when Christ should reign, and all men should be free and happy. And she taught me, when I was a boy, to pray, ’thy kingdom come.’ Sometimes I think all this sighing, and groaning, and stirring among the dry bones foretells what she used to tell me was coming. But who may abide the day of His appearing?”

    “Augustine, sometimes I think you are not far from the kingdom,” said Miss Ophelia, laying down her knitting, and looking anxiously at her cousin.

    “Thank you for your good opinion, but it’s up and down with me,—up to heaven’s gate in theory, down in earth’s dust in practice. But there’s the teabell,—do let’s go,—and don’t say, now, I haven’t had one downright serious talk, for once in my life.”

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    The scene of the beating had been witnessed by the two brothers St. Clare, from another part of the garden.

    Augustine’s cheek flushed; but he only observed, with his usual sarcastic carelessness.

    “I suppose that’s what we may call republican education, Alfred?”

    “Henrique is a devil of a fellow, when his blood’s up,” said Alfred, carelessly.

    “I suppose you consider this an instructive practice for him,” said Augustine, drily.

    “I couldn’t help it, if I didn’t. Henrique is a regular little tempest;—his mother and I have given him up, long ago. But, then, that Dodo is a perfect sprite,—no amount of whipping can hurt him.”

    “And this by way of teaching Henrique the first verse of a republican’s catechism, ’All men are born free and equal!’”

    “Poh!” said Alfred; “one of Tom Jefferson’s pieces of French sentiment and humbug. It’s perfectly ridiculous to have that going the rounds among us, to this day.”

    “I think it is,” said St. Clare, significantly.

    “Because,” said Alfred, “we can see plainly enough that all men are not born free, nor born equal; they are born anything else. For my part, I think half this republican talk sheer humbug. It is the educated, the intelligent, the wealthy, the refined, who ought to have equal rights and not the canaille.”

    “If you can keep the canaille of that opinion,” said Augustine. “They took their turn once, in France.”

    “Of course, they must be kept down, consistently, steadily, as I should,” said Alfred, setting his foot hard down as if he were standing on somebody.

    “It makes a terrible slip when they get up,” said Augustine,—“in St. Domingo, for instance.”

    “Poh!” said Alfred, “we’ll take care of that, in this country. We must set our face against all this educating, elevating talk, that is getting about now; the lower class must not be educated.”

    “That is past praying for,” said Augustine; “educated they will be, and we have only to say how. Our system is educating them in barbarism and brutality. We are breaking all humanizing ties, and making them brute beasts; and, if they get the upper hand, such we shall find them.”

    “They shall never get the upper hand!” said Alfred.

    “That’s right,” said St. Clare; “put on the steam, fasten down the escape-valve, and sit on it, and see where you’ll land.”

    “Well,” said Alfred, “we will see. I’m not afraid to sit on the escape-valve, as long as the boilers are strong, and the machinery works well.”

    “The nobles in Louis XVI.‘s time thought just so; and Austria and Pius IX. think so now; and, some pleasant morning, you may all be caught up to meet each other in the air, when the boilers burst.”

    “Dies declarabit,” said Alfred, laughing.

    “I tell you,” said Augustine, “if there is anything that is revealed with the strength of a divine law in our times, it is that the masses are to rise, and the under class become the upper one.”

    “That’s one of your red republican humbugs, Augustine! Why didn’t you ever take to the stump;—you’d make a famous stump orator! Well, I hope I shall be dead before this millennium of your greasy masses comes on.”

    “Greasy or not greasy, they will govern you, when their time comes,” said Augustine; “and they will be just such rulers as you make them. The French noblesse chose to have the people ’sans culottes,’ and they had ’sans culotte’ governors to their hearts’ content. The people of Hayti—”

    “O, come, Augustine! as if we hadn’t had enough of that abominable, contemptible Hayti!* The Haytiens were not Anglo Saxons; if they had been there would have been another story. The Anglo Saxon is the dominant race of the world, and is to be so.”

    * In August 1791, as a consequence of the French Revolution,
    the black slaves and mulattoes on Haiti rose in revolt
    against the whites, and in the period of turmoil that
    followed enormous cruelties were practised by both sides.
    The “Emperor” Dessalines, come to power in 1804, massacred
    all the whites on the island. Haitian bloodshed became an
    argument to show the barbarous nature of the Negro, a
    doctrine Wendell Phillips sought to combat in his celebrated
    lecture on Toussaint L’Ouverture.

