chapter  6
5 Pages

The social question

At the point at which the intellectual understanding of the mass of the people has ceased to develop, democracy will necessarily, either by legal means or by force, try to obtain a distribution of wealth that procures the worker a reasonable existence and security for tomorrow. This problem is unsolvable by its nature, or, at least, the means to solve it have not yet made themselves apparent. It is unsolvable because it is not well formulated. The wealth to be distributed is not an existing reality, as it is vaguely conceived to be in the popular imagination; it is created incessantly by labour, and the first condition that a reasonable distribution of the daily labour’s products must fulfill is not the satisfaction of the demands of consumers, not even the most equitable and moderate ones, but assurance of the continuity of production of the necessities of life, which tend naturally to increase. This production is impelled by the force of circumstances; that is to say, either by slavery, or by the personal interest of the workers, which presupposes private property, inheritance, inequality of wealth, ownership of machines and factories, the conflicts among capitalists, entrepreneurs, and workers; in a word, all the important features of economic organization that people complain about. The suffering of the working class can only be met by palliatives, partial remedies whose effectiveness requires reciprocal trust and general benevolence.