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Saturday, July 18, 1992

Dechristianization Movement

Dechristianization Movement and the New Calendar

John Hall Stewart, A Documentary Survey of the French Revolution (Macmillan, New York, 1963).


A vital force in impelling and sustaining both political and economic terror was the revolutionary ideology which reached its peak of development during the years 1793 and 1794. The manifestations of this ideology took two forms. The first, an emphasis on virtue, in the form of a love of the Patrie and subjugation of the individual to the general will expressed through a revolutionary religion, will be reserved for a later section of this chapter. The second, constituting the background of that religious movement, comprised a dechristianization movement and a manifestation of the revolutionary love of nature in the creation of a new calendar.

Under the stimulus of the movements for national unification in 1793 and 1794, Catholicism was faced with the competition of a worship of national patriotism. The negative aspect of this movement took the form of a brief but vigorous dechristianization crusade, the first incident in which was the passing of additional legislation against the non-juring priests. Following this, many churches were closed and converted into Temples of Reason. The positive side of the movement culminated in the somewhat ridiculous atheistic Festival of Reason on 10 November. In this are to be found the first definite efforts to substitute a religion of the Revolution for the Roman faith, the Patrie for God. While ultimately not averse to establishing a religion of their own, Robespiere and the Committee of Public Safety at first decried these excesses, fearing that they might alienate the more devout Catholics from the republican cause. In an attempt to offset the effects of the movement they obtained the passing of decree on religious liberty.

{p. 507} Meanwhile another phase of the dechristianization movement was developing. It took the form of the creation of a revolutionary calendar. This calendar was both religious and scientific in character. It was also decidedly revolutionary. By a happy coincidence, the creation of the Republic had taken place at the time of the autumnal equinox. This convinced many of the revolutionaries that they were at last achieving a "natural" order of things. During the first days of the Republic, provision had been made for dating public documents from "the first year of the French Republic," but no definite plan for a revised calendar had been proposed. The fact that the traditional divisions of the year were to be maintained is proved by a decree of 2 January, 1793, providing that the second year of the Republic was to begin on 1 January, 1793.

By the Autumn of 1793, however, the idea of a completely revised calendar had gained currency. It took form in October and November, and lasted until 1806.

With the establishment of the new calendar and the Constitution of the Terror, the first phase of the period of Jacobin domination of the Convention may be said to have ended. The second phase was to come in the opening months of 1794 in the form of factional terrorism, the struggles of the revolutionaries with the conservatives and the radicals of their own group. Before proceeding to the closing stages of the Terror, however, some attention should be given to developments which all too frequently are overlooked in this period, namely the cultural trends.

107. Decree concerning Religious Liberty

8 December, 1793 (18 Frimaire, Year II)

In a sense a strangely conciliatory document in an era of intolerance, this decree should be viewed in the light of its qualifications. For the most part it was not effective.

1. All violence and measures contrary to liberty of worship are forbidden.

2. In this connection, the surveillance of the constituted authorities and the activity of the public force shall be restricted to matters which Concern them in measures of police and public security.

3 The National Convention does not intend, by the preceding provisions to derogate in any manner from laws or precautions of public

{p. 508} safety ...

{p. 515} 112. Decree concerning Public Education

19 December, 1793 (29 Frimaire, Year II)

{p. 516} Section 1. Of Education in General

l. Education is free.

2. It shall be public.

3. Citizens who wish to enjoy the privilege of teaching shall be required:

1st, To declare to the municipality or section of the commune that they intend to open a school;

2nd, To designate the kind of science or art which they propose to teach;

3rd, To produce a certificate of patriotism and morality, signed by one-half of the members of the general council of the commune or section of the place of their residence, and by at least two members of the Watch Committee of the section, or the place of their domicile, or the place nearest thereto.

4. Citizens who devote themselves to education or teaching in any art or science whatsoever shall be designated under the name of schoolmasters or schoolmistresses.

Section 2. Of the Supervision of Education

1. The schoolmasters and schoolmistresses shall be under the immediate supervision of the municipality or section, the parents, tutors, or guardians, and under the surveillance of all citizens.

2. Any schoolmaster or schoolmistress who teaches in his or her school precepts or maxims contrary to republican laws and morality shall be denounced by the supervisors, and punished according to the gravity of the offence.

3. Any schoolmaster or schoolmistress who violates public morality shall be denounced by the supervisors, and arraigned before the correctional police or any other competent court, there to be judged according to law.

Section 3. Of Primary Education

1. The National Convention charges its Committee on Instruction with presenting it with elementary books of the knowledge absolutely necessary for the training of citizens, and declares that the first of such books are the Rights of Man, the Constitution, and the list of heroic or virtuous acts.

2. Citizens who limit themselves to teaching reading, writing, and elementary arithmetic shall be required to conform, in their instruction, to the elementary books adopted and published for such purpose by the national representatives.

3. They shall be paid by the Republic in proportion to the number of pupils who attend their schools, and in conformity with the schedule included in the following article. ...

6. Parents, tutors, or guardians shall be required to send their children or wards to the primary schools, and shall observe the following provisions.

7. They shall declare to their municipality or section:

1st, The first and last names of the children or wards whom they are required to send to the said schools;

2nd, The first and last names of the schoolmasters or schoolmistresses of their choice.

8. Children shall not be admitted to the schools before the age of fully six years; they shall be sent to them before the age of eight. Their Parents, tutors, or guardians may not withdraw them from the said

{p. 518} schools until they have attended them for at least three consecutive years.

9. Parents, tutors, or guardians who do not comply with the provisions of articles 6, 7, and 8 of the present section shall be denounced at the court of correctional police; and if the motives which hindered them from complying with the decree are not deemed valid, they shall be condemned, for the first offence, to a fine equal to one-fourth of their taxes. ...

{p. 519} VIII. Factional Terrorism; The Republic of Virtue;
the Fall of Robespierre

From the Autumn of 1793 the Committee of Public Safety had been subjected to criticism, both inside and outside the Convention, and it was not until the Spring of 1794 that it was able to liquidate the two factions which endangered its security. These two groups represented the radical and conservative elements among the Jacobin republicans. The former, nominally under Hebert, are generally known as the utra-revolutionaries; the latter, under Danton, are usually called the citra-revolutionaries.

The Ultras, influential in the Commune and the Cordeliers Club, were rabidly anti-Christian, and were inclined to favor a social program designed to aid the urban proletariat, and a political program based on repression of all suspects. The Citras, while perhaps more "irespectable" in personnel, were at the same time more open to suspicion. In general they represented the opinion of those who most hated the policies and practices of the Committee, and personal animosities entered largely into their attacks on that body. The Revolutionaries, dominated by Robespierre, were conditioned in their attitude towards thelr opponents partly by the fact that they looked forward to the establishment of a Rousseauan Republic of Virtue, an achievement which could not be realized until the Ultras and Citras were liquidated.

On 13 March, Robespierre obtained the passing of a decree against conspiracies and on the same date Hebert and several of his associates were placed under arrest. After a brief trial they were found guilty of plotting against the security of the State, and on 24 March they were sent to the guillotine. The fall oE Hebert not only terminated the activities of the Ultras; it sealed the doom of the Citras as well. Many of the Dantonist group were placed under arrest on charges of graft and counter-revolution. Finally Danton himself was arrested (along with Desmoulins and others), and on 5 April he was condemned and executed.

The fall of the Citras and Ultras closed the second phase of the Terror and ushered in its third and final stage. On 1 April the Committee of Public Safety

{p. 520} assured its dominant position by abolishing the provisional executive council and replacing the ministry with twelve commissions. Thus was inaugurated the period of ascendancy of the Committee of Public Safety - also the period of the ascendancy of Robespierre.

Robespierre was a typical reformer - sincere (if somewhat misguided), ascetic in personal habits, fanatical in zeal, suspicious of all opposition, and pursuing his single purpose with the frenzy of a crusader. The goal which Robespierre and his associates sought with such avidity was a sort of ideal Rousseauan republic, founded on virtue, based on the idea of the general will and serving as an instrument of what today might be called "social justice." Unfortunately for these zealots, their plan was to prove both inadequate and impracticable, and their efforts to bring it to fulfillment were to result in their downfall. These efforts may be considered from three points of view: economic and social policies, the revolutionary religion, and the continued application of the Terror. ...

{p. 526} 3. Accordingly, the Committee of General Security shall give exact orders to all the Watch Committees of the Republic, so that ... said committees shall transmit respectively the names and the conduct of all those imprisoned since 1 May, 1789. The same shall apply to those imprisoned henceforth.

115. Decree Establishing the Worship of the Supreme Being

7 May, 1794 (18 Floreal, Year II)

A1ready the cult of national patriotism was a reality, and the abortive Worship of Reason had afforded an example of how traditional Catholicism might be supplanted by somethlng more closely related to current events. In Robespierre's mind apparently the new religion was theoretical (in that it derived from Rousseau's belief that the state should assume responsibility for the souls of its people) and practical (in that Robespierre himself observed that the time seemed ripe for utilizing such a movement in furthering national unity in support of revolutionary republicanism). The document should be of interest, particularly to students of religion and of revolutions, as a type of development which is common in revolutionary movements.