    “Well, there is a pretty fair infusion of Anglo Saxon blood among our slaves, now,” said Augustine. “There are plenty among them who have only enough of the African to give a sort of tropical warmth and fervor to our calculating firmness and foresight. If ever the San Domingo hour comes, Anglo Saxon blood will lead on the day. Sons of white fathers, with all our haughty feelings burning in their veins, will not always be bought and sold and traded. They will rise, and raise with them their mother’s race.”

    “Stuff!—nonsense!”

    “Well,” said Augustine, “there goes an old saying to this effect, ’As it was in the days of Noah so shall it be;—they ate, they drank, they planted, they builded, and knew not till the flood came and took them.’”

    “On the whole, Augustine, I think your talents might do for a circuit rider,” said Alfred, laughing. “Never you fear for us; possession is our nine points. We’ve got the power. This subject race,” said he, stamping firmly, “is down and shall stay down! We have energy enough to manage our own powder.”

    “Sons trained like your Henrique will be grand guardians of your powder-magazines,” said Augustine,—“so cool and self-possessed! The proverb says, ’They that cannot govern themselves cannot govern others.’”

    “There is a trouble there” said Alfred, thoughtfully; “there’s no doubt that our system is a difficult one to train children under. It gives too free scope to the passions, altogether, which, in our climate, are hot enough. I find trouble with Henrique. The boy is generous and warm-hearted, but a perfect fire-cracker when excited. I believe I shall send him North for his education, where obedience is more fashionable, and where he will associate more with equals, and less with dependents.”

    “Since training children is the staple work of the human race,” said Augustine, “I should think it something of a consideration that our system does not work well there.”

    “It does not for some things,” said Alfred; “for others, again, it does. It makes boys manly and courageous; and the very vices of an abject race tend to strengthen in them the opposite virtues. I think Henrique, now, has a keener sense of the beauty of truth, from seeing lying and deception the universal badge of slavery.”

    “A Christian-like view of the subject, certainly!” said Augustine.

    “It’s true, Christian-like or not; and is about as Christian-like as most other things in the world,” said Alfred.

    “That may be,” said St. Clare.

    “Well, there’s no use in talking, Augustine. I believe we’ve been round and round this old track five hundred times, more or less. What do you say to a game of backgammon?”

    The two brothers ran up the verandah steps, and were soon seated at a light bamboo stand, with the backgammon-board between them. As they were setting their men, Alfred said,

    “I tell you, Augustine, if I thought as you do, I should do something.”

    “I dare say you would,—you are one of the doing sort,—but what?”

    “Why, elevate your own servants, for a specimen,” said Alfred, with a half-scornful smile.

    “You might as well set Mount Ætna on them flat, and tell them to stand up under it, as tell me to elevate my servants under all the superincumbent mass of society upon them. One man can do nothing, against the whole action of a community. Education, to do anything, must be a state education; or there must be enough agreed in it to make a current.”

    “You take the first throw,” said Alfred; and the brothers were soon lost in the game, and heard no more till the scraping of horses’ feet was heard under the verandah.

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    Default Karl Marx / Friedrich Engels - Manifesto of the Communist Party

