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Full text of "Letters to Dr. Kugelmann"

AND THE STATE 



BY 



MICHAEL BAKUNIN 



Mother Earth Publishing Association 



UNIVERSITY PLACE BOOK SHOP 




MICHAEL BAKUNIN 



GOD AND THE STATE 



BY 

MICHAEL BAKUNIN 



WITH A PREFACE BY 

CARLO CAFIERO AND ELISfiE RECLUS 

r 



First American Edition 



MOTHER EARTH PUBLISHING ASSOCIATION 

20 East 125th Street 
New York City 



62B288 



Preface to the First French Edition 

One of us is soon to tell in all its details the story of the life 
of Michael Baknnin, but its general features are already sufficiently 
familiar. Friends and enemies know that this man was great in 
thought, will, persistent energy; they know also with what lofty con 
tempt he looked down upon wealth, rank, glory, all the wretched 
ambitions which most human beings are base enough to entertain. 
A [Russian gentleman related by marriage to the highest nobility 
of the empire, he was one of the first to enter that intrepid society 
of rebels who were able to release themselves from traditions, 
prejudices, race and class interests, and set their own comfort at 
naught. With them he fought the stern battle of life, aggravated 
by imprisonment, exile, all the dangers and all the sorrows that 
men of self-sacrifice have to undergo during their tormented ex 
istence. 

A simple stone and a name mark the spot in the cemetery of 
Berne where was laid the body of Bakunin. Even that is perhaps 
too much to honor the memory of a worker who held vanities of 
that sort in such slight esteem. His friends surely will raise to him 
no ostentatious tombstone or statue. They know with what a huge 
laugh he would have received them, had they spoken to him of a 
commemorative structure erected to his glory; they knew, too, that 
the true way to honor their dead is to continue their work with the 
same ardor and perseverance that they themselves brought to it. 
In this case, indeed, a difficult task demanding all our efforts, for 
among the revolutionists of the present generation not one has 
labored more fervently in the common cause of the Revolution. 

In Russia among the students, in Germany among the insurgents 
of Dresden, in Siberia among his brothers in exile, in America, in 
England, in France, in Switzerland, in Italy, among all earnest men, 
his direct influence has been considerable. The originality of his 
ideas, the imagery and vehemence of his eloquence, his untiring 
zeal in propagandism, helped too by the natural majesty of his 
person and by a powerful vitality, gave Bakunin access to all the 
revolutionary groups, and his efforts left deep traces everywhere, 



6 GOD AND THE STATE 

even upon those who, after having welcomed him, thrust him out 
because of a difference of object or method. His correspondence 
was most extensive ; he passed entire nights in preparing long letters 
to his friends in the revolutionary world, and some of these letters, 
written to strengthen the timid, arouse the sluggish, and outline 
plans of propagandism or revolt, took on the proportions of veritable 
volumes. These letters more than anything else explain the pro 
digious work of Bakunin in the revolutionary movement of the 
century. The pamphlets published by him, in Russian, French, and 
Italian, however important they may be, and however useful they 
may have been in spreading the new ideas, are the smallest part 
of Bakunin s work. 

The present memoir, "God and the State," is really a fragment 
of a letter or report. Composed in the same manner as most of 
Bakunin s other writings, it has the same literary fault, lack of 
proportion; moreover it breaks off abruptly: we have searched in 
vain to discover the end of the manuscript. Bakunin never had the 
time necessary to finish all the tasks he undertook. One work was 
not completed when others were already under way. "My life itself 
is a fragment," he said to those who criticised his writings. Never 
theless, the readers of "God and the State" certainly will not regret 
that Bakunin s memoir, incomplete though it be, has been pub 
lished. The questions discussed in it are treated decisively and with 
a singular vigor of logic. Rightly addressing himself only to his 
honest opponents, Bakunin demonstrates to them the emptiness of 
their belief in that divine authority on which all temporal authorities 
are founded; he proves to them the purely human genesis of all 
governments; finally, without stopping to discuss those bases of 
the State already condemned by public morality, such as physical 
superiority, violence, nobility, wealth, he does justice to the theory 
which would entrust science with the government of societies. Sup 
posing even that it were possible to recognize, amid the conflict of 
rival ambitions and intrigues, who are the pretenders and who are 
the real savants, and that a method of election could be found 
which would not fail to lodge the power in the hands of those whose 
knowledge is authentic, what guarantee could they offer us of the 
wisdom and honesty of their government? On the contrary, can 



GOD AND THE STATE 7 

we not foresee in these new masters the same follies and the same 
crimes found in those of former days and of the present time? In 
the first place, science is not: it is becoming. The learned man of 
to-day is but the know-nothing of to-morrow. Let him once imagine 
that he has reached the end, and for that very reason he sinks 
beneath even the babe just born. But, could he recognize truth in 
its essence, he can only corrupt himself by privilege and corrupt 
others by power. To establish his government, he must try, like 
all chiefs of State, to arrest the life of the masses moving below 
him, keep them in ignorance in order to preserve quiet, and gradu 
ally debase them that he may rule them from a loftier throne. 

For the rest, since the doctrinaires made their appearance, the 
true or pretended "genius" has been trying his hand at wielding 
the sceptre of the world, and we know what it has cost us. We 
have seen them at work, all these savants: the more hardened the 
more they have studied; the narrower in their viwes the more 
time they have spent in examining some isolated fact in all its 
aspects; without any experience of life, because they have long 
known no other horizon than the walls of their cheese; childish 
in their passions and vanities, because they have been unable to 
participate in serious struggles and have never learned the true 
proportion of things. Have we not recently witnessed the founda 
tion of a whole school of "thinkers" wretched courtiers, too, and 
people of unclean lives who have constructed a whole cosmogony 
for their sole use? According to them, worlds have been created, 
societies have developed, revolutions have overturned nations, em 
pires have gone down in blood, poverty, disease, and death have 
been the queens of humanity, only to raise up an elite of academi 
cians, the full-blown flower, of which all other men are but the 
manure. That these editors of the Temps and the Debats may 
have leisure to "think," nations live and die in ignorance ; all other 
human beings are destined for death in order that these gentlemen 
may become immortal ! 

But we may reassure ourselves: all these academicians will not 
have the audacity of Alexander in cutting with his sword the 
Gordian knot; they will not lift the blade of Charlemagne. Govern 
ment by science is becoming as impossible as that of divine right, 



8 GOD AND THE STATE 

wealth, or brute force. All powers are henceforth to be submitted 
to pitiless criticism. Men in whom the sentiment of equality is 
born suffer themselves no longer to be governed ; they learn to 
govern themselves. In precipitating from the heights of the heavens 
him from whom all power is reputed to descend, societies unseat 
also all those who reigned in his name. Such is the revolution now 
in progress. States are breaking up to give place to a new order, in 
which, as Bakunin was fond of saying, "human justice will be sub 
stituted for divine justice." If it is allowable to cite any one name 
from those of the revolutionists who have taken part in this im 
mense work of renovation, there is not one that may be singled out 
with more justice than that of Michael Bakunin. 

Carlo Cafiero. 
Elisee Reclus. 



GOD AND THE STATE 




HO are right, the idealists or the materialists? 
The question once stated in this way hesitation 
becomes impossible. Undoubtedly the idealists 
are wrong and the materialists right. Yes, facts 
are before ideas; yes, the ideal, as Proudhon 
said, is but a flower, whose root lie s in the rha- 

terial conditions of existence. Yes, the whole 

history of humanity, intellectual and moral, political and so 
cial, is but a reflection of its economic history. 

All branches of modern science, of true and disinter 
ested science, concur in proclaiming this grand truth, funda 
mental and decisive: The social world, properly speaking, 
the human world in short, humanity is nothing other than 
the last and supreme development at least on our planet 
and as far as we know the highest manifestation of ani- 
mality. But as every development necessarily implies a 
negation, that of its base or point of departure, humanity is 
at the same time and essentially the deliberate and gradual 
negation of the animal element in man; and it is precisely 
this negation, as rational as it is natural, and rational only 
because natural at once historical and logical, as inevitable 
as the development and realization of all the natural laws 
in the world that constitutes and creates the ideal, the 
world of intellectual and moral convictions, ideas. 

- Yes, our first ancestors, our Adams and our Eves, were, 
if not gorillas, very near relatives of gorillas, omnivorous, 
intelligent and ferocious beasts, endowed in a higher degree 
than the animals of any other species with, two precious 
faculties the power to think and the desire to rebel. 

These faculties, combining their progressive action in 



IO GOD AND THE STATE 

history, represent the essential factor, the negative power in 
the positive development of human animality, and create con 
sequently all that constitutes humanity in man. 

The Bible, which is a very interesting and here and there 
very profound book when considered as one of the oldest 
surviving manifestations of human wisdom and fancy, ex 
presses this truth very naively in its myth of original sin. 
Jehovah, who of all the good gods adored by men was ^ cer 
tainly the most jealous, the most vain, the most ferocious, 
the most unjust, the most bloodthirsty, the most despotic, 
and the most hostile to human dignity and liberty Jehovah 
had just created Adam and Eve, to satisfy we know not 
what caprice ; no doubt to while away his time, which must 
weigh heavy on his hands in his eternal egoistic solitude ; or 
that he might have some new slaves. He generously placed 
at their disposal the whole earth, with all its fruits and 
animals, and set but a single limit to this complete enjoy 
ment. He expressly forbade them from touching the fruit 
of the tree of knowledge. He wished, therefore, that man, 
destitute of all understanding of himself, should remain an 
eternal beast, ever on all-fours before the eternal God, his 
creator and his master. But here steps in Satan, the eternal 
rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds. 
He makes man ashamed of his bestial ignorance and obedi 
ence ; he emancipates him, stamps upon his brow the seal of 
liberty and humanity, in urging him to disobey and eat of the 
fruit of knowledge. 

We know what followed. The good God, whose fore 
sight, which is one of the divine faculties, should have 
warned him of what would happen, flew into a terrible and 
ridiculous rage ; he cursed Satan, man, and the world created 
by himself, striking himself so to speak in his own creation, 
as children do when they get angry; and, not content with 
smiting our ancestors themselves, he cursed them in all the 
generations to come, innocent of the crime committed by 
their forefathers. Our Catholic and Protestant theologians 
look upon that as very profound and very just, precisely 



GOD AND THE STATE 1 1 

because it is monstrously iniquitous and absurd. Then, re 
membering that he was not only a God of vengeance and 
wrath, but also a God of love, after having tormented the 
existence of a few milliards of poor human beings and con 
demned them to an eternal hell, he took pity on the rest, and, 
to save them and reconcile his eternal and divine love with 
his eternal and divine anger, always greedy for victims and 
blood, he sent into the world, as an expiatory victim, his 
only son, that he might be killed by men. "That is called the 
mystery of the Redemption, the basis of all the Christian 
religions. Still, if the divine Savior had saved the human 
world ! But no ; in the paradise promised by Christ, as we 
know, such being "the ; formal announcement, the elect will 
number very few. The rest, the immense majority of the 
generations present and to come, will burn eternally in hell. 
In the meantime, to console us, God, ever just, ever good, 
hands over the earth to the government of the Napoleon 
Thirds, of the William Firsts, of the Ferdinands of Austria, 
and of the Alexanders of all the Russias. 

Such are the absurd tales that are told and the mon 
strous doctrines that are taught, in the full light of the 
nineteenth century, in all the public schools of Europe, 
at the express command of the government. They call 
this civilizing the people! Is it not plain that all these 
governments are systematic poisoners, interested stupefiers 
of the masses? 

I have wandered from my subject, because anger gets 
hold of me whenever I think of the base and criminal means 
which they employ to keep the nations in perpetual slavery, 
undoubtedly that they may be the better able to fleece them. 
Of what consequence are the crimes of all the Tropmanns 
in the world compared with this crime of treason against 
humanity committed daily, in broad day, over the whole 
surface of the civilized world, by those who dare to call 
themselves the guardians and the fathers of the people? I 
return to the myth of original sin. 

God admitted that Satan was right; he recognized that 



12 GOD AND THE STATE 

the devil did not deceive Adam and Eve in promising them 
knowledge and liberty as a reward for the act of disobedi 
ence which he had induced them to commit; for, imme 
diately they had eaten of the forbidden fruit, God himself 
said (see Bible) : "Behold, the man is become as one of 
the gods, to know good and evil; prevent him, therefore, 
from eating of the fruit of eternal life, lest he become im 
mortal like Ourselves." 

Let us disregard now the fabulous portion of this myth 
and consider its true meaning, which is very clear. Man has 
emancipated himself; he has separated himself from ani- 
mality and constituted himself a man ; he has begun his dis 
tinctively human history and development by an act of dis 
obedience and science that is, by rebellion and by thought. 

Three elements or, if you like, three fundamental prin 
ciples constitute the essential conditions of all human de 
velopment, collective or individual, in history: (i) human 
animality; (2) thought; and (3) rebellion. To the first 
properly corresponds social and private economy; to the 
second, science; to the third, liberty. 

Idealists of all schools, aristocrats and bourgeois, theolo 
gians and metaphysicians, politicians and moralists, religion 
ists, philosophers, or poets, not forgetting the liberal econo 
mists unbounded worshippers of the ideal, as we know 
are much offended when told that man, with his magnificent 
intelligence, his sublime ideas, and his boundless aspirations, 
is, like all else existing in the world, nothing but matter, 
only a product of vile matter. 

We may answer that the matter of which materialists 
speak, matter spontaneously and eternally mobile, active, 
productive, matter chemically or organically determined and 
manifested by the properties or forces, mechanical, physical, 
animal, and intelligent, which necessarily belong to it that 
this matter has nothing in common with the vile matter of 
the idealists. The latter, a product of their false abstraction, 



GOD AND THE STATE 13 

is indeed a stupid, inanimate, immobile thing, incapable of 
giving birth to the smallest product, a caput mortuum, an 
ugly fancy in contrast to the beautiful fancy which they call 
God; as the opposite of this supreme being, matter, their 
matter, stripped by them of all that constitutes its real na 
ture, necessarily represents supreme nothingness. They 
have taken away from matter intelligence, life, all its de 
termining qualities, active relations or forces, motion itself, 
without which matter would not even have weight, leaving it 
nothing but impenetrability and absolute immobility in space ; 
they have attributed all these natural forces, properties, and 
manifestations to the imaginary being created by their ab 
stract fancy ; then, interchanging roles, they have called this 
product of their imagination, this phantom, this God who 
is nothing, "supreme Being," and, as a necessary conse 
quence, have declared that the real being, matter, the world, 
is nothing. After which they gravely tell us that this matter 
is incapable of producing anything, not even of setting it 
self in motion, and consequently must have been created 
by their God. 

At the end of this book I exposed the fallacies and 
truly revolting absurdities to which one is inevitably led by 
this imagination of a God, let him be considered as a per 
sonal being, the creator and organizer of worlds; or even 
as impersonal, a kind of divine soul spread over the whole 
universe and constituting thus its eternal principle; or let 
him be an idea, infinite and divine, always present and active 
in the world, and always manifested by the totality of ma 
terial and definite beings. Here I shall deal with one point 
only. 

The gradual development of the material world, as well 
as of organic animal life and of the historically progressive 
intelligence of man, individually or socially, is perfectly 
conceivable. It is a wholly natural movement from the 
simple to the complex, from the lower to the higher, from 
the inferior to the superior; a movement in conformity with 
all our daily experiences, and consequently in conformity 



14 GOD AND THE STATE 

also with our natural logic, with the distinctive laws of our 
mind, which being formed and developed only by the aid 
of these same experiences, is, so to speak, but the mental, 
cerebral reproduction or reflected summary thereof. 

The system of the idealists is quite the contrary of this. 
It is the reversal of all human experiences and of that uni 
versal and common good sense which is the essential condi 
tion of all human understanding, and which, in rising from 
die simple and unanimously recognized truth that twice two 
are four to the sublimest and most complex scientific con 
siderations admitting, moreover, nothing that has not stood 
the severest tests of experience or observation of things and 
facts becomes the only serious basis of human knowledge. 

Very far from pursuing the natural order from the lower 
to the higher, from the inferior to the superior, and from 
the relatively simple to the more complex ; instead of wisely 
and rationally accompanying the progressive and real move 
ment from the world called inorganic to the world organic, 
vegetables, animal, and then distinctively human from 
chemical matter or chemical being to living matter or living 
being, and from living being to thinking being the idealists, 
obsessed, blinded, and pushed on by the divine phantom 
which they have inherited from theology, take precisely the 
opposite course. They go from the higher to the lower, 
from the superior to the inferior, from the complex to the 
simple. Thety begin with God, either as a person or as 
divine substance or idea, and the first step that they take 
is a terrible fall from the sublime heights of the eternal 
ideal into the mire of the material world ; from absolute per 
fection into absolute imperfection; from thought to being, 
or rather, from supreme being to nothing. When, how, 
and why the divine being, eternal, infinite, absolutely per 
fect, probably weary of himself, decided upon this desperate 
salto mortale is something which no idealist, no theologian, 
no metaphysician, no poet, has ever been able to understand 
himself or explain to the profane. All religions, past and 
present, and all the systems of transcendental philosophy 



GOD AND THE STATE 15 

hinge on this unique and iniquitous mystery.* Holy men, 
inspired lawgivers, prophets, messiahs, have searched it for 
life, and found only torment and death. Like the ancient 
sphinx, it has devoured them, because they could not explain 
it. Great philosophers, from Heraclitus and Plato down to 
Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Kant, Fichte.. Schelling, and 
Hegel, not to mention the Indian philosophers, have written 
heaps of volumes and built systems as ingenious as sublime, 
in which they have said by the way many beautiful and 
grand things and discovered immortal truths, but they have 
left this mystery, the principal object of their transcendental 
investigations, as unfathomable as before. The gigantic 
efforts of the most wonderful geniuses that the world has 
known, and who, one after another, for at least thirty cen 
turies, have undertaken anew this labor of Sisyphus, have 
resulted only in rendering this mystery still more incompre 
hensible. Is it to be hoped that it will be unveiled to us by 
the routine speculations of some pedantic disciple of an arti 
ficially warmed-over metaphysics at a time when all living 
and serious spirits have abandoned that ambiguous science 
born of a compromise historically explicable no doubt be 
tween the unreason of faith and sound scientific reason? 

It is evident that this terrible mystery is inexplicable 
that is, absurd, because only the absurd admits of no ex 
planation. It is evident that whoever finds it essential to 
his happiness and life must renounce his reason, and return, 
if he can, to naive, blind, stupid faith, to repeat with Ter- 
tullianus and all sincere believers these words, which sum 
up the very quintessence of theology: Credo quia absur- 
dum. Then all discussion ceases, and nothing remains but 
the triumphant stupidity of faith. But immediately there 

*I call it "iniquitous" because, as I believe I have proved in 
the Appendix alluded to, this mystery has been and still continues 
to be the consecration of all the horrors which have been and are 
being committed in the world; I call it unique, because all the 
other theological and metaphysical absurdities which debase the 
human mind are but its necessary consequences. 



1 6 GOD AND THE STATE 

arises another question : How comes an intelligent and 
ivell-informed man ever to fe~eT~flie need of believing in this 
mystery? 

Nothing is more natural than that the belief in God, the 
creator, regulator, judge, master, curser, savior, and bene 
factor of the world, should still prevail among "the people, 
especially in the rural districts, where it is more widespread 
than among the proletariat of the cities. The people, un 
fortunately, are still very ignorant, and are kept in ignorance 
by the systematic efforts of all the governments, who con 
sider this ignorance, not without good reason, as one of the 
essential conditions of their own power. Weighted down 
by their daily labor, deprived of leisure, of intellectual in 
tercourse, of reading, in short of all the means and a good 
portion of the stimulants that develop thought in men, the 
people generally accept religious traditions without criti 
cism and in a lump. These traditions surround them from 
infancy in all the situations of life, and artificially sustained 
in their minds by a multitude of official poisoners of all 
sorts, priests and laymen, are transformed therein into a 
sort of mental and moral habit, too often more powerful 
even than their natural good sense. 

There is another reason which explains and in some sort 
justifies the absurd beliefs of the people namely, the 
wretched situation to which they find themselves fatally con 
demned by the economic organization of society in the most 
civilized countries of Europe. Reduced, intellectually and 
morally as well as materially, to the minimum of human ex 
istence, confined in their life like a prisoner in his prison, 
without horizon, without outlet, without even a future if we 
believe the economists, the people would have the singularly 
narrow souls and blunted instincts of the bourgeois if they 
did not feel a desire to escape; but of escape there are but 
three methods two chimerical and a third real. The first 
two are Hie dram-shop and the church, debauchery of the 
body or debauchery of the mind ; the third is social revolu 
tion. Hence I conclude this last will be much more potent 



GOD AND THE STATE 17 

than all the theological propagandist!! of the freethinkers to 
destroy to their last vestige the religious beliefs and disso 
lute habits of the people, beliefs and habits much more in 
timately connected than is generally supposed. In substitut 
ing for the at once illusory and brutal enjoyments of bodily 
and spiritual licentiousness the enjoyments, as refined as they 
are real, of humanity developed in each and all, the social 
revolution alone will have the power to close at the same 
time all the dram-shops and all the churches. 

Till then the people, taken as a whole, will believe ; and, 
if they have no reason to believe, they will have at least a 
right 

There is a class of people who, if they do not believe, 
must at least make a semblance of believing. This class, 
comprising all the tormentors, all the oppressors, and all the 
exploiters of humanity; priests, monarchs, statesmen, sol 
diers, public and private financiers, officials of all sorts, 
policemen, gendarmes, jailers and executioners, monopolists, 
capitalists, tax-leeches, contractors and landlords, lawyers, 
economists, politicians of all shades, down to the smallest 
vendor of sweetmeats, all will repeat in unison those word? 
of Voltaire: 

"If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent 
him." For, you understand, "the people must have a re 
ligion." That is the safety-valve. 

There exists, finally, a somewhat numerous class of 
honest but timid souls who, too intelligent to take the Chris 
tian dogmas seriously, reject them in detail, but have neither 
the courage nor the strength nor the necessary resolution to 
summarily renounce them altogether. They abandon to 
your criticism all the special absurdities of religion, they 
turn up their noses at all the miracles, but they cling des 
perately to the principal absurdity; the source of all the 
others, to the miracle that explains and justifies all the other 
miracles, the existence of God. Their God is not the vigor 
ous and powerful being, the brutally positive God of theol 
ogy. It is a nebulous, diaphanous, illusory being that van- 



1 8 GOD AND THE STATE 

ishes into nothing at the first attempt to grasp it; it is a 
mirage, an ignis fatuus that neither warms nor illuminates. 
And yet they hold fast to it, and believe that, were it to 
disappear, all would disappear with it. They are uncertain, 
sickly souls, who have lost their reckoning in the present 
civilization, belonging to neither the present nor the future, 
pale phantoms eternally suspended between heaven and 
earth, and occupying exactly the same position between the 
politics of the bourgeois and the Socialism of the prole 
tariat. They have neither the power nor the wish nor the 
determination to follow out their thought, and they waste 
their time and pains in constantly endeavoring to reconcile 
the irreconcilable. In public life these are known as bour 
geois Socialists. 

With them, or against them, discussion is out of the 
question. They are too puny. 

But there are a few illustrious, .men of whom no one 
will dare to speak without respect, and whose vigorous 
health, strength of mind, and good intention no one will 
dream of calling in question. I need only cite the names of 
Mazzini, Michelet, Quinet, John Stuart Mill.* Generous 
and strong souls, great hearts, great minds, great 
writers, and the first the heroic and revolutionary re 
generator of a great nation, they are all apostles of idealism 
and bitter despisers and adversaries of materialism, and 
consequently of Socialism also, in philosophy as well as in 
politics. 

Against them, then, we must discuss this question. 

First, let it be remarked that not one of the illustrious 
men I have just named nor any other idealistic thinker of 

*Mr. Stuart Mill is perhaps the only one whose serious idealism 
may be fairly doubted, and that for two reasons: first, that, if not 
absolutely the disciple, he is a passionate admirer, an adherent of 
the positive philosophy of Auguste Comte, a philosophy which, in 
spite of its numerous reservations, is really Atheistic; second, that 
Mr. Stuart Mill is English, and in England to proclaim oneself 
an Atheist is to ostracise onself. even at this late day. 



GOD AND THE STATE 19 

any consequence in our day has given any attention to the 
logical side of this question properly speaking. Not one has 
tried to settle philosophically the possibility of the divine ; 
salto mortale from the pure and eternal regions of spirit 
into the mire of the material world. Have they feared to 
approach this irreconcilable contradiction and despaired of 
solving it after the failures of the greatest geniuses of his 
tory, or have they looked upon it as already sufficiently well 
settled? That is their secret. The fact is that they have 
neglected the theoretical demonstration of the existence of a 
God, and have developed only its practical motives and con 
sequences. They have treated it as a fact universally ac 
cepted, and, as such, no longer susceptible of any doubt 
whatever, for sole proof thereof limiting themselves to the 
establishment of the antiquity and this very universality of 
the belief in God. 

This imposing unanimity, in the eyes of many illustrious 
men and writers to quote only the most famous of them who 
eloquently expressed it, Joseph de Maistre and the great 
Italian patriot, Giuseppe Mazzini is of more value than 
all the demonstrations of science ; and if the reasoning of a 
small number of logical and even very powerful, but iso 
lated, thinkers is against it, so much the worse, they say, 
for these thinkers and their logic, for universal consent, the 
general and primitive adoption of an idea, has always been 
considered the most triumphant testimony to its truth. The 
sentiment of the whole world, a conviction that is found 
and maintained always and everywhere, cannot be mistaken ; 
it must have its root in a necessity absolutely inherent in 
the very nature of man. And since it has been established 
that all peoples, past and present, have believed and still be 
lieve in the existence of God, it is clear that those who have 
the misfortune to doubt it, whatever the logic that led them 
to this doubt, are abnormal exceptions, monsters. 

Thus, then, the antiquity and universality of a belief 
should be regarded, contrary to all science and all logic, as 
sufficient and unimpeachable proof of its truth. Why? 



20 GOD AND THE STATE 

Until the days of Copernicus and Galileo everybody be 
lieved that the sun revolved about the earth. Was not every 
body mistaken? What is more ancient and more universal 
than slavery? Cannibalism perhaps. From the origin of 
historic society down to the present day there has been 
always and everywhere exploitation of the compulsory labor 
of the masses slaves, serfs, or wage-workers by some 
dominant minority; oppression of the people by the Church 
and by the State. Must it be concluded that this exploita 
tion and this oppression are necessities absolutely inherent 
in the very existence of human society? These are examples 
which show that the argument of the champions of God 
proves nothing. 

Nothing, in fact, is as universal or as ancient as the ini 
quitous and absurd; truth and justice, on the contrary, are 
the least universal, the youngest features in the develop 
ment of human society. In this fact, too, lies the explana 
tion of a constant historical phenomenon namely, the per 
secution of which those who first proclaim the truth have 
been and continue to be the objects at the hands of the 
official, privileged, and interested representatives of "univer 
sal" and "ancient" beliefs, and often also at the hands of 
the same masses who, after having tortured them, always end 
by adopting their ideas and rendering them victorious. 

To us materialists and Revolutionary Socialists, there is 
nothing astonishing or terrifying in this historical phenome 
non. Strong in our conscience, in our love of truth at all 
hazards, in that passion for logic which of itself alone con 
stitutes a great power and outside of which there is no 
thought; strong in our passion for justice and in our un 
shakable faith in the triumph of humanity over all theoreti 
cal and practical bestialities; strong, finally, in the mutual 
confidence and support given each other by the few who 
share our convictions we resign ourselves to all the conse 
quences of this historical phenomenon, in which we see the 
manifestation of a social law as natural, as necessary, and 
as invariable as all the other laws which govern the world. 



GOD AND THE STATE 21 

This law is a logical, inevitable consequence of the ani 
mal origin of human society; for in face of all the scientific, 
physiological, psychological, and historical proofs accumu 
lated at the present day, as well as in face of the exploits of 
the Germans conquering France, which now furnish so 
striking a demonstration thereof, it is no longer possible to 
really doubt this origin. But from the moment that this 
animal origin of man is accepted, all is explained. History 
then appears to us as the revolutionary negation, now slow, 
apathetic, sluggish, now passionate and powerful, of the 
past. It consists precisely in the progressive negation of 
the primitive animality of man by the development of his 
humanity. Man, a wild beast, cousin of the gorilla, has 
emerged from the profound darkness of animal instinct 
into the light of the mind, which explains in a wholly natural 
way all his past mistakes and partially consoles us for his 
present errors. He has gone out from animal slavery, and 
passing through divine slavery, a temporary condition be 
tween his animality and his humanity, he is now marching 
on to the conquest and realization of human liberty. Whence 
it results that the antiquity of a belief, of an idea, far from 
proving anything in its favor, ought, on the contrary, to lead 
us to suspect it. For behind us is our animality and before 
us our humanity ; human light, the only thing that can warm 
and enlighten us, the only thing that can emancipate us, 
give us dignity, freedom, and happiness, and realize fratern 
ity among us, is never at the beginning, but, relatively to 
the epoch in which we live, always at the end of history. 
Let us, then, never look back, let us look ever forward ; for 
forward is our sunlight, forward our salvation. If it is jus 
tifiable, and even useful and necessary, to turn back to study 
our past, it is only in order to establish what we have been 
and what we must no longer be, what we have believed and 
thought and what we must no longer believe or think, what 
we have done and what we must do nevermore. 

So much for antiquity. As for the universality of an 
error, it proves but one thing the similarity, if not the 



22 GOD AND THE STATE 

perfect identity, of human nature in all ages and under all 
skies. And, since it is established that all peoples, at all 
periods of their life, have believed and still believe in God, 
we must simply conclude that the divine idea, an outcome 
of ourselves, is an error historically necessary in the de 
velopment of humanity, and ask why and how it was pro 
duced in history and why an immense majority of the human 
race still accept it as a truth. 

Until we shall account to ourselves for the manner in 
which the idea of a supernatural or divine world was de 
veloped and had to be developed in the historical evolution 
of the human conscience, all our scientific conviction of its 
absurdity will be in vain ; until then we shall never succeed 
in destroying it in the opinion of the majority, because we 
shall never be able to attack it in the very depths of the hu 
man being where it had birth. Condemned to a fruitless 
struggle, without issue and without end, we should for ever 
have to content ourselves with fighting it solely on the sur 
face, in its innumerable manifestations, whose absurdity 
will be scarcely beaten down by the blows of common sense 
before it will reappear in a new form no less nonsensical. 
While the root of all the absurdities that torment the world, 
belief in God, remains intact, it will never fail to bring forth 
new offspring. Thus, at the present time, in certain sec 
tions of the highest society, Spiritualism tends to establish 
itself upon the ruins of Christianity. 

It is not only in the interest of the masses, it is in that 
of the health of our own minds, that we should .strive to 
understand the historic genesis, the succession of causes 
which developed and produced the idea of God in the con 
sciousness of men. In vain shall we call and believe our 
selves Atheists, until we comprehend these causes, for, until 
then, we shall always suffer ourselves to be more or less 
governed by the clamors of this universal conscience whose 
secret we have not discovered ; and, considering the natural 
weakness of even the strongest individual against the all- 
powerful influence of the social surroundings that trammel 



GOD AND THE STATE 23 

him, we are always in danger of relapsing sooner or later, 
in one way or another, into the abyss of religious absurdity. 
Examples of these shameful conversions are frequent in so 
ciety to-day. 

I have stated the chief practical reason of the power still 
exercised to-day over the masses by religious beliefs. These 
mystical tendencies do not signify in man so much an aber 
ration of mind as a deep discontent at heart. They are the 
instinctive and passionate protest of the human being against 
the narrowness, the platitudes, the sorrows, and the shame 
of a wretched existence. For this malady, I have already 
said, there is but one remedy Social Revolution. 

In the meantime I have endeavored to show the causes 
responsible for the birth and historical development of re 
ligious hallucinations in the human conscience. Here it is 
my purpose to treat this question of the existence of a God, 
or of the divine origin of the world and of man, solely from 
the standpoint of its moral and social utility, and I shall say 
only a few words, to better explain my thought, regarding 
the theoretical grounds of this belief. 

All religions, with their gods, their demigods, and their 
* prophets, their messiahs and their saints, were created by 
the credulous fancy of men who had not attained the full 
development and full possession of their faculties. Conse 
quently, the religious heaven is nothing but a mirage in 
which man, exalted by ignorance and faith, discovers his 
own image, but enlarged and reversed^ that is, divinized. 
The history of religions, of the birth, grandeur, and decline 
of the gods who have succeeded one another in human be 
lief, is nothing, therefore, but the development of the collec 
tive intelligence and conscience of mankind. As fast as they 
discovered, in the course of their historically progressive 
advance, either in themselves or in external nature, a power, 
a quality, or even any great defect whatever, they attributed 
them to their gods, after having exaggerated and enlarged 
them beyond measure, after the manner of children, by an 



24 GOD AND THE STATE 

act of their religious fancy. Thanks to this modesty and \ 
pious generosity of believing and credulous men, heaven has 
grown rich with the spoils of the earth, and, by a necessary 
consequence, the richer heaven became, the more wretched 
became humanity and the earth. God once installed, he was 
naturally proclaimed the cause, reason, arbiter, and absolute 
disposer of all things: the world thenceforth was nothing, 
God was all ; and man, his real creator, after having un 
knowingly extracted him from the void, bowed down be 
fore him, worshipped him, and avowed himself his creature 
and his slave, 

Christianity is precisely the religion par excellence, be 
cause it exhibits and. manifests, to the fullest extent, the 
very nature and essence of every religious system, which is 
the impoverishment, enslavement, and annihilation of hu 
manity for the benefit of divinity. 

God being everything, the real world and man are noth 
ing. God being truth, justice, goodness, beauty, power, and 
life, man is falsehood, iniquity, evil, ugliness, impotence, and 
death. God being master, man is the slave. Incapable of 
finding justice, truth, and eternal life by his own effort, he 
can attain them only through a divine revelation. But who 
ever says revelation says revealers, messiahs, prophets, 
priests, and legislators inspired by God himself ; and these, 
once recognized as the representatives of divinity on earth, 
as the holy instructors of humanity, chosen by God himself 
to direct it in the path of salvation, necessarily exercise abso 
lute power. All men owe them passive and unlimited obedi 
ence; for against the divine reason there is no human rea 
son, and against the justice of God no terrestrial justice 
holds. Slaves of God, men must also be slaves of Church 
and State, in so far as the State is consecrated by the 
Church. This truth Christianity, better than all other re 
ligions that exist or have existed, understood, not excepting 
even the old Oriental religions, which included only distinct 
and privileged nations, while Christianity aspires to em 
brace entire humanity; and this truth Roman Catholicism, 



GOD AND THE STATE 25 

alone among all the Christian sects, has proclaimed and 
realized with rigorous logic. That is why Christianity is 
the absolute religion, the final religion; why the Apostolic 

and Roman Church is the only consistent, legitimate, and 

divine church. 

With all due respect, then, to the metaphysicians and re 
ligious idealists, philosophers, politicians, or poets: The 
idea of God, implies the abdication of human reason and 
justice; it is the most decisive negation of human liberty, 
and necessarily ends in the enslavement of mankind ,.J?.pth 
in theory and practice. 

"Unless, then, we desire the enslavement and degradation 
of mankind, as the Jesuits desire it, as the momiers, pietists, 
or Protestant Methodists desire it, we may not, must not 
make the slightest concession either to the God of theology 
or to the God of metaphysics. He who, in this mystical 
alphabet, begins with A will inevitably end with Z; he who 
desires to worship God must harbor no childish allusions 
about the matter, but bravely renounce his liberty and hu 
manity. 

If God is, man is a slave ; now, man^can and. .must be 
free; then, God does not exist. 

I defy anyone whomsoever" to avoid this circle; now, 
therefore, let all choose. 

Is it necessary to point out to what extent and in what 
manner religions debase and corrupt the people? They de 
stroy their reason, the principal instrument of human eman 
cipation, and reduce them to imbecility, the essential condi 
tion of their slavery. They dishonor human labor, and make 
it a sign and source of servitude. They kill the idea and 
sentiment of human justice, ever tipping the balance to the 
side of triumphant knaves, privileged objects of divine in 
dulgence. They kill human pride and dignity, protecting 
only the cringing and humble. They stifle in the heart of 
nations every feeling of human fraternity, filling it with 
divine cruelty instead. 

All religions are cruel, all founded on blood; for all 



26 GOD AND THE STATE 

rest principally on the idea of sacrifice that is, on the per 
petual immolation of humanity to the insatiable vengeance 
of divinity. In this bloody mystery man is always the vic 
tim, and the priest a man also, but a man privileged by 
grace is the divine executioner. That explains why the 
priests of all religions, the best, the most humane, the gen 
tlest, almost always have at the bottom of their hearts and, 
if not in their hearts, in their imaginations, in their minds 
(and we know the fearful influence of either on the hearts 
of men) something cruel and sanguinary. 

None know all this better than our illustrious contempo 
rary idealists. They are learned men, who know history by 
heart; and, as they are at the same time living men, great 
souls penetrated with a sincere and profound love for the 
welfare of humanity, they have cursed and branded all 
these misdeeds, all these crimes of religion with an eloquence 
unparalleled. They reject with indignation all solidarity 
with the God of positive religions and with his representa 
tives, past, present, and on earth. 

The God whom they adore, or whom they think they 
adore, is distinguished from the real gods of history pre 
cisely in this that he is not at all a positive god, defined 
in any way whatever, theologically or even metaphysically. 
He is neither the supreme being of Robespierre and J. J. 
Rousseau, nor the pantheistic god of Spinoza, nor even the 
at once immanent, transcendental, and very equivocal god 
of Hegel. They take good care not to give him any positive 
definition whatever, feeling very strongly that any defini 
tion would subject him to the dissolving power of criticism. 
They will not say whether he is a personal or impersonal 
god, whether he created or did not create the world; they 
will not even speak of his divine providence. All that might 
compromise him. They content themselves with saying 
"God" and nothing more. But, then, what is their God? 
Not even an idea ; it is an aspiration. 

It is the generic name of all that seems grand, good, 
beautiful, noble, human to them. But why, then, do they 



GOD AND THE STATE 2J 

not say, "Man." Ah ! because King William of Prussia and 
Napoleon III. and all their compeers are likewise men: 
which bothers them very much. Real humanity presents a 
mixture of all that is most sublime and beautiful with all 
that is vilest and most monstrous in the world. How do 
they get over this ? Why, they call one divine and the other 
bestial, representing divinity and animality as two poles, be 
tween which they place humanity. They either will not or 
cannot understand that these three terms are really but one, 
and that to separate them is to destroy them. 

They are not strong on logic, and one might say that 
they despise it. That is what distinguishes them from the 
pantheistical and deistical metaphysicians, and gives their 
ideas the character of a practical idealism, drawing its in 
spiration much less from the severe development of a 
thought than from the experiences, I might almost say the 
emotions, historical and collective as well as individual, of 
life. This gives their propaganda an appearance of wealth 
and vital power, but an appearance only; for life itself be 
comes sterile when paralyzed by a logical contradiction. 

This contradiction lies here: they wish God, and they 
wish humanity. They persist in connecting two terms which, 
once separated, can come together again only to destroy 
each other. They say in a single breath : "God and the 
liberty of man," "God and the dignity, justice, equality, fra 
ternity, prosperity of men" regardless of the fatal logic by 
virtue of which, if God exists, all these things are con 
demned to non-existence. For, if God is, he is necessarily 
the eternal, supreme, absolute master, and, if such a master 
exists, man is a slave; now, if he is a slave, neither justice, 
nor equality, nor fraternity, nor prosperity are possible for 
him. In vain, flying in the face of good sense and all the 
teachings of history, do they represent their God as ani 
mated by the tenderest love of human liberty : a master, who 
ever he may be and however liberal he may desire to show 
himself, remains none the less always a master. ,,His exist 
ence necessarily implies the slavery of all that is beneath 



28 GOD AND THE STATE 

him. Therefore, if God existed, only in one way could he 
serve human liberty by ceasing to exist. 

A jealous lover of human liberty,- and deeming it the 
absolute condition of all that we admire and respect in hu 
manity, I reverse the phrase of Voltaire, and say mat, if God 
really existed, it would be necessary to abolish him. 

The severe logic that dictates these words is far too evi 
dent to require a development of this argument. And it 
seems to me impossible that the illustrious men, whose names 
so celebrated and so justly respected I have cited, should 
not have been struck by it themselves, and should not have 
perceived the contradiction in which they involve themselves 
in speaking of God and human liberty at once. To have dis 
regarded it, they must have considered this inconsistency 
or logical license practically necessary to humanity s well- 
being. 

Perhaps, too, while speaking of liberty as something 
very respectable and very dear in their eyes, they give the 
term a meaning quite different from the conception enter 
tained by us, materialists and Revolutionary Socialists. In 
deed, they never speak of it without immediately adding an 
other word, authority a word and a thing which we detest 
with all our heart. 

What is authority? Is it the inevitable power of the nat 
ural laws which manifest themselves in the necessary con 
catenation and succession of phenomena in the physical and 
social worlds? Indeed, against these laws revolt is not only 
forbidden it is even impossible. We may misunderstand 
them or not know them at all, but we cannot disobey them ; 
because they constitute the basis and fundamental conditions 
of our existence; they envelop us, penetrate us, regulate all 
our movements, thoughts, and acts; even when we believe 
that we disobey them, we only show their omnipotence. 

Yes, we are absolutely the slaves of these laws. But in 
such slavery there is no humiliation, or, rather, it is not slav 
ery at all. For slavery supposes an external master, a legis 
lator outside of him whom he commands, while these laws 



GOD AND THE STATE 2X) 

are not outside of us ; they are inherent in us ; they constitute 
our being, our whole being, physically, intellectually, and 
morally: we live, we breathe, we act, we think, we wish only 
through these laws. Without them we are nothing, we are 
not. Whence, then, could we derive the power and the 
wish to rebel against them ? 

In his relation to natural laws but one liberty is possible 
to man that of recognizing and applying them on an ever- 
extending scale in conformity with the object of collective 
and individual emancipation or humanization which he pur 
sues. These laws, once recognized, exercise an authority 
which is never disputed by the mass of men. One must, 
for instance, be at bottom either a fool or a theologian or 
at least a metaphysician, jurist, or bourgeois economist to 
rebel against the law by which twice two make four. One 
must (have faith to imagine that fire will not burn nor water 
drown, except, indeed, recourse be had to some subterfuge 
founded in its turn on some other natural law. But these 
revolts, or, rather, these attempts at or foolish fancies of 
an impossible revolt, are decidedly the exception ; for, in gen 
eral, it may be said that the mass of men, in their daily 
lives, acknowledge the government of common sense that 
is, of the sum of the natural laws generally recognized 
in an almost absolute fashion. 

The great misfortune is that a large number of natural 
laws, already established as such by science, remain un 
known to the masses, thanks to the watchfulness of 
these tutelary governments that exist, as we know, only 
for the good of the people. There is another difficulty 
namely, that the major portion of the natural laws con 
nected with the development of human society, which are 
quite as necessary, invariable, fatal, as the laws that govern 
the physical world, have not been duly established and rec 
ognized by science itself. 

Once they shall have been recognized by science, and 
then from science, by means of an extensive system of pop 
ular education and instruction, shall have passed into the 



$D GOD AND THE STATE 

consciousness of all, the question of liberty will be entirely 
solved. The most stubborn authorities must admit that then 
there will be no need either of political organization or di 
rection or legislation, three things which, whether they 
emanate from the will of the sovereign or from the vote of 
a parliament elected by universal suffrage, and even should 
they conform to the system of natural laws which has 
never been the case and never will be the case are always 
equally fatal and hostile to the liberty of the masses from 
the very fact that they impose upon them a system of ex 
ternal and therefore despotic laws. 

The liberty of man consists solely in this : that he obeys 
natural laws because he has himself recognized them as 
such, and not because they have been externally imposed 
upon him by any extrinsic will whatever, divine or human, 
collective or individual. 

Suppose a learned academy, composed of the most illus 
trious representatives of science; suppose this academy 
charged with legislation for and the organization of society, 
and that, inspired only by the purest love of truth, it frames 
none but laws in absolute harmony with the latest dis 
coveries of science. Well, I maintain, for my part, that 
such legislation and such organization would be a monstros 
ity, and that for two reasons: first, that human science is 
always and necessarily imperfect, and that, comparing what 
it has discovered with what remains to be discovered, we 
may say that it is still in its cradle. So that were we to try 
to force the practical life of men, collective as well as in 
dividual, into strict and exclusive conformity with the latest 
data of science, we should condemn society as well as in 
dividuals to suffer martyrdom on a bed of Procrustes, which 
would soon end by dislocating and stifling them, life ever 
remaining an infinitely greater thing than science. 

The second reason is this: a society which should obey 
legislation emanating from a scientific academy, not because 
it understood itself the rational character of this legislation 
(in which case the existence of the academy would become 



GOD AND THE STATE 3! 

useless), but because this legislation, emanating from the 
academy, was imposed in the name of a science which it 
venerated without comprehending such a society would be 
a society, not of men, but of brutes. It would be a second 
edition of those missions in Paraguay which submitted so 
long to the government of the Jesuits. It would surely and 
rapidly descend to the lowest stage of idiocy. 

But there is still a third reason which would render such 
a government impossible namely that a scientific academy 
invested with a sovereignty, so to speak, absolute, even if 
it were composed of the most illustrious men, would in- 
falliby and soon end in its own moral and intellectual cor 
ruption. Even to-day, with the few privileges allowed them, 
such is the history of all academies. The greatest scientific 
genius, from the moment that he becomes an academician, 
an officially licensed savant, inevitably lapses into sluggish 
ness. He loses his spontaneity, his revolutionary hardihood, 
and that troublesome and savage energy characteristic of the 
grandest geniuses, ever called to destroy old tottering worlds 
and lay the foundations of new. He undoubtedly gains in 
politeness, in utilitarian and practical wisdom, what he loses 
in power of thought. In a word, he becomes corrupted. 

It is the characteristic of privilege and of every privi 
leged position to kill the mind and heart of men. The 
privileged man, whether politically or economically, is a man 
depraved in mind and heart. That is a social law which ad 
mits of no exception, and is as applicable to entire nations 
as to classes, corporations, and individuals. It is the law of 
equality, the supreme condition of liberty and humanity. 
The principal object of this treatise is precisely to demon 
strate this truth in all the manifestations of human life. 

A scientific body to which had been confided the gov 
ernment of society would soon end by devoting itself no 
longer to science at all, but to quite another affair ; and that 
affair, as in the case of all established powers, would be its 
own eternal perpetuation by rendering the society confided 



32 GOD AND THE STATE 

to its care ever more stupid and consequently more in need 
of its government and direction. 

But that which is true of scientific academies is also true 
of all constituent and legislative assemblies, even those chosen 
by universal suffrage. In the latter case they may renew 
their composition, it is true, but this does not prevent the 
formation in a few years time of a body of politicians, privi 
leged in fact though not in law, who, devoting themselves 
exclusively to the direction of the public affairs of a coun 
try, finally form a sort of political aristocracy or oligarchy. 
Witness the United States of America and Switzerland. 

Consequently, no external legislation and no authority- 
one, for that matter, being inseparable from the other, and 
both tending to the servitude of society and the degrada 
tion of the legislators themselves. 

Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me 
such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the au 
thority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or rail 
roads, I consult that of the architect or engineer. For sudh 
or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. 
But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor the 
savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them 
freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, 
their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incon 
testable right of criticism and censure. I do not content 
myself with consulting a single authority in any special 
branch; I consult several; I compare their opinions, and 
choose that which seems to me the soundest. But I recog 
nize no infallible authority, even in special questions; con 
sequently, whatever respect I may have for the honesty and 
the sincerity of such or such an individual, I have no abso 
lute faith in any person. Such a faith would be fatal to my 
reason, to my liberty, and even to the success of my under 
takings; it would immediately transform me into a stupid 
slave, an instrument of the will and interests of others. 

If I bow before the authority of the specialists and avow 
my readiness to follow, to a certain extent and as long as 



GOD AND THE STATE 33 

may seem to me necessary, their indications and even their 
directions, it is because their authority is imposed upon me 
by no one, neither by men nor by God. Otherwise I would 
repel them with horror, and bid the devil take their counsels, 
their directions, and their services, certain that they would 
make me pay, by the loss of my liberty and self-respect, for 
such scraps of truth, wrapped in a multitude of lies, as they 
might give me. 

I bow before the authority of special men because it is 
imposed upon me by my own reason. I am conscious of my 
inability to grasp, in all its details and positive develop 
ments, any very large portion of human knowledge. The 
greatest intelligence would not be equal to a comprehension 
of the whole. Thence results, for science as well as for in 
dustry, the necessity of the division and association of labor. 
I receive and I give such is human life. Each directs and 
is directed in his turn. Therefore there is no fixed and con 
stant authority, but a continual exchange of mutual, tempo 
rary, and, above all, voluntary authority and subordination. 

This same reason forbids me, then, to recognize a fixed, 
constant, and universal authority, because there is no uni 
versal man, no man capable of grasping in that wealth of 
detail, without which the application of science to life is 
impossible, all the sciences, all the branches of social life. 
And if such universality could ever be realized in a single 
man, and if he wished to take advantage thereof to impose 
his authority upon us, it would be necessary to drive this 
man out of society, because his authority would inevitably 
reduce all the others to slavery and imbecility. I do not 
think that society ought to maltreat men of genius as it has 
done hitherto ; but neither do I think it should indulge them 
too far, still less accord them any privileges or exclusive 
rights whatsoever ; and that for three reasons : first, because 
it would often mistake a charlatan for a man of genius ; 
second, because, through such a system of privileges, it 
might transform into a charlatan even a real man of genius, 



34 GOD AND THE STATE 

demoralize him, and degrade him; and, finally, because it 
would establish a master over itself. 

To sum up. We recognize, then, the absolute authority 
of science, because the sole object of science is the mental 
reproduction, as well-considered and systematic as possible, 
of the natural laws inherent in the material, intellectual, and 
moral life of both the physical and the social worlds, these 
two worlds constituting, in fact, but one and the same nat 
ural world. Outside of this only legitimate authority, legi 
timate because rational and in harmony with human liberty, 
we declare all-other authorities false, arbitrary and fatal. 

< We recognize the absolute authority of science, but we 
reject the infallibility and universality of the savant. In 
our church if I may be permitted to use for a moment an 
expression which I so detest : Church and State are my two 
betes noires in our church, as in the Protestant church, we 
have a chief, an invisible Christ, science ; and, like the Prot 
estants, more logical even than the Protestants, we will 
suffer neither pope, nor council, nor conclaves of infallible 
cardinals, nor bishops, nor even priests. Our Christ differs 
from the Protestant and Christian Christ in this that the 
latter is a personal being, ours impersonal ; the Christian 
Christ, already completed in an eternal past, presents him 
self as a perfect being, while the completion and perfection 
of our Christ, science, are ever in the future: which is 
equivalent to saying that they will never be realized. There 
fore, in recognizing absolute science as the only absolute 
authority, we in no way compromise our liberty. 

I mean by the words "absolute science," the truly uni 
versal science which would reproduce ideally, to its fullest 
extent and in all its infinite detail, the universe, the system 
or co-ordination of all the natural laws manifested by the 
incessant development of the world. It is evident that such 
a science, the sublime object of all the efforts of the human 
mind, will never be fully and absolutely realized. Our 
Christ, then, will remain eternally unfinished, which must 
considerably take down the pride of his licensed represen- 



GOD AND THE STATE 35 

tatives among us. Against that God the Son in whose name 
they assume to impose upon us their insolent and pedantic 
authority, we appeal to God the Father, who is the real 
world, real life, of which he (the Son) is only a too imper 
fect expression, whilst we real beings, living, working, strug 
gling, loving, aspiring, enjoying, and suffering, are its im 
mediate representatives. 

But, while rejecting the absolute, universal, and infallible 
authority of men of science, we willingly bow before the 
respectable, although relative, quite temporary, and very re 
stricted authority of the representatives of special sciences, 
asking nothing better than to consult them by turns, and 
very grateful for such precious information as they may 
extend to us, on condition of their willingness to receive 
from us on occasions when, and concerning matters about 
which, we are more learned than they. In general, we ask 
nothing better than to see men endowed with great knowl 
edge, great experience, great minds, and, above all, great 
hearts, exercise over us a natural and legitimate influence, 
freely accepted, and never imposed in the name of any offi 
cial authority whatsoever, celestial or terrestrial. We ac 
cept all natural authorities and all influences of fact, but 
none of right; for every authority or every influence of 
right, officially imposed as such, becoming directly an op 
pression and a falsehood, would inevitably impose upon us, 
as I believe I have sufficiently shown, slavery and absurdity. 

In a word, we reject all legislation, all authority, and all 
privileged, licensed, official, and leeal influence, even though 
arising from universal suffrage, convinced that it can turn 
only to the advantage of a dominant minority of exploiters 
against the interests of the immense majority in subjection 
to them. 

This is the sense in which we are really Anarchists. 

The modern idealists understand authority in quite a 
different way. Although free from the traditional supersti 
tions of all the existing positive religions, they nevertheless 
attach to this idea of authority a divine, an absolute mean- 



GOD AND THE STATE 

ing. This authority is not that of a truth miraculously re 
vealed, nor that of a truth rigorously and scientifically dem 
onstrated. They base it to a slight extent upon quasi-philo 
sophical reasoning, and to a large extent on vaguely religious 
faith, to a large extent also on sentiment, ideally, abstractly 
poetical. Their religion is, as it were, a last attempt to 
divinize all that constitutes humanity in men. 

This is just the opposite of the work that we are doing. 
In behalf of human liberty, dignity, and prosperity, we be 
lieve it our duty to recover from heaven the goods which it 
has stolen and return them to earth. They, on the contrary, 
endeavoring to commit a final religiously heroic larceny, 
would restore to heaven, that divine robber, finally un 
masked, the grandest, finest, and noblest of humanity s pos 
sessions. It is now the freethinkers turn to pillage heaven 
by their audacious impiety and scientific analysis. 

The idealists undoubtedly believe that human ideas and 
deeds, in order to exercise greater authority among men, 
must be invested with a divine sanction. How is this sanc 
tion manifested? Not by a miracle, as in the positive re 
ligions, but by the very grandeur or sanctity of the ideas 
and deeds : whatever is grand, whatever is beautiful, what 
ever is noble, whatever is just, is considered divine. In this 
new religious cult every man inspired by these ideas, by 
these deeds, becomes a priest, directly consecrated by God 
himself. And the proof? He needs none beyond the very 
grandeur of the ideas which he expresses and the deeds 
which he performs. These are so holy that they can have 
been inspired only by God. 

Such, in few words, is their whole philosophy : a philos 
ophy of sentiments, not of real thoughts, a sort of meta 
physical pietism. This seems harmless, but it is not so at 
all, and the very precise, very narrow, and very barren doc 
trine hidden under the intangible vagueness of these poetic 
forms leads to the same disastrous results that all the posi 
tive religions lead to namely, the most complete negation 
of human liberty and dignity. 



GOD AND THE STATE 37 

To proclaim as divine all that is grand, just, noble, and 
beautiful in humanity is to tacitly admit that humanity of 
itself would have been unable to produce it that is, that, 
abandoned to itself, its own nature is miserable, iniquitous, 
base, and ugly. Thus we come back to the essence of all re 
ligion in other words, to the disparagement of humanity 
for the greater glory of divinity. And from the moment 
that the natural inferiority of man and his fundamental in 
capacity to rise by his own effort, unaided by any divine 
inspiration, to the comprehension of just and true ideas, are 
admitted, it becomes necessary to admit also all the theo 
logical, political, and social consequences of the positive re 
ligions. From the moment that God, the perfect and su 
preme being, is posited face to face with humanity, divine 
mediators, the elect, the inspired of God spring from the 
earth to enlighten, direct, and govern in his name the human 
race. 

May we not suppose that all men are equally inspired by 
God? Then, surely, there is no further use for mediators. 
But this supposition is impossible, because it is too clearly 
contradicted by the facts. It would compel us to attribute to 
divine inspiration all the absurdities and errors which ap 
pear, and all the horrors, follies, base deeds, and cowardly 
actions which are committed, in the world. But perhaps, 
then, only a few men are divinely inspired, the great men 
of history, the virtuous geniuses, as the illustrious Italian 
citizen and prophet, Giuseppe Mazzini, called them. Imme 
diately inspired by God himself and supported upon univer 
sal consent expressed by popular suffrage Dio e Popolo 
such as these should be called to the government of human 
societies.* 

But here we are again fallen back under the yoke of 

*In London I once heard M. Louis Blanc express almost the 
same idea. "The best form of government," said he to me, "would 
be that which would invariably call men of virtuous genius to the 
control of affairs." 



GOD AND THE STATE 

Church and State. It is true that in this new organization, 
indebted for its existence, like all the old political organiza 
tions, to the grace of God, but supported this time at least 
so far as form is concerned, as a necessary concession to 
the spirit of modern times, and just as in the preambles of 
the imperial decrees of Napoleon III. on the (pretended) 
will of the people, the Church will no longer call itself 
Church; it will call itself School. What matters it? On the 
benches of this School will be seated not children only; 
there will be found the eternal minor, the pupil confessedly 
forever incompetent to pass his examinations, rise to the 
knowledge of his teachers, and dispense with their discipline 
the people.* The State will no longer call itself Mon- 

*One day I asked Mazzini what measures would be taken for 
the emancipation of the people, once his triumphant unitary re 
public had been definitely established. "The first measure," he 
answered, "will be the foundation of schools for the people." "And 
what will the people be taught in these schools?" "The duties of 
man sacrifice and devotion." But where will you find a sufficient 
number of professors to teach these things, which no one has 
the right or power to teach, unless he preaches by example? Is 
not the number of men who find supreme enjoyment in sacrifice 
and devotion exceedingly limited? Those who sacrifice themselyes 
in the service of a great idea obey a lofty passion, and, satisfying 
this personal passion, outside of which life itself loses all value in 
their eyes, they generally think of something else than building their 
action into doctrine, while those who teach doctrine usually forget 
to translate it into action, for the simple reason that doctrine kills 
the life, the living spontaneity, of action. Men like Mazzini, in 
whom doctrine and action form an admirable unity, are very rare 
exceptions. In Christianity also there have been great men, holy 
men, who have really practised, or who, at least, have passionately 
tried to practice all that they preached, and whose hearts, overflowing 
with love, were full of contempt for the pleasures and goods of 
this world. But the immense majority of Catholic and Protestant 
priests who, by trade, have preached and still preach the doctrines 
of chastity, abstinence, and renunciation belie their teachings by 
their example. It is not without reason, but because of several 
centuries experience, that among the people of all countries these 
phrases have become by-words : As licentious as a priest; as glut 
tonous as a priest; as ambitious as a priest; as greedy, selfish, and 



GOD AND THE STATE 39 

archy; it will call itself Republic: but it will be none f he 
less the State that is, a tutelage officially and regularly es 
tablished by a minority of competent men, men of virtuous 
genius or talent, who will watch and guide the conduct of 
this great, incorrigible, and terrible child, the people. The 
professors of the School and the functionaries of the State 
will call themselves republicans; but they will be none the 
less tutors, shepherds, and the people will remain what they 
have been hitherto from all eternity, a flock. Beware of 
shearers, for where there is a flock there necessarily must 
be shepherds also to shear and devour it. 

The people, in this system, will be the perpetual scholar 
and pupil. In spite of its sovereignty, wholly fictitious, it 

grasping as a priest. It is, then, established that the professors of 
the Christian virtues, consecrated by the Church, the priests, in 
the immense majority of cases, have practised quite the contrary of 
what they have preached. This very majority, the universality of 
this fact, show that the fault is not to be attributed to them as in 
dividuals, but to the social position, impossible and contradictory 
in itself, in which these individuals are placed. The position of 
the Christian priest involves a double contradiction. "" In the first 
place, that between the doctrine of abstinence and renunciation and 
the positive tendencies and needs of human nature tendencies and 
needs which, in some individual cases, always very rare, may indeed 
be continually held back, suppressed, and even entirely annihilated 
by the constant influence of some potent intellectual and moral 
passion; which at certain moments of collective exaltation, may be 
forgotten and neglected for some time by a large mass of men at 
once; but which are so fundamentally inherent in our nature that 
sooner or later they always resume their rights : so that, when they 
are not satisfied in a regular and normal way, they are always re 
placed at last by unwholesome and monstrous satisfaction. This 
is a natural and consequently fatal and irresistible law, under the 
disastrous action of which inevitably fall all Christian priests and 
especially those of the Roman Catholic Church. It cannot apply to 
the professors, that is to the priests of the modern Church, unless 
they are also obliged to preach Christian abstinence and renunciation. 
But there is another contradiction common to the priests of both 
sects. This contradiction grows out of the very title and position 
of master. A master who commands, oppresses, and exploits is a 
wholly logical and quite natural personage. But a master who 



4O GOD AND THE STATE 

will continue to serve as the instrument of thoughts, wills, 
and consequently interests not its own. Between this situa 
tion and what we call liberty, the only real liberty, there is 
an abyss. It will be the old oppression and old slavery 
under new forms ; and where there is slavery there is misery, 
brutishness, real social materialism, among the privileged 
classes as well as among the masses. 

In deifying human things the idealists always end in the 
triumph of a brutal materialism. And this for a very simple 
reason: the divine evaporates and rises to its own country, 
heaven, while the brutal alone remains actually on earth. 

Yes, the necessary consequence of theoretical idealism is 

sacrifices himself to those who are subordinated to him by his 
divine or human privilege is a contradictory and quite impossible 
being. This is the very constitution of hypocrisy, so well personified 
by the Pope, who, while calling himself the lowest servant of the 
servants of God in token whereof, following the example of Christ, 
he even washes once a year the feet of twelve Roman beggars 
proclaims himself at the same time vicar of God, absolute and in 
fallible master of the world. Do I need to recall that the priests 
of all churches, far from sacrificing themselves to the flocks con 
fided to their care, have always sacrificed them, exploited them, 
and kept them in the condition of a flock, partly to satisfy their 
own personal passions and partly to serve the omnipotence of the 
Church? Like conditions, like causes, always produce like effects. 
It will, then, be the same with the professors of the modern School 
divinely inspired and licensed by the State. They will necessarily 
become, some without knowing it, others with full knowledge of the 
cause, teachers of the doctrine of popular sacrifice to the power of 
the State and to the profit of the privileged classes. 

Must we, then, eliminate from society all instruction and abolish 
all schools? Far from it! Instruction must be spread among the 
masses without stint, transforming all the churches, all those temples 
dedicated to the glory of God and to the slavery of men, into so 
many schools of human emancipation. But, in the first place, let 
us understand each other; schools, properly speaking, in a normal 
society founded on equality and on respect for human liberty, will 
exist only for children and not for adults ; and, in order that they 
may become schools of emancipation and not of enslavement, it 
will be necessary to eliminate, first of all, this fiction of God, the 
eternal and absolute enslaver. The whole education of children 



GOD AND THE STATE 4! 

practically the most brutal materialism; not, undoubtedly, 
among those who sincerely preach it the usual result as 
far as they are concerned being- that they are constrained to 
see all their efforts struck with sterility but among those 
who try to realize their precepts in life, and in all society 
so far as it allows itself to be dominated by idealistic doc 
trines. 

To demonstrate this general fact, which may appear 
strange at first, but which explains itself naturally enough 
upon further reflection, historical proofs are not lacking. 

Compare the last two civilizations of the ancient world 
the Greek and the Roman. Which is the most materialistic, 

and their instruction must be founded on the scientific development 
of "reason, not on that of faith; on the development of personal 
dignity and independence, not on that of piety and obedience; on 
the worship of truth and justice at any cost, and above all on 
respect for humanity, which must replace always and everywhere 
the worship of divinity. The principle of authority, in the educa 
tion of children, constitutes the natural point of departure; it is 
legitimate, necessary, when applied to children of a tender age, 
whose intelligence has not yet openly developed itself. But as the 
development of everything, and consequently of education, implies 
the gradual negation of the point of departure, this principle must 
diminish as fast as education and instruction advance, giving place 
to increasing liberty. All rational education is at bottom nothing 
but this progressive immolation of authority for the benefit of 
liberty, the final object of education necessarily being the formation 
of free men full of respect and love for the liberty of others. 
Therefore the first day of the pupils life, if the school takes in 
fants scarcely able as yet to stammer a few words, should be that 
of the greatest authority and an almost entire absence of liberty; 
but its last day should be that of the greatest liberty and the ab 
solute abolition of every vestige of the animal or divine principle of 
authority. 

The principle of authority, applied to men who have surpassed 
or attained their majority, becomes a monstrosity, a flagrant 
denial of humanity, a source of slavery and intellectual and moral 
depravity. Unfortunately, paternal governments have left the 
masses to wallow in an ignorance so profound that it will be 
necessary to establish schools not only for the people s children, but 
for the people themselves. From these schools will be absolutely 



4 s GOD AND THE STATE 

the most natural, in its point of departure, and the most hu 
manly ideal in its results? Undoubtedly the Greek civiliza 
tion. Which on the contrary, is the most abstractly ideal in 
its point of departure sacrificing the material liberty of 
the man to the ideal liberty of the citizen, represented by 
the abstraction of judicial law, and the natural development 
of human society to the abstraction of the State and which 
became nevertheless the most brutal in its consequences? 
The Roman civilization, certainly. It is true that the Greek 
civilization, like all the ancient civilizations, including that 
of Rome, was exclusively national and based on slavery. 
But, in spite of these two immense defects, the former none 

eliminated the smallest applications or manifestations of the princi 
ple of authority. They will be schools no longer; they will be 
popular academies, in which neither pupils nor masters will be 
known, where the people will come freely to get, if they need it, 
free instruction, and in which, rich in their own experience, they 
will teach in their turn many things to the professors who shall 
bring them knowledge which they lack. This, then, will be a 
mutual instruction, an act of intellectual fraternity between the 
educated youth and the people. 

The real school for the people and for all grown men is life. 
The only grand and omnipotent authority, at once natural and 
rational, the only one which we may respect, will be that of the 
collective and public spirit of a society founded on equality and 
solidarity and the mutual human respect of all its members. Yes, 
this is an authority which is not at all divine, wholly human, but 
before which we shall bow willingly, certain that, far from en 
slaving them, it will emancipate men. It will be a thousand times 
more powerful, be sure of it, than all your divine, theological, 
metaphysical, political, and judicial authorities, established by the 
Church and by the State; more powerful than your criminal codes, 
your jailers, and your executioners. 

The power of collective sentiment or public spirit is even now 
a very serious matter. The men most ready to commit crimes 
rarely dare to defy it, to openly affront it. They will seek to de 
ceive it, but will take care not to be rude with it unless they feel 
the support of a minority larger or smaller. No man, however 
powerful he believes himself, will ever have the strength to bear 
the unanimous contempt of society; no one can live without feeling 
himself sustained by the approval and esteem of at least some 



GOD AND THE STATE 43 

the less conceived and realized the idea of humanity; it 
ennobled and really idealized the life of men ; it transformed 
human herds into free associations of free men; it created 
through liberty the sciences, the arts, a poetry, an immortal 
philosophy, and the primary concepts of human respect. 
With political and social liberty, it created free thought. 
At the close of the Middle Ages, during the period of the 
Renaissance, the fact that some Greek emigrants brought a 
few of those immortal books into Italy sufficed to resusci 
tate life, liberty, thought, humanity, buried in the dark dun 
geon of Catholicism. Human emancipation, that is the name 
of the Greek civilization. And the name of the Roman 
civilization? Conquest, with all its brutal consequences. 

portion of society. A man must be urged on by an immense and 
very sincere conviction in order to find courage to speak and act 
against the opinion of all, and never will a selfish, depraved, and 
cowardly man have such courage. 

Nothing proves more clearly than this fact the natural and 
inevitable solidarity this law of sociability which binds all men 
together, as each of us can verify daily, both on himself and on all 
the men whom he knows. But, if this social power exists, why 
has it not sufficed hitherto to moralize, to humanize men? Simply 
because hitherto this power has not been humanized itself; it has 
not been humanized because the social life of which it is ever the 
faithful expression is based, as we know, on the worship of divinity, 
not on respect for humanity; on authority, not on liberty; on 
privilege, not on equality; on the exploitation, not on the brother 
hood of men; on iniquity and falsehood, not on justice and truth. 
Consequently its real action, always in contradiction of the humani 
tarian theories which it professes, has constantly exercised a dis 
astrous and depraving influence. It does not repress vices and 
crimes; it creates them. Its authority is consequently a di\ine, 
anti-human authority; its influence is mischievous and baleful. Do 
you wish to render its authority and influence beneficent and 
human ? Achieve the social revolution. Make all needs really solidary, 
and cause the material and social interests of each to conform to 
the human duties of each. And to this end there is but one means : 
Destroy all the institutions of Inequality; establish the economic 
and social equality of all, and on this basis will arise the liberty, 
the morality, the solidary humanity of all. 

I shall return to this, the most important question of Socialism. 



44 GOD AND THE STATE 

And its last word ? The omnipotence of the Caesars. Which 
means the degradation and enslavement of nations and of 
men. 

To-day even, what is it that kills, what is it that crushes 
brutally, materially, in all European countries, liberty and 
humanity? It is the triumph of the Caesarian or Roman 
principle. 

Compare now two modern civilizations the Italian and 
the German. The first undoubtedly represents, in its general 
character, materialism; the second, on the contrary, repre 
sents idealism in its most abstract, most pure, and most 
transcendental form. Let us see what are the practical 
fruits of the one and the other. 

Italy has already rendered immense services to the cause 
of human emancipation. She was the first to resuscitate 
and widely apply the principle of liberty in Europe, and to 
restore to humanity its titles to nobility: industry, com 
merce, poetry, the arts, the positive sciences, and free 
thought. Crushed since by three centuries of imperial and 
papal despotism, and dragged in the mud by her governing 
bourgeoisie, she reappears to-day, it is true, in a very de 
graded condition in comparison with what she once was. 
And yet how much she differs from Germany ! In Italy, in 
spite of this decline temporary let us hope one may live 
and breathe humanly, surrounded by a people which seems 
to be born for liberty. Italy, even bourgeois Italy, can 
point with pride to men like Mazzini and Garibaldi. 
In Germany one breathes the atmosphere of an immense 
political and social slavery, philosophically explained and ac 
cepted by a great people with deliberate resignation and 
free will. Her heroes I speak always of present Germany, 
not of the Germany of the future; of aristocratic, bureau 
cratic, political and bourgeoise Germany, not of the Ger 
many of the proletaires her heroes are quite the opposite 
of Mazzini and Garibaldi : they are William I., that fero 
cious and ingenuous representative of the Protestant God, 
Messrs, Bismarck and Moltke, Generals Manteuffel and 



GOD AND THE STATE 45 

Werder. In all her international relations Germany, from 
the beginning of her existence, has been slowly, systemati 
cally invading, conquering, ever ready to extend her own 
voluntary enslavement into the territory of her neighbors; 
and, since her definitive establishment as a unitary power, 
she has become a menace, a danger to the liberty of entire 
Europe. To-day Germany is servility brutal and triumphant. 
To show how theoretical idealism incessantly and inevit 
ably changes into practical materialism, one needs only to 
cite the example of all the Christian Churches, and, nat 
urally, first of all, that of the Apostolic and Roman Church. 
What is there more sublime, in the ideal sense, more dis 
interested, more separate from all the interests of this earth, 
than the doctrine of Christ preached by that Church? And 
what is there more brutally materialistic than the constant 
practice of that same Church since the eighth century, from 
which dates her definitive establishment as a power? What 
has been and still is the principal object of all her contests 
with the sovereigns of Europe? Her temporal goods, her 
revenues first, and then her temporal power, her political 
privileges. We must do her the justice to acknowledge that 
she was the first to discover, in modern history, this incon 
testable but scarcely Christian truth that wealth and power, 
the economic exploitation and the political oppression of the 
masses, are the two inseparable terms of the reign of divine 
ideality on earth : wealth consolidating and augmenting 
power, power ever discovering and creating new sources of 
wealth, and both assuring, better than the martyrdom and 
faith of the apostles, better than divine grace, the success 
of the Christian, propagandism. This is a historical truth, 
and the Protestant Churches do not fail to recognize it either. 
I speak, of course, of the independent churches of England, 
America, and Switzerland, not of the subjected churches 
of Germany. The latter have no initiative of their own; 
they do what their masters, their temporal sovereigns, who 
are at the same time thejr spiritual chieftains, order them to 
do, It is well known that the Protestant propagandism, 



46 GOD AND THE STATE 

especially in England and America, is very intimately con 
nected with the propagandism of the material, commercial 
interests of those two great nations; and it is known also 
that the objects of the latter propagandism is not at all the 
enrichment and material prosperity of the countries into 
which it penetrates in company with the Word of God, but 
rather the exploitation of those countries with a view to the 
enrichment and material prosperity of certain classes, which 
in their own country are very covetous and very pious at 
the same time. 

In a word, it is not at all difficult to prove, history in 
hand, that the Church, that all the Churches, Christian and 
non-Christian, by the side of their spiritualistic propa 
gandism, and probably to accelerate and consolidate the suc 
cess thereof, have never neglected to organize themselves 
into great corporations for the economic exploitation of the 
masses under the protection and with the direct and special 
blessing of some divinity or other ; that all the States, which 
originally, as we know, with all their political and judicial 
institutions and their dominant and privileged classes, have 
been only temporal branches of these various Churches,, 
have likewise had principally in view this same exploitation 
for the benefit of lay minorities indirectly sanctioned by the 
Church ; finally and in general, that the action of the good 
God and of all the divine idealities on earth has ended at 
last, always and everywhere, in founding the prosperous ma 
terialism of the few over the fanatical and constantly fam 
ishing idealism of the masses. 

We have a new proof of this in what we see to-day. 
With the exception of the great hearts and great minds 
whom I have before referred to as misled, who are to-day 
the most obstinate defenders of idealism? In the first place, 
all the sovereign courts. In France, until lately, Napoleon 
III. and his wife, Madame Eugenie; all their former min 
isters, courtiers