1. The French people recognize the existence of the Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul.

2. They recognize that the worship worthy of the Supreme Being is the observance of the duties of man.

3. They place in the forefront of such duties detestation of bad faith and tyranny, punishment of tyrants and traitors, succoring of unfortunates, respect of weak persons, defence of the oppressed, doing to others all the good that one can, and being just towards everyone.

4. Festivals shall be instituted to remind man of the concept of the Divinity and of the dignity of his being.

{p. 527} 5. They shall take their names from the glorious events of our Revolution, or from the virtues most dear and most useful to man, or from the greatest benefits of nature.

6. The French Republic shall celebrate annually the festivals of 14 July, 1789, 10 August, 1792, 21 January, 1793, and 31 May, 1793.

7. On the days of decade it shall celebrate the following festivals:

To the Supreme Being and to nature; to the human race; to the French people; to the benefactors of humanity; to the martyrs of liberty to liberty and equality; to the Republic; to the liberty of the worid; to the love of the Patrie; to the hatred of tyrants and traitors; to truth; to justice; to modesty; to glory and immortality; to friendship; to frugality; to courage; to good faith; to heroism; to disinterestedness; to stoicism; to love; to conjugal love; to paternal love; to maternal tenderness; to filial piety; to infancy; to youth; to manhood; to old age; to misfortune; to agriculture; to industry; to our forefathers; to posterity; to happiness.

8. The Committees of Public Safety and Public Instruction are responsible for presenting a plan of organization for said festivals.

{end of quotes}

Simon Schama, Citizens: a Chronicle of the French Revolution
(Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1989).

{p. 858} ... the experiment remained darkened by the long shadow of the Revolution itself, so that factions inevitably crystallized, not around specific issues of government but plans for the overthrow of the state, hatched either by royalists or neo-Jacobins. With the separate organs of the constitution in paralyzing conflict with each other, violence continued to determine the political direction of the state far more than did elections.

But the violence was, after the year III, no longer coming from the streets and sections but from the uniformed army. If one had to look for one indisputable story of transformation in the French Revolution, it would be the creation of the juridical entity of the citizen. But no sooner had this hypothetically free person been invented than his liberties were circumscribed by the police power of the state. This was always done in the name of republican patriotism, but the constraints were no less oppressive for that. Just as Mirabeau—and the Robespierre of 1791—had feared, liberties were held hostage to the authority of the warrior state. Though this conclusion might be depressing, it should not really be all that surprising. The Revolution, after all, had begun as a response to a patriotism wounded by the humiliations of the Seven Years' War. It was Vergennes' decision to promote, at the same time, maritime imperialism and continental military power which generated the sense of fiscal panic that overcame the monarchy in its last days. A crucial element—perhaps, indeed, the crucial element—in the claim of the revolutionaries of 1789 was that they could better regenerate the patrie than could the appointees of the King. From the outset, then, the great continuing strand of militancy was patriotic. Militarized nationalism was not, in some accidental way, the unintended consequence of the French Revolution: it was its heart and soul. It was wholly logical that the multimillionaire inheritors of revolutionary power—the true "new class" of this period of French history—were not some bourgeoisie conquerante but real conquerors: the Napoleonic marshals, whose fortunes made even those of the surviving dynasts of the nobility look paltry by comparison.

For better or worse, the "modern men" who seemed poised to capture government under Louis XVI—engineers, noble industrialists, scientists, bureaucrats and generals—resumed their march to power once the irritations of revolutionary politics were brushed aside. "La tragedie, maintenant, c'est la politique," claimed Napoleon, who, after the coup d'etat that brought him to power in 1799, added his claim to that which had been made by so many optimistic governments before him, that "the Revolution is completed."

At other times, though, he was not so sure. For if he understood that one last achievement of the Revolution had been the creation of a military-technocratic state of immense power and emotional solidarity, he also real-

{p. 859} ized that its otber principal invention had been a political culture that perennially and directly challenged it. What occurred between 1789 and 1793 was an unprecedented explosion of politics—in speech, print, image and even music—that broke all the barriers that had traditionally circumscribed it. Initially, this had been the monarchy's own doing. For it was in the tens of thousands of little meetings convened to draft cahiers and elect deputies to the Estates-General that French men (and occasionally vvomen) found their voice. In so doing, they became part of a process that tied the satisfaction of their immediate wants into the process of redefining sovereignty.

That was both the opportunity and the problem. Suddenly, subjects were told they had become Citizens; an aggregate of subjects held in place by injustice and intimidation had become a Nation. From this new thing, this Nation of Citizens, justice, freedom and plenty could be not only expected but required. By the same token, should it not materialize, only those who had spurned their citizenship, or who were by their birth or unrepentant beliefs incapable of exercising it, could be held responsible. Before the promise of 1789 could be realized, then, it was necessary to root out Uncitizens.

Thus began the cycle of violence which ended in the smoking obelisk and the forest of guillotines. However much the historian, in a year of celebration, mav be tempted to see that violence as an unpleasant "aspect" of the Revolution which ought not to distract from its accomplishments, it would be jejune to do so. From the very beginning—from the summer of 1789—violence was the motor of the Revolution. The journalist Loustalot's knowing exploitation of the punitive murder and mutilation of Foulon and Bertier de Sauvigny conceded nothing in its calculated ferocity to the most extreme harangues of Marat and Hebert. "Il faut du sang pour cimenter la revolution" (there must be blood to cement revolution), said Mme Roland, who would herself perish by the logical application of her enthusiasm. While it would be grotesque to implicate the generation of 1789 in the kind of hideous atrocities perpetrated under the Terror, it would be equally naive not to recognize that the former made the latter possible. All the newspapers, the revolutionary festivals, the painted plates; the songs and street theater; the regiments of little boys waving their right arms in the air swearing patriotic oaths in piping voices—
all these features of what historians have come to designate the "political culture of the Revolution"—were the products of the same morbid preoccupation with the just massacre and the heroic death.

Historians are also much given to distinguishing between "verbal" violence and the real thing. The assumption seems to be that such men as Javogues and Marat, who were given to screaming at people, calling

{p. 860} for death, gloating at the spectacle of heads on pikes or processions of men with thelr hands tied behind their backs climbing the steps to the rasoir national were indulging only in brutal rhetoric. The screamers were not to be compared with such quiet bureaucrats of death as Fouquier-Tinnville who did their jobs with stolid, silent efficiency. But the history of "Ville-Affranchie," of the Vendee-Venge, or of the September massacres suggests in fact a direct connection between all that orchestrated or spontaneous screaming for blood and its copious shedding. It contributed greatly to the complete dehumanization of those who became victims. As "brigands" or the "Austrian whore" or "fanatics" they became nonentities in the Nation of Citizens and not only could but had to be eliminated if it was to survive. Humiliation and abuse, then, were not just Jacobin fun and games; they were the prologues to killing.

Why was the French Revolution like this? Why, from the beginning, was it powered by brutality? The question might seem to be circular since if, in fact, reform had been all that had been required, there would have been no Revolution in the first place. The question nonetheless remains important if we are ever to understand why successive generations of those who tried to stabilize its course—Mirabeau, Barnave, Danton—met with such failure. Was it just that French popular culture was already brutalized before the Revolution and responded to the spectacle of terrifying public punishments handed out by royal justice with its own forms of spontaneous sanguinary retribution? That all naive revolutionaries would do, would be to give the people the chance to exact such retribution and make it part of the regular conduct of politics? This may be part of the explanation, but even a cursory look beyond French borders, and especially over the Channel to Britain, makes it dimcult to see France as uniquely damaged, either by a more dangerous distance between rich and poor or indeed by higher rates of crime and popular violence, than places which avoided violent revolution.

Popular revolutionary violence was not some sort of boiling subterranean lava that finally forced its way onto the surface of French politics and then proceeded to scald all those who stepped in its way. Perhaps it would be better to think of the revolutionary elite as rash geologists, themselves gouging open great holes in the crust of polite discourse and then feeding the angry matter through the pipes of their rhetoric out into the open. Volcanoes and steam holes do not seem inappropriate metaphors here, because contemporaries were themselves constantly invoking them. Many of those who were to sponsor or become caught up in violent change were fascinated by seismic violence, by the great primordial eruptions which geologists now said were not part of a single Creation, but which happened

{p. 861} periodically in geological time. These events were, to borrow from Bourke, both sublime and terrible. And it was perhaps Romanticism, with its addiction to the Absolute and the Ideal; its fondness for the vertiginous and the macabre; its concept of political energy as, above all, electrical; its obsession with the heart; its preference for passion over reason, for virtue over peace, that supplied a crucial ingredient in the mentality of the revolutionary elite: its association of liberty with wildness. What began with Lafayette's infatuation with the hyena of the Gevaudan surely ended in the ceremonies of the pike-stuck heads.

There was another obsession which converged with this Romanticization of violence: the neoclassical fixation with the patriotic death. The annals of Rome (and occasionally the doomed battles of Athens and Sparta) were the mirrors into which revolutionaries constantly gazed in search of self-recognition. Their France would be Rome reborn, but purified by the benison of the feeling heart. It thus followed, surely, that for such a Nation to be born, many would necessarily die. And both the birth and death would be simultaneously beautiful.

{end of quote}

J. L. Talmon, The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy
(New York, Frederick A. Praeger, 1960).

{19} ... Rousseau occupies a position all his own. He starts from the same point as the others. He wants to investigate the nature of things, right, reason and justice in themselves, and the principle of legitimacy. Events and facts have no claim to be taken for granted, and to be considered natural, if they do not conform to one universally valid pattern, no matter whether such a pattern has ever existed. And yet, Rousseau makes no attempt to link up his ideal social order with the universal system and its all-embracing principle. A mighty fiat conjures up the social entity whatever its name, the State, the social contract, the Sovereign or the general will. The entity is autonomous, without as it were antecedents or an external point of reference. It is self-sufficient. It is the source and maker of all moral and social values, and yet it has an absolute significance and purpose. A vital shift of emphasis from cognition to the categorical imperative takes place. The sole, all-explaining and all-determining principle of the philosophes, from which all ideas may be deduced, is transformed into the Sovereign, who cannot by definition err or hurt any of its citizens. Man has no other standards than those laid down by the social contract. He receives his personality and all his ideas from it. The State takes the place of the absolute point of reference embodied in the universal principle. The implications of this shift of emphasis will be examined later.

Eighteenth-century thought, which prepared the ground for the French Revolution, should be considered on three different levels: first, criticism of the ancien regime, its abuses and absurdities; second, the positive ideas about a more rational and freer system of administration, such as, for instance, ideas on the separation of powers, the place of the judiciary, and a sound system of taxation; and lastly, the vague Messianic expectation attached to the idea of the natural order. It is due to this last aspect that social and political criticism in eighteenth-century writings always seems to point to things far beyond the concrete and immediate grievances and demands. So little is said directly about, for instance, feudal abuses or particular wrongs, and so much, however vaguely, about eternal principles, the first laws of society, and the cleavage of mankind into ruling and exploiting classes, into haves and have-nots ...

{p. 22} ... eighteenth-century philosophy, as already hinted, was intensely aware of the challenge to redefine the guarantees of social cohesion and morality. The philosophes were most anxious to show that not they, but their opponents, were the anarchists from the point of view of the natural order.

The philosophical line of attack on the Church was that apart from the historic untruth of the revealed religion, it also stood condemned as a sociological force. It introduced "imaginary" and heterogeneous criteria into the life of man and society. The commandments of the Church were incompatible with the requirements of society. The contradiction was harmful to both, and altogether demoralizing. One preached ascetic unworldliness, the other looked for social virtues and vigour. Man was being taught to work for the salvation of his soul, but his nature kept him earth-bound. Religion taught him one thing, science another. Religious ethics were quite ineffective, where they were not a source of evil. The promise of eternal reward and the threat of everlasting punishment were too remote to have any real influence on actual human conduct. This sanction at best engendered hypocrisy. Where the teachings of religion were successful, they resulted in human waste, like monasticism and asceticism, or in cruel intolerance and wars of religion. Moreover, the "imaginary" teachings and standards of the Church offered support and justification to tyrannical vested interests harmful to society as a whole. Rousseau, Morelly, Helvetius, Holbach, Diderot, Condorcet, not to mention of course Voltaire, were unanimous in their insistence on the homogeneous nature of morality. Some, the Voltairians and atheists, speak in terms of a deliberate plot against society, when attacking the claims of religious ethics. Others, like Rousseau, lay all the emphasis on matters of principle, above all the principle of social unity: you cannot be a citizen and Christian at the same time, for the loyalties clash.

"It is from the legislative body only," wrote Helvetius, "that we can expect a beneficent religion ... let sagacious ministers be clothed with temporal and spiritual powers, and all contradiction between religious and patriotic precepts will disappear ... the religious system shall coincide with the national prosperity ... religions, the habitual instruments of sacerdotal ambition, shall become the felicity of the public."

{p. 23} Holbach taught the same, and although Rousseau and Mably quarrelled bitterly with the two atheistic materialists, there was hardly a fundamental disagreement between them. For even to them the vital consideration was not really the existence of a Divine Being, but guarantees for social ethics. Rousseau, the master of Robespierre, and Mably, whose religious ideas made such a deep impression upon Saintlust, were nearer Hebrew Biblical and classical pagan conceptions than Christian ideas. Robespierre's Jewish idea of Providence hovering over the Revolution was a conclusion from the eighteenth-century view that the moral drama is played out under the judgment of Nature exclusively within the framework of social relations. No eighteenth-century thinker recognized any distinction between membership of a kingdom of God and citizenship of an earthly state, in the Christian sense. Whether, as the eighteenth ccntury as a whole, in the spirit of the Old Testament, believed, that reward and punishment for the deeds of one generation are distributed to posterity, or whether, as Rousseau and Mably thought, it was the individul who comes to judgment to be rewarded or punished as an individual soul, the only virtues or sins recognized were those of social significance.

The only difference between Helvetius and Holbach, on the one hand, and Rousseau and Mably, on the other, was that according to the materialists social legislation and arrangements alone were sufficient to ensure moral conduct, while Rousseau and Mably feared that man may elude the law. It was vital that man should always remember hat even if he eludes the magistrate, the account would still have to be settled elsewhere and before a higher tribunal. It was not less important that the unhappy and the injured should not despair of justice in society, even if it fails to come to their succour on earth. Rousseau, transcending the limits of mechanical materialist rationalism, harked back to antiquity. He felt compelled by the ancient sense of awe at the idea of a Divinity hovering over the city-state, and imbuing every act of its life with a solemn significance. He was fascinated by the pomp and thrill of collective patriotic worship in the national religious fetes, games and public displays, while Mably was convinced that no religion was possible without external forms, institutions and fixed rites. ...

{p. 24} The social harmonious pattern of Helvetius, Morelly and Holbach was a matter of cognition. It was there to be discerned and applied. In the case of Rousseau and Mably it was a categorical imperative, a matter of will. The materialist determinists felt confident that knowledge would be translated into action. Not so Rousseau and Mably, with their different attitude to human nature, and their deep sense of sin. Hence Rousseau felt driven to demand the death penalty for one who disbelieved in the civil religion, while Mably wished to ban all atheists and even deists, who claim that a religion of the heart was all that was wanted. Man had to be made to fear God, and made to experience the sense of fear constantly and vividly. ...

If the State or Society are, as in the case of Robespierre, regarded as existing under the personal Providence of God, like the pre-exilic Hebrew society, and if the relationship between God and man, unlike that presented by the Old Testament, does not entail a hierarchical organization and a system of laws and duties outside the framework of social institutions and laws, then the purely religious sense of awe and patriotic piety not only need not clash, but are likely to become fused into the Robespierre type of mysticism. There are no other priests than the magistrates, religious and patriotic ceremonial are the same, and to serve your country is to serve God.


The faith in a natural order and the immutable, universal principles deduced from it was the cause of the almost universal opposition in the second part of the eighteenth century to Montesquieu's central idea, in spite of the high esteem in which the father of the idea of republican virtue was held.

The lack of understanding for the pragmatic evolution of social forms was so great that Morelly took the Esprit des Lois to be a didactic tract designed to show the vagaries and follies of mankind, once they had deviated from and abandoned the state of nature.

Politics, according to Sieyes, was an art, and not a descriptive science like physics. Its object was to plan, to create reality and to do so in obedience to a permanent pattern. It was, Sieyes maintained, natural law that was old, and the errors of existing societies were new. Diderot did not think that a knowledge of history must precede that of morality. It seemed to him more useful and expedient to gain an idea of the just and unjust "before possessing a knowledge of the actions and the men to whom one ought to apply it".

The emphasis upon "ought" instead of "why" was Rousseau's answer to Montesquieu. In the much quoted passage in Emile Rousseau says that Montesquieu was the only man capable of creating the "great and useless" science of politics, or rather political right, but unfortunately contented himself with dealing with the positive laws of the established governments, "et rien au monde n'est plus different que ces deux etudes ". ...


It was of vital importance to Rousseau to save the ideal of liberty, while insisting on discipline. He was very proud and had a keen sense of the heroic. Rousseau's thinking is thus dominated by a highly fruitful but dangerous ambiguity. On the one hand, the individual is said to obey nothing but his own will; on the other, he is urged to conform to some objective criterion. The contradiction is resolved by the claim that this external criterion is his better, higher, or real self, man's inner voice, as Rousseau calls it. Hence, even if constrained to obey the external standard, man cannot complain of being coerced, for in fact he is merely being made to obey his own true self. He is thus still free; indeed freer than before. For freedom is the triumph of the spirit over natural, elemental instinct. It is the acceptance of moral obligation and the disciplining of irrational and selfish urges by reason and duty. The acceptance of the obligations laid down in the Social Contract marks the birth of man's personality and his initiation into freedom. Every exercise of the general will constitutes a reaffirmation of man's freedom. ...

{p. 41} Ultimately the general will is to Rousseau something like a mathematical truth or a Platonic idea. It has an objective existence of its own, whether perceived or not. It has nevertheless to be discovered by the human mind. But having discovered it, the human mind simply cannot honestly refuse to accept it. In this vay the general will is at the same time outside us and within us. Man is not invited to express his personal preferences. He is not asked for hi approval. He is asked whether the given proposal is or is not in conformity with the general will.

{end of quotes}

Nicholas Best, The Knights Templar (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London; no date specified).

{p. 2} On a March day in 1314, after seven years of torture and imprisonment, two old men were dragged in chains through the streets of Paris. Followed by a jeering crowd, they {p. 3} were hustled towards one of the islands in the Seine.

There they were stripped to their underwear before being tied to a stake set up close to the great cathedral of Notre Dame.

{p. 4} The Templars' Curse

The men were Geoffrey de Charney and Jacques de Molay. They were respectively the Preceptor of Normandy and the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Templar. They were about to burn to death for a host of alleged crimes—
including sacrilege, blasphemy, sodomy, Devil worship and the practice of Black Magic.

But there was still time to repent. Even as the firewood was heaped around them, the two men were given every chance to confess their sins. If they confessed, they wuld not have to die. They would be taken back to prison instead, back to a slower, more lingering punishment in solitary confinement, left to rot in the dark with their legs in irons and no prospect of ever being released. Other Templars had chosen solitary confinement instead of death. De Charney and de Molay could too, if they wished.

Both men refused. They would not admit to worshipping the Devil. They protested their innocence instead, renouncing confessions they had made earlier under torture, insisting that they had always been innocent in the eyes of God. They were prepared to die now, if that was His will, rather than admit to the charges against them.

A final attempt was made to dissuade them. Red hot coals were shovelled around them, slowly roasting them alive. There was still a chance to change their minds, still an opportunity to save themselves from the fire.

{p. 6} The men were adamant. The Grand Master asked that his hands should not be tied, so that he could die in prayer. He asked that his body should be turned on the stake, that he might see Notre Dame one last time before the end. His wishes were granted and the fire was lit. The two men observed it without flinching. They were calm and composed, perfectly prepared to meet their Maker.

Gradually the fire took hold. As the flames rose, the Grand Master raised his eyes to Heaven and uttered a curse. It was a loud curse, resonant, full of anguish; a curse heard not only by the spectators on the island but by all of France, a curse that echoed down the centuries and was remembered by Frenchmen everywhere, even as late as the French Revolution. It was a curse on the enemies of the Templars—on the Pope who had condemned the Order, on King Philip of France who had persecuted its members, on everyone who had ever opposed the Knights Templar, whoever they might be: 'Let evil overcome those who have condemned us!' the Grand Master swore. 'God will avenge our death. God will grant justice. Let our enemies suffer, as we have suffered, for what they have done!'

The crowd shrank from the Grand Master's words. Even as they did though,

{p. 7} the flames were gathering pace. The Grand Master's voice cracked and died, was heard no more. His body began to bubble and blacken, his flesh melting from his bones as it disintegrated in the fierce heat. The Preceptor's flesh melted too. Before long, nothing was left of either of them except a few charred bones and a heap of ash still too hot to touch. The two men were dead. With them, for all practical purposes, had died the 200-year-old Order of Knights Templar.

That night, after the fire had cooled and the crowd had dispersed, a group

{p. 8} of sympathizers stole across to the island and quietly retrieved the bones of the two martyrs for proper burial elsewhere.

Thirty-three days later the Pope died. A few months after that, King Philip too lay dead and France was plunged into anarchy and chaos for the next 100 years. The curse of the Grand laster had been amply fulfilled.

Who were the Templars?

What kind of people were these Templars? Were they the simple warrior monks they professed to be? Or were they the Devil worshippers of legend, the mysterious idolaters and sorcerers who roasted their own children, performed secret midnight rituals with animals and were guilty of every kind of sexual malpractice? Which of these versions is true?

Their origins were simple enough. They we fighting men, Frankish knights who had fought in the First Crusade and accompanied the victorious army to Jerusalem. There they had banded together in 1118 to form an order of warrior monks, pledged to protect the lives of pilgrims travelling to the holy places.

{p. 12} There were only nine Templars to begin with, led by Hugh de Payens and Geoffrey of St Omer. They were all devout, all committed to poverty, chastity and obedience. From the first, though, they differed from other religious orders in that they were specifically military in character, a body of fighting men wholly dedicated to the defence of the Christian faith. They differed also from military organizations in their poverty and humility, always wearing shabby clothes instead of the traditional finery expected of warrior knights.

At first, there was nowvhere to house this unique Order, but accommodation was soon found beside the Dome of the Rock and the western wall, two of Jerusalem's most sacred places. The accommodation was built on the supposed site of the Temple of Solomon. It was from this that the Knights Templar got their name.

They prospered at once, for there were no regular troops in the Holy Land. The crusader armies had gone home after Jerusalem was captured, leaving

{p. 16} only a motley garrison to defend the holy places against Moslem attack. The Knights Templar offered to fill this gap. Their offer was accepted with alacrity.

They needed money to help them, because defence of the Holy Land did not come cheap. There were castles to be built, strong-points, barracks for the troops. Accordingly, money was raised from every country in Christendom so much in fact that although Templars personally were never well off, their Order eventually became enormously rich, far richer than it needed to be for its original intended purpose.

Nevertheless, the Templars provided value for money—at first, anway. They fought hard throughout all the subsequent crusades and could always be counted on when they were needed. That their efforts met with only mixed success was hardly their fault, for the Christians in the Holy Land found

{p. 21} themselves against increasingly stlff opposition as time wore on—not least from the Moslem forces led by Saladin, ruler of Egypt. After many ears of struggle, he finally captured Jerusalem in 1187. The Templars were ousted from their original home and forced to decamp. They remained in the Holy Land until 1303, but they were never again to set foot in Jerusalem, the city they had sworn to defend vvith their lives.

By then however, the Order had changed considerably in character. What had begun as a simple body of fighting men was now far more complex and sinister. After many years of handling the finances needed for the crusades (the cash was kept safe in Templar castles), they had become bankers and money-men as well as soldiers—the most sophisticated bankers in all of Europe. They had become property owners, owning 9,000 manors in many different lands. They had become religious dignitaries, enjoying special immunities granted to them by the Pope. Yet they remained still a law unto themselves, a mysterious society swearing allegiance always to each other, rather than to any king or country: a society with no apparent reason for existence after its expulsion from the Holy Land.

{p. 25} The Persecution of the Templars

This was obviously a recipe for disaster. A rich and secret societ; powerful, arrogant, forbidden to women, yet meeting only behind closed doors and accountable to no one but itself. It was inevitable that jealousies should arise about the Templars, that rumours should begin to spread. And spread they eventually did, all across Europe.

How far the rumours were true, and how far they were merely a trumped-up excuse to seize the Templars' vast wealth, is impossible to say at this distance. What is certain though is that the rumours were lurid in the extreme, varying from heresy and witchcraft to kissing the anus of a black cat and sleeping with the Devil in the guise of a beautiful woman. There as talk of mysterious initiation ceremonies in which men kissed each other on the lips, the navel and the buttocks. It was said also that Templars would spit on the Cross and worship the Devil in a darkened room; that the ashes of their dead were given to new Templars

{p. 27} to eat; that virgins were made pregnant and their new-born babies roasted over a fire, the fat being used to anoint the Templars' satanic idols. In a superstitious age, these were very serious accusations indeed.

Perhaps the most serious accusation of all was that the Templars had deliberately abandoned the Holy Land to the Moslems, surrendering to their enemies in a pact with the Devil designed to preserve the Templars' own power and wealth. It was certainly true that they had formed alliances with Moslems in the interests of peace and religious tolerance. They were also suspected of worshipping the devil Baphomet in various forms (usually a jewelled skull, a wooden phallus or an androgynous winged idol, part-womanl, part-goat).

{p. 32} Baphomet was held to be a corruption of the name Mohammed, and Mohammed was considered by Christians to be the Beast of Revelation, distinguished by his mark and the number 666.

But what really undid the Templars was their money They had become seriously rich by the beginning of the 14th century: so rich in England, for example, that Templars there were able to make a substantial contribution towards Edward I's wars against France. This naturally did not go down well with the French, in particular King Philip of France. He was an ambitious monarch, devious and scheming, but desperately short of finance of his own and, in a

{p. 33} turbulent reign, had already debased the coinage several times and expelled the Jews from France, confiscating all their property. By 1307, he was again in urgent need of cash. He looked around for a fresh source of finance and his eye fell on the Templars.

Their spies had warned them that trouble was coming, but the extent of it came as a shock. They were arrested on the morning of Friday 13 October—all 5,000, every Templar in France. The arrests were co-ordinated so that only a handfill escaped, perhaps 20 in all. The rest were rounded up and thrown

{p. 34} into prison, even the Grand Master and his officials. The Templars were supposed to enjoy immunity from arrest, but their immunity did not help them now. The Pope owed his position to King Philip and did nothing to save them. Neither did anyone else. Even by the standards of the day, it was an infamous act of betrayal.

The ordinary people of France were deeply disturbed by it. These were holy men, not common criminals. Whatever they had done and not everyone believed they were in league with the Devil—the Templars should not have been treated thus. It was not the way things were supposed to happen.

Philip's fellow monarchs wvere not impressed either. He wrote to all his neighbouring kings, explaining his action and inviting them to do the same to their own Templars. Few followed his lead; they did not share his view of the Templars' guilt. It was not until the Pope issued a Bull commanding them to abolish the Order that they complied, and then only with considerable reservations.

Philip however remained adamant. Under French law, the Templars were guilty until proved innocent and the charges against them were vile in the extreme. Sodomy, obscenity, sacrilege: the king saw to it that the allegations received widespread publicity after the Templars' arrest, the full enormity of their excesses exposed for the first time. He obtained confessions too, from the Grand Master among others, confessions under oath to the vilest depravities imaginable. The Grand Master personally admitted to spitting on the Cross, and other diabolical offences. He begged forgiveness, publicly urging his fellow Templars to follow suit while they still had the chanlce.

The Grand Master had bell tortuled, of course, as had the others. In Paris

{p. 35} alone, 36 Templars died of the effects within a few days of their arrest. Some were stared and beaten, their feet burned until only the bones remained. Others were stretched on the rack until their arms and legs popped out of their sockets, or subjected to the strappado dropped on a rope with their arms tied behind their back, until their shoulders broke under the strain. Few ultimately refused to confess.

Some Templars did refuse however, a brave and resolute minority. Fifty-four of them were burned at the stake one afternoon, in a field outside Paris.

{p. 36} Others disappeared into dungeons, never to be seell again. It was seven years before the last of them had been tried and disposed of. The process was supposed to come to a climax with the public confession of the Grand Master and the Preceptor of Normandy at Notre Dame, In the event though, both men used the occasion to retract their confessions, reaffirming their innocence in front of a crowd of thousands. They were put to death at once, and the Order of the Knights Templar was heard no more.

The Legacy of the Templars

But the Templars were not forgotten. Their properties were confiscated, their Order expunged and those who were not killed or imprisoned scattered far and wide. Yet the idea they represented was too powerful to be extinguished

{p. 39} altogether. Their order was resurrected in the 18th century and given a new lease of life as part of the clandestine brotherhood of Freemasonry. Knights Templar have continued as Freemasons ever since.

They were almost certainly innocent of the charges levelled against them by King Philip, but it was the sheer enormity of the offences that has lingered in the public mind, rather than the Templars' denials. Guilty or not, the Templars are always remembered for what was alleged about them, rather than for anything they actually did.

Dante, their contemporary, was in no doubt as to where the guilt should lie for the Templars' demise. In his Divine Comedy, he took the Pope and King Philip and put them firmly where they belonged for what they had done—in Hell.

The Templars had revenge, of a sort. In 1793, almost five centuries after the Grand Master's curse, Louis XVI was sent to the guillotine in Paris. His death effectively marked the end of the French monarchy, a long line of despots of whom King Philip had been only one. After Louis had been executed, it is said that a man came forward from the crowd and dabbled his hands in the blood. The man was a Freemason. He was taking revenge for what had happened to his Templar forebears so many centuries before. Justice, at long last, had been done.

{end quotes}

Guy A. Aldred, Bakunin
(The Strickland Press, Glasgow, 1940; also Bakunin Press, London).

{p. 52} Appendices


{p. 53} Bakunin wanted to be on good terms with Marx, for the sake of building up the International. He desired to devote himself henceforward exclusively to the Socialist movement. This was difficult because of Marx's injustice. Bakunin tells the story thus:-

"In the year 1848, Marx and I had a difference of opinion, and I must say that he was far more in the right of it than I. ... But there was one point in which I was right and he was wrong. As a Slav, I wanted the liberation of the Slav race from the German yoke. ...

"My ideals and aspirations could not fail to be displeasing to Marx ... he thinks that the Germans have a mission to civilise the Slavs, this meaning to Germanise them whether by kindness or by force. ..."

{p. 55} Ruhle points out that Bakunin endeavoured honestly to be on good terms with Marx and to avoid friction. He adds that Bakunin loved the peasants and detested intellectualism and abstract systems, with their dogmatism and intolerance. He hated the modern State, industrialism, and centralisation. He had the most intense dislike for Judaism, which he considered loquacious, intriguing, and exploitative. ... With justice, Bakunin says of Marx and his political circle:-

"Marx loved his own person much more than he loved his friends and apostles, and no friendship could hold water against the slightest wound to his vanity. ... in the circle of Marx's intimates there is very little brotherly frankness, but a great deal of machination and diplomacy. ... Marx is the chief distributor of honours, but is also incredibly perfidious and malicious ...

"As soon as he has ordered a persecution, there is no limit to the baseness and infamy of the method. Himself a Jew, he had round him in London and in France, and above all in Germany, a number of petty, more or less able, intriguing, mobile, speculative Jews (the sort of Jews you can find all over the place), commercial employees, bank clerks, men of letters, politicians, the correspondents of newspapers of the most varied shades of opinions, in a word, literary go-betweens, one foot in the bank, the other in the socialist movement, while their rump is in German periodic literature ... These Jewish men of letters are adepts in the art of cowardly, odious and perfidious insinuations. They seldom make open accusation, but they insinuate, saying they "have heard - it is said - it may not be true, but', and then they hurl the most abominable calumnies in your face.

{end of quotes}

Michael Bakunin, Statism and Anarchy (1873),
in Sam Dolgoff,Bakunin On Anarchy
(Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1972).

{p. 329} The fiction of a pseudorepresentative government serves to conceal the domination of the masses by a handful of privileged elite ...

The differences between revolutionary dictatorship and statism are superficial. Fundamentally they both represent the same principle of minority rule over the majority in the name of the alleged "stupidity" of the latter and the alleged "intelligence" of the former,

{p. 330} Let us ask, if the proletariat is to be the ruling class, over whom is it to rule? In short, there will remain another proletariat which will be subdued to this new rule, to this new state. For instance, the peasant "rabble" who, as it is known, does not enjoy the sympathy of the Marxists who consider it to represent a lower level of culture, will probably be ruled by the factory proletariat of the cities. Or, if this problem is to be approached nationalistically, the Slavs will be placed in the same subordinate relationship to the victorious German proletariat in which the latter now stands to the German bourgeoisie

If there is a State, there must be domination of one class bv another and, as a result, slavery; the State without slavery is unthinkable—and this is why we are the enemies of the State.

What does it mean that the proletariat will be elevated to a ruling class? Is it possible for the whole proletariat to stand at the head of the government? There are nearly forty million Germans. Can all forty million be members of the govemment? In such a case, there will be no government, no state, but if there is to be a state there will be those who are ruled and those who are slaves.

The Marxist theory solves this dilemma very simply. By the people's rule, they mean the rule of a small number of representatives elected by the people. The general, and every man's, right to elect the representatives of the people and the rulers of the State is the latest word of the Marxists, as well as of the democrats. This is a lie, behind which lurks the despotism of the ruling minority, a lie all the more dangerous in that it appears to express the so-called will of the people.

Ultimately, from whatever point of view we look at this question we come alwavs to the same sad conclusion, the rule of the great masses of the people by a privileged minority. The

{p. 331} Marxists say that this minority will consist of workers. Yes possibly of former workers, who, as soon as they become the rulers of the representatives of the people, will cease to be workers and will look down at the plain working masses from the governing heights of the State; they will no longer represent the people, but only themselves and their claims to rulership over the people. Those who doubt this know very little about human nature.

These elected representatives, say the Marxists, will be dedicated and learned socialists. The expressions "learned socialist," "scientific socialism," etc., which continuously appear in the speeches and writings of the followers of Lassalle and Marx, prove that the pseudo-People's State will be nothing but a despotic control of the populace by a new and not at all numerous aristocracy of real and pseudoscientists. The "uneducated" people will be totally relieved of the cares of administration, and will be treated as a regimented herd. A beautiful liberation, indeed!

The Marxists are aware of this contradiction and realize that a government of scientists will be a real dictatorship regard!ess of its democratic form. They console themselves with the idea that this rule will be temporary. They say that the only care and objective will be to educate and elevate the people economically and politically to such a degree that such a government will soon become unnecessary, and the State, after losing its political or coercive character, will automatically develop into a completely free organization of economic interests and communes.

There is a flagrant contradiction in this theory. If their state would be really of the people, why eliminate it? And if the State is needed to emancipate the workers, then the workers are not yet free, so why call it a People's State? By our polemic against them we have brought them to the realization that freedom or anarchism, which means a free organization of the working masses from the hottom up, is the final objective of social development, and that every state, not excepting their People's State, is a yoke, on the one hand giving rise to despotism and on the other to slavery. Thev say that such a yoke-dictatorship is a transitional step towards achieving full freedom for the people: anarchism or

{p. 332} freedom is the aim, while state and dictatorship is the means, and so, in order to free the masses of the people, they first have to be enslaved

Upon this contradiction our polemic has come to a halt. They insist that only dictatorship (of course their own) can create freedom for the people. We reply that all dictatorship has no objective other than self-perpetuation, and that slavery is all it can generate and instill in the people who suffer it. Freedom can be created only by freedom, by a total rebellion of the people, and by a voluntary organization of the people from the bottom up.

The social theory of the antistate socialists or anarchists leads them directly and inevitably towards a break with all forms of the State, with all varieties of bourgeois politics, and leaves no choice except a social revolution. The opposite theory, state communism and the authority of the scientists, attracts and confuses its followers and, under the pretext of political tactics, makes continuous deals with the governments and various bourgeois political parties, and is directly pushed towards reaction.

The cardinal point of this program is that the State alone is to liberate the (pseudo-) proletariat. To achieve this, the State must agree to liberate the proletariat from the oppression of bourgeois capitalism. How is it possible to impart such a will to the State? The proletariat must take possession of the State by a revolution—an heroic undertaking. But once the proletariat seizes the State, it must move at once to abolish immediately this eternal prison of the people. But according to Mr. Marx, the people not only should not abolish the State, but, on the contrary, they must strengthen and enlarge it, and turn it over to the full disposition of their benefactors, guardians, and teachers—the leaders of the Communist party, meaning Mr. Marx and his friends—who will then liberate them in their own way. They will concentrate all administrative power in their own strong hands, because the ignorant people are in need of a strong guardianship; and they will create a central state bank, which will also control all the commerce, industry, agriculture, and even science. The mass of the people will be divided into two armies, the agricultural and the industrial, under the direct command of

{p. 333} the state engineers, who will constitute the new privileged political-scientific class.

{end of quotes}

Arthur P. Mandel, Michael Bakunin: Roots of Apocalypse,
Praeger, New York 1981.

{p. 330} He must refute the charges of Hess and the rest of the "German Jews" who, he said, were all—except for Marx—out to get him. While he was "in no way either the enemy or the detractor of Jews," he told the editors of Le Reveil, to which he sent his response to Hess's criticism, he was convinced by "ethnographic history" that Jews were "par excellence exploiters of other peoples' labor" and, therefore, "completely opposed to the interests as well as the instincts of the proletariat." "I know very well," he went on, "that in frankly expressing my personal thoughts about the Jews I expose myself to enormous dangers. Many people share [these views], but very few dare to express them publicly, because the Jewish sect, far more formidable than Catholic Jesuits and the Protestants, constitute a real force in Europe today. They reign despotically in commerce and in the banks and have overrun three-quarters of the German press and a very significant part of the press of other countries. Too bad for anyone careless enough to displease them!" {endnote 86: Bakounine, Oeuvres, vol. V, pp. 243-4}


Walter Kolarz, How Russia is Ruled
(London, the Batchworth Press, 1953).

{p. 49} 'Failure to Report'

Soviet penal law is quite generally based on the principle that all citizens must give positive support to the regime even against their own children, parents, husband or wife. This is the background to yet another state crime which may be translated as 'failure to report.' Persons knowing about a counter-revolutionary crime and not reporting it to the authorities are liable to imprisonment. This duty of denouncing, insisted on in the penal code, applies also to oral counter-revolutionary propaganda, if committed in the family circle. To mention an extreme case Soviet penal law makes it an obligation for a son to denounce his father if he tells a joke at home directed against the government.

The collective responsibility of the family is carried particularly far in the case of members of the armed forces guilty of espionage and desertion. The adult members of the family of a deserter are punished with exile for five years according to an amendment to the penal code passed in 1934. Family members of traitors and deserters from the Soviet armed forces may also be treated as accomplices, in which case they may be sent

{p. 50} to camps for periods up to ten years. These rigorous provisions of the penal code against the families of soldiers came into force long before the war, but they have acquired particular significance in recent years. The fact that Soviet occupation troops are kept in various parts of Europe has led to an increase in the number of desertions, which would probably be more frequent if the Soviet regime had not established the principle of collective family responsibility.

The number of people which the joint efforts of the MVD and the Soviet courts have transformed into forced labourers is difficult to estimate. As long as the Soviet Government itself refuses to supply any statistics about the extent of forced labour in Communist Russia the world has to rely on rough and inaccurate estimates made by former camp inmates and refugees from the USSR. These refugees have asserted that the number of prisoners in Soviet Russia must be put as high as ten, fifteen or even twenty millions. However, figures are not so important as the moral principle. Even if we assumed that there are not more than four or five million convicts in the Soviet camps the case against forced labour would be no less strong.

The Economic Importance of Forced Labour

Whatever the true figure of the Soviet labour camp inmates might be it is a fact that forced labour has become an essential means of implementing the Five-Year Plans and Russia's industrial revolution. The Five Year Plans are conceived in such a way that they can only be carried out with the help of forced labour. One of the

{p. 51} chief aims of Soviet long-term economic planning is the development of those vast and fabulously rich areas of the Soviet Far North, which are entirely or largely unsuitable for human habitation. In these areas there are rich coal seams, oil deposits and gold mines. Their sub-soil also contains copper, nickel and other non-ferrous metals. Their wealth in timber and water power is almost inexhaustible.

All these economic assets of the Soviet Union could not be cheaply and properly exploited if the Soviet State had to rely on freely volunteered labour. The Soviet State would have to pay not only full wage rates but also special living and family allowances, if freely-hired labourers were used for the building of roads and railways or for the development of mining in the Far North. This would result in too great a drain on the state budget. It is thus more expedient to staff the new enterprises in the Arctic regions of Siberia and Northern Europe with convicts and exiles.

This explains why most of the hundred and twenty-odd corrective labour camps known to exist in Russia at the present time are situated in territories where only few people would go of their own free will, and even then only if offered very high wages. Forced labour has, however, also been used outside the Far North and the Far East for all construction works where freely-hired labour would have proved unremunerative. Thus two big Soviet canals, which have been officially described as the 'largest in the world,' have been built almost exclusively by forced labour. The first was opened in 1933 and connected the Baltic with the White Sea. The second was completed in 1937 and linked Moscow with the

{p. 52} Volga River. Both canals were constructed under the direction of Henrikh Yagoda, Russia's supreme police chief of the period. In the case of the Baltic-White Sea Canal not only the rank and file of the canal workers were convicts but also the engineers and technicians in charge of the planning.

Other big accomplishments of forced labour include a railway line over nine hundred miles long built during the war in an area of Northern Russia where prisoners constitute the largest section of the local population. Prisoners were also responsible for the development of an entire goldmining centre in the northern part of the Soviet Far East. Prison labour was likewise used to build several big metallurgical plants in the Urals and prisoners have even staffed cotton farms in Central Asia.

These are only very few examples picked at random. It would take a long time to enumerate all the branches of Soviet economic life in which forced labour has played an important part. Moreover, our knowledge of the Soviet forced labour system is bound to be incomplete. If there is one big iron curtain surrounding the whole of the Soviet Union there is another double iron curtain protecting the secret of the corrective labour camps.


IN 1933 a conference of Soviet linguistic scholars was held in Moscow and discussed the question whether the word 'God' could not be excluded altogether from the vocabulary of one of the languages of the USSR. After a long discussion the majority of the conference delegates decided that the word 'God' was needed for conducting anti-religious propaganda and therefore had to be retained in Soviet dictionaries.

'Freedom of Religious Worship'

This little episode is characteristic of the irreconciliable conflict between Communism and religion. It must be said in favour of the Communists that they have not made any secret of this fundamental contradiction. The phrase of Karl Marx, 'Religion is opium to the people,' is one of the corner-stones of the Communist creed and so is Stalin's statement 'All religion is contrary to science.'

But let us leave theory and look at the factual situation of the Church in the first Communist state of the world—in Soviet Russia. We must distinguish between two periods in the development of the relations between Church and State in the Soviet Union, a period of per-

{p. 81} secution and a period of relative tolerance. An account of atrocities which the Communist regime is said to have committed against the churches in the years of active anti-religious terror would fill many volumes. Not all the reports which the Press of the world has published on that subject are necessarily correct, but many of them are true and have been confirmed by the Soviet Government.

Seen in retrospect such acts as executions and deportations of priests are important only for one reason. They have strengthened the determination of the believers to remain faithful to the creed in which they have been born.

No Russian Communist is likely to deny that the first round in the battle of Communism versus Religion ended with a clear victory for the latter. The full extent of the victory can only be measured by the effort which the regime had made in its anti-religious campaign. Vast amounts of energy and money had been spent in order to destroy the belief in God throughout that sixth of the globe which had become the Soviet Union. A large part of the state machinery was engaged in the fight against religion, and the regime was extremely ingenious in devising methods to render the exercise of religious cults impossible without ever resorting to a formal ban.

The Communist State did not abolish priesthood, but for a long time it did not allow priests to live in large towns. It did not forbid religious services as such but it abolished Sunday as a day of rest, temporarily at least. {footnote 1}

{footnote 1: Sunday ceased to be a day of rest in 1929 when the Soviet Government introduced the 'uninterrupted working week.' This meant that some people had to rest on Monday, others on Tuesday others on Wednesday and so on. This staggering of the rest day led to utter confusion and disorganisation of family life. Within a short time it became so unpopular that it had to be abandoned. The {footnote continued on p. 82}

{p. 82} Theoretically there has not been any discrimination against believers, but, in practice, church-goers were not, and still are not, eligible for more important posts, including those of officials, teachers and university professors.

{politically incorrect people are similarly affected in the West today}

The Soviet Constitution itself does not try to conceal the precarious situation in which all religious bodies of the USSR find themselves. Religion is mentioned only once in the Soviet Constitution in its Article 124 which recognises 'freedom of religious worship and freedom of anti-religious propaganda for all citizens.' The article seems to have been drafted with deliberate care, it does not guarantee 'freedom of religion' but only 'freedom of religious worship.' The Soviet authorities have given the most narrow and most literal interpretation to this part of the Constitution. They have not admitted any religious activity which is not directly connected with religious service.

This factual limitation of religious freedom in the Soviet Union has been elaborated by a Soviet Law of April 8, 1929, which is still in force to-day. The law says that religious bodies must not organise special meetings for children, youth and women, nor must they hold any other meetings outside the religious services, nor open libraries or reading rooms, nor provide medical or material aid for their members. The Churches must in particular not conduct any religious propaganda, while anti-religious propaganda is expressly protected by the Constitution.

{footnote continued from p. 81} 'uninterrupted working week' was replaced by a six-day-week which likewise eliminated the Sunday. Rest days were fixed for the 6th, 12th, 18th, 24th, and 30th of each month. In 1940 the Soviet Government reverted to the seven-day-week for economic reasons. Sunday came into its own again after having ceased to exist for over seven years. {end footnote}

{p. 83} The League of Militant Godless

Between 1925 and 1941 this propaganda was carried out by a big organisation operating under the characteristic name of 'League of Militant Godless.' The League was in reality a department of the Communist Party and its chief, Emelyan Yaroslavsky, the official biographer of Stalin, was at the same time a member of the Bolshevik Central Committee. The League propagated atheism on a very large scale. It worked among the school youth, in trade unions, in villages and in the Red Army. It spared no religious group and was equally hostile to Christ, Mohammed and Buddha, who were the targets of blasphemous posters and of vulgar cartoons in the atheistic Press.

All pronouncements of the League as well as its vast literature made it clear that the cleavage between Communism and Islam or between Communism and Buddhism was as big as the gap separating the Communist Party from any of the Christian Churches. In co-operation with the state authorities the League not only conducted a violent campaign against Islam as such but also against the observance of all customs based on Moslem religious law. In its fight against Buddhism the League even went beyond the borders of Soviet Russia proper. It helped in the setting up of anti-religious organisations in the Soviet satellite state of Outer Mongolia whose population had always been greatly attached to the Buddhist faith.

The League pretended to fight what it called religious prejudices by scientific means, and some of its leaders may indeed have had serious intentions in this respect.

{p. 84 } The local branches of the League, however, cared little about science and frequently threatened and terrorised the believers. Sure of the passive or active support of the state organs, they were able to enforce by administrative methods the closing of churches, mosques and synagogues, of Christian monasteries and Buddhist lamaseries, or their transformation into anti-religious museums. The League was particularly active at the time of big religious holidays, during which the League used to organise anti-religious exhibitions and processions. It held anti-Easter and anti-Christmas meetings in the Christian areas of the USSR, and staged anti-Kurbam Bairam manifestations in Moslem territories. The chiefs of the anti-religious campaign also tried to supplement every big initiative of the Soviet Government by a special anti-religious action. Thus, to parallel the Five-Year Plan for national economy the League proclaimed a Five-Year Plan for anti-religious propaganda. The collectivisation of Soviet agriculture was to be accompanied by the de-Christianisation of the Russian countryside.

All this gigantic offensive led nowhere. The believers, it is true, did not put up any active resistance to the atheist campaign, but showed by their passive attitude that they disapproved of it {just as men in the West today patiently ignore Feminist jibes}. Many people went on saying their prayers, they kept the famous Russian ikons in their houses, they gave to their children a modicum of religious education and they also assisted financially the persecuted priests. In 1940, the twenty-third year of the Soviet regime, the organ of the League of Militant Godless, the review Antireligioznik, estimated that probably more than half, perhaps two-thirds of the Russian village population still believed in God. Also in the towns there

{p. 85} was still a large section of believers, even if the League classified the majority of the adult population as atheist. However, most of these alleged atheists refused to participate actively in the work of the League, which therefore declined from year to year.

The Orthodox Church

In view of the obvious failure of the anti-religious campaign the Soviet Government decided to embark on a new policy, a policy of qualified tolerance. Since it was not possible to do away with religious beliefs, the regime wanted at least to use the Churches for its own purposes. This new development was accclerated by the war. The Communist State needed the Churches as an ally against Hitlerite Germany and as a means to contact the large masses of believers in the democratic world. In this situation the League of Militant Godless ceased to exist and all atheist periodicals stopped publication. The Orthodox Church, as the largest of all religious communities, benefited most from the tactical change in Soviet policy towards religion. It was allowed to elect a patriarch—the last one had died in 1925—and it was permitted to set up an efficient church administration and to train its priests in a proper way.

From the official Communist point of view the Orthodox Church has a great advantage over the other religious communities of the Soviet Union. It does not look towards any foreign ecclesiastical body for guidance and inspiration. Firmly rooted in Russian historic traditions, the Orthodox Church is also less internationally minded than most of the other Churches represented in

{p. 86} the Soviet Union. The Communist Government is thus in a position to exercise much greater control over Orthodox Christians than over Moslems, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists and Buddhists living in the USSR.

The promotion of the Orthodox Church to the rank of an official Church in the atheist state may seem strange but it is a logical consequence of the dual Communist and Russian character of the Soviet regime. As a Communist Governrnent the Soviet regime is persecuting all Churches, but, as a Russian Govemment, it wants to see Moscow transformed into a big Church centre, into a rival Rome. A special Council for the Affairs of the Orthodox Church working under the direction of atheist officials has assisted the Patriarch of Moscow and the Orthodox Church Government in establishing a certain supervision over the Orthodox Churches in other states. Despite the general ban on foreign travelling existing in the Soviet Union for private persons, Russian Orthodox Bishops have been encouraged in recent years to go abroad. They were allowed to visit satellite states and various countries in the Middle East and in Western Europe to keep in touch with Orthodox Communities there and to enhance the prestige of the Moscow Patriarch.

In 1948 the Moscow Patriarch was even granted permission to hold a big church conference in the Soviet capital. The Orthodox Church had to pay for this favour and had to issue two sharp statements challenging the rest of the Christian world, one directed against the Vatican and the other against the World Council of Churches.

{p. 87} Non-Orthodox Churches

While there is a special state office for the Orthodox, one single state board, the 'Council for the Affairs of Religious Cults' looks after the other denominations of the Soviet Union. Most of them enjoy a far lesser degree of tolerance than does the Orthodox Church. The 'Council for the Affairs of Religious Cults' has to tackle amongst other things the problem of the small Christian sects which are scattered all over the USSR. The regime has always considered them as rather dangerous, paradoxically enough not because of their hostility towards Communism but because they manifested friendliness towards it. Some sects, including the Russian Baptists, have affirmed indeed that Communism and Christianity are identical.

The Bolshevik Party has always fought this assertion and is still fighting it now. It believes that enthusiasm shown by some Russian Christians for Communism, far from being commendable, creates confusion in the minds of Soviet citizens.

{end of quotes}

Roger Scruton, A Dictionary of Political Thought
(Pan Books in association with Macmillan, London, 1983).

{p. 28} Asiatic despotism. Probably synonymous with oriental despotism. A name sometimes given to the various forms of despotism exemplified in Asia, from the time of the Mongol invasions onwards, in which rigid institutions combined with close surveillance of all citizens, were used to uphold unstable and therefore ruthlessly autocratic power. The ruling class of bureaucrats was dominated by a sovereign whose powers depended mainly on the army, but also on the sanction of religious institutions, of which he was the nominal head. All insubordination was suppressed by terror, law was not respected, and decrees and institutions would be put aside as the sovereign required. This form of government was related by Marx to Asiatic modes of production, since the constant dissolution and refounding of the state and the unceasing changes of dynasty left the economic order untouched by the 'storm clouds in the political sky'. East European anti-communists (e.g. Milosz) sometimes describe the govemment that has been imposed on the states of Eastern Europe as a form of Asiatic despotism.

Asiatic modes of production. Description often given of the self-sufficient communities of Central, Southern and Eastern Asia, in which village economy persists with minimum division of labour, and in which production of food and other necessaries ossifies around traditional forms, remaining resistant to innovation. The existence of such modes of production (for example, in Java) tended to conflict with Marx's contention that productive forces have an innate tendency to develop and to overthrow successive production relations. Hence Marx often commented on 'these self-sufficing communities that constantly reproduce themselves in the same form, and when accidentally destroyed, spring up again on the same spot and with the same name'. He argued that capitalist imperialism was necessary in order to introduce into such societies the forces necessary to true historical change.

{p. 106} critical theory. The theoretical outlook associated with Max Horkheimer, Jurgen Habemmas, Theodor Adorno and other members of the Frankfurt school who, while professing allegiance to Marxist methods of historical analysis, have seen the principal significance of Marxism as residing not in the theory of history, nor in the explanation of economic value and the process of production, but in the conceptual tools which it provides for the critical analysis of consciousness—e.g. as false consciousness, or as alienated. The early Marx is valued partly because he bears the imprint of Hegel's speculative cultural analysis, and partly because he views the conflicts involved in capitalist production through their effects in the consciousness of those who participate in it. Many other sources also enter into cntical theory, including 'systems theory' or cybernetics, and hermeneutics. The master-thought seems to be this: that consciousness stands to be interpreted, and in its interpretation the

{p. 107} moral nature of sociai arrangements is revealed, in addition to their relationship to the production relations in which they occur. Associated with this 'diagnostic' analysis of consciousness is the attempt to explain crisis and catastrophe in all their forms, and on all the levels of self awareness at which they are revealed.

{p. 150} entryism (alternatively: entrism) The tactic of gaining clandestine admission to political organizations not directly concerned to advance one's aim in order to bend their purposes in one's favoured direction. (Usually, in the direction of subversion or communist revolution.) The term is now used widely, to mean any form of covert subversion (usually, but not necessarily, from the left), effected by duplicity and through membership of some institution dedicated to purposes to which one does not adhere.

{p. 177} Frankfurt school. The school of social thought represented by the Institute for Social Research, founded in the University of Frankfurt in 1923 and exiled to New York during the Nazi period. Principal members have been Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Marcuse and Jurgen Habermas, all of whom have been separately influential, and each of whom has subscribed in part to the critical theory advocated by Horkheimer, in which social and cultural phenomena are subjected to detailed criticism, using concepts proper, so it is claimed, to a Marxist analysis of consciousness. The Frankfurt school was instrumental in awakening interest in the early writings of Marx, in which the influence of Hegel's study of consciousness is still apparent, notably in the theory of alienation. Its members opposed the scientistic interpretation and application of historical matenalism, which, they felt, both undervalues the role of consciousness in human affairs, and also encourages a naive and dogmatic positivism, which is both doctrinaire in theory and highly destructive in practice. Since most members of the school have not believed in the possibility of a

{p. 178} value-free study of society, they have rejected the scientific claims of Marxism and attempted to adapt its concepts to the uses of cultural criticism, in order to examine institutions, practices and ways of thought that classical Marxism had referred to as superstructure. In this way the Frankfurt school was one of the first to produce a theory of art which could claim to be Marxist in inspiration without being obviously naive about its subject-matter. However, this very result indicates the extent to which consciousness is taken seriously as a subject for sociological analysis, and in a way that is not obviously compatible with the main tenets of Marxism. It is also possible to discern elements of cultural conservatism in the writings of Adorno and Habermas, beside which their professions of left-wing allegiance seem more like fashion than conviction. Habermas's theory of crisis does, however, attempt to preserve some of the structure of the Marxist theory of history, and to justify belief in the fact, if not in the value, of revolution. (See further crisis theory, critical theory, cybernetics.)

{p. 183} front organizations. Organizations which profess acceptable aims, in order to conceal the unacceptable aims which really motivate them. Usually the term describes organizations vhich are ostensibly liberal, democratic and constitutional, with respected and respectable members, controlled by activists owing allegiance to the Communist Party. They were much used by the Comintern, and have been among the most successful of all instruments of USSR foreign policy. They have also been used by Trotskyists, and by the US Central Intelligence Agency.

functional explanation. A type of explanation common in the social sciences, anthropology and biology, which attempts to incorporate into accepted models of scientific method the puzzling feature of teleology. It can be illustrated by the theory of evolution. Birds try to escape their predators by flying, and it seems natural to say that they have wings in order to do this. That is the germ of a teleological explanation, or explanation in terms of an end. We can rewrite this explanation and at the same time eliminate the reference to purpose, by using the idea of a function: wings have a function, in relation to the bird's need to survive. That wings have this function may then be invoked in order to explain the fact that birds possess them. Such an explanation no longer refers to an end ( a succeeding state of affairs) but to a cause (a preceding state of affairs). It is because wings have this function in relation to the condition of birds at time t that birds have wings at time t + d. How the explanation works (i.e. what theory might be invoked to entail it) may vary from case to case. The further details of the theory of evolution, as given by Darwin, are supposed to make the functional explanation more plausible. Thus, in the light of the theoretical hypothesis of natural selection, one can show how the function of wings determines their existence. But the functional explanation might have been correct, even though the theory of natural selection (which entails it) was not.

In a similar way, an anthropologist may explain ceremonies, and other social practices, in terms of a function that relates them to the well-being of a tribe. Such an explanation may eliminate all reference to purpose ...

{p. 275} Locke, John (1632-1704). English philosopher whose political writings contain one of the finest modern justifications of limited govemment, and one of the first statements of the principles of modern liberalism. Locke argued against the theory of divine right, and defended a form of constitutional govemment within the framework of natural rights, his theory was taken as an intellectual foundation by many of the Founding Fathers of the US, and also by several of the French revolutionaries. His two Treatises of Civil Government, 1690, remain standard works of political theory, while his Letter on Toleration, 1689, contains a vigorous defence of the liberal principle of toleration.

(i) There are natural rights which derive from a 'law of nature' implanted by God in all reasoning beings. It is given to reason to perceive these rights and they exist independently of any social order. Principal among them are the rights to life, limb and freedom of action: no one can deprive me of these without doing me wrong, unless I myself have done something to give him just cause (perhaps not even then, since Locke sometimes describes these rights as 'inalienable'). There is also a natural nght to private property: any object which is appropriated or produced by 'mixing my labour' with it is, given certain conditions, e.g. that it was not the subiect of some prior

{p. 276} right, mine, as much as the limbs that worked on it are mine. (This is a kind of labour theory of nght which indirectly inspired the 'labour theory of value.)

(ii) Natural rights exist in a state of nature, and do not require the absolute protection and control of Hobbes's sovereign for their recognition. They are specific individual rights and cannot be removed or limited except by the consent of those possessing them, a process which probably extends only to freedom of action and property, and not to life and limb (see above). All government, since it involves the limitation of the freedom of the subject and his subjection to a higher power, must, therefore, be the result of consent if it is to be legitimate, and no government is made legitimate in any other way. Locke brings powerful arguments against the idea of an independent hereditary principle of government, and against other doctrines of legitimacy that try to bypass the need for consent on the part of the governed.

(iii) The model for legitimate government is therefore to be found in contract. The transition from the state of nature to the state of civil society would involve a legitimate transfer, renunciation and creation of rights were it to result from a social contract (or 'compact'), by which free beings contract among each other to accept the curtailment of their several rights in exchange for the benefits and security of society. This compact is not a historical event, but, as it were, a structure concealed within society, which is revealed, whenever there is genuine 'political obligation, by a species of tacit consent.

(iv) Tacit consent is demonstrated in a variety of ways, but one extremely important cntenon is that a citizen, given the opportunity to remove himself to some 'vacant place' outside the sphere of political obligation, chooses not to do so. This shows that he remains bound by the duties of the subject by his own choice, so that those duties are genuine obligations that he has incurred. Even travelling on the highway through some foreign place obligates the individual to accept the law there obtaining. (This aspect of the theory was much criticized, notably by Hume.)

(v) Civil society forms itself into particular institutions of government which enshrine and protect the contractual relation among its members. Locke did not develop a complete theory of political institutions, but he advocated limited government, constitution, and some kind of (preferably democratic) representation. He also suggested that liberties could be better protected and the social compact better upheld by an effective separation of powers—he thereby introduced a notion that was to have radical influence, partly through the more careful and systematic theory of it given by Montesquieu .

Locke's political philosophy can be seen as a defence of the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688, as an imaginative exposition of perennial ideas of liberty and justice, and as an apologetic for the legal system associated with a market economy, and with the contractual relation between worker and capitalist.