    In bourgeois society, therefore, the past dominates the present; in Communist society, the present
    dominates the past. In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the
    living person is dependent and has no individuality.
    And the abolition of this state of things is called by the bourgeois, abolition of individuality and
    freedom! And rightly so. The abolition of bourgeois individuality, bourgeois independence, and
    bourgeois freedom is undoubtedly aimed at.
    By freedom is meant, under the present bourgeois conditions of production, free trade, free
    selling and buying.
    But if selling and buying disappears, free selling and buying disappears also. This talk about free
    selling and buying, and all the other “brave words” of our bourgeois about freedom in general,
    have a meaning, if any, only in contrast with restricted selling and buying, with the fettered
    traders of the Middle Ages, but have no meaning when opposed to the Communistic abolition of
    buying and selling, of the bourgeois conditions of production, and of the bourgeoisie itself.
    You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society,
    private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the
    few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths. You reproach us,
    therefore, with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition for whose
    existence is the non-existence of any property for the immense majority of society.
    In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is
    just what we intend.
    From the moment when labour can no longer be converted into capital, money, or rent, into a
    social power capable of being monopolised, i.e., from the moment when individual property can
    no longer be transformed into bourgeois property, into capital, from that moment, you say,
    individuality vanishes.
    24 Chapter II: Proletarians and Communists
    You must, therefore, confess that by “individual” you mean no other person than the bourgeois,
    than the middle-class owner of property. This person must, indeed, be swept out of the way, and
    made impossible.
    Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does
    is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriations.
    It has been objected that upon the abolition of private property, all work will cease, and universal
    laziness will overtake us.
    According to this, bourgeois society ought long ago to have gone to the dogs through sheer
    idleness; for those of its members who work, acquire nothing, and those who acquire anything do
    not work. The whole of this objection is but another expression of the tautology: that there can no
    longer be any wage-labour when there is no longer any capital.
    All objections urged against the Communistic mode of producing and appropriating material
    products, have, in the same way, been urged against the Communistic mode of producing and
    appropriating intellectual products. Just as, to the bourgeois, the disappearance of class property
    is the disappearance of production itself, so the disappearance of class culture is to him identical
    with the disappearance of all culture.
    That culture, the loss of which he laments, is, for the enormous majority, a mere training to act as
    a machine.
    But don’t wrangle with us so long as you apply, to our intended abolition of bourgeois property,
    the standard of your bourgeois notions of freedom, culture, law, &c. Your very ideas are but the
    outgrowth of the conditions of your bourgeois production and bourgeois property, just as your
    jurisprudence is but the will of your class made into a law for all, a will whose essential character
    and direction are determined by the economical conditions of existence of your class.
    The selfish misconception that induces you to transform into eternal laws of nature and of reason,
    the social forms springing from your present mode of production and form of property –
    historical relations that rise and disappear in the progress of production – this misconception you
    share with every ruling class that has preceded you. What you see clearly in the case of ancient
    property, what you admit in the case of feudal property, you are of course forbidden to admit in
    the case of your own bourgeois form of property.
    Abolition [Aufhebung] of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of
    the Communists.
    On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private
    gain. In its completely developed form, this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this
    state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among the proletarians,
    and in public prostitution.
    The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both
    will vanish with the vanishing of capital.
    Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this crime
    we plead guilty.
    But, you say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by
    social.
    And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the social conditions under which
    you educate, by the intervention direct or indirect, of society, by means of schools, &c.? The
    Communists have not invented the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter
    the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class.
    The bourgeois clap-trap about the family and education, about the hallowed co-relation of parents
    and child, becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all the
    25 Chapter II: Proletarians and Communists
    family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their children transformed into simple
    articles of commerce and instruments of labour.
    But you Communists would introduce community of women, screams the bourgeoisie in chorus.
    The bourgeois sees his wife a mere instrument of production. He hears that the instruments of
    production are to be exploited in common, and, naturally, can come to no other conclusion that
    the lot of being common to all will likewise fall to the women.
    He has not even a suspicion that the real point aimed at is to do away with the status of women as
    mere instruments of production.
    For the rest, nothing is more ridiculous than the virtuous indignation of our bourgeois at the
    community of women which, they pretend, is to be openly and officially established by the
    Communists. The Communists have no need to introduce community of women; it has existed
    almost from time immemorial.
    Our bourgeois, not content with having wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal,
    not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other’s wives.
    Bourgeois marriage is, in reality, a system of wives in common and thus, at the most, what the
    Communists might possibly be reproached with is that they desire to introduce, in substitution for
    a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalised community of women. For the rest, it is selfevident that the abolition of the present system of production must bring with it the abolition of
    the community of women springing from that system, i.e., of prostitution both public and private.
    The Communists are further reproached with desiring to abolish countries and nationality.
    The working men have no country. We cannot take from them what they have not got. Since the
    proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must rise to be the leading class of the
    nation, must constitute itself the nation, it is so far, itself national, though not in the bourgeois
    sense of the word.
    National differences and antagonism between peoples are daily more and more vanishing, owing
    to the development of the bourgeoisie, to freedom of commerce, to the world market, to
    uniformity in the mode of production and in the conditions of life corresponding thereto.
    The supremacy of the proletariat will cause them to vanish still faster. United action, of the
    leading civilised countries at least, is one of the first conditions for the emancipation of the
    proletariat.
    In proportion as the exploitation of one individual by another will also be put an end to, the
    exploitation of one nation by another will also be put an end to. In proportion as the antagonism
    between classes within the nation vanishes, the hostility of one nation to another will come to an
    end.
    The charges against Communism made from a religious, a philosophical and, generally, from an
    ideological standpoint, are not deserving of serious examination.
    Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that man’s ideas, views, and conception, in one
    word, man’s consciousness, changes with every change in the conditions of his material
    existence, in his social relations and in his social life?
    What else does the history of ideas prove, than that intellectual production changes its character
    in proportion as material production is changed? The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the
    ideas of its ruling class.
    When people speak of the ideas that revolutionise society, they do but express that fact that
    within the old society the elements of a new one have been created, and that the dissolution of the
    old ideas keeps even pace with the dissolution of the old conditions of existence.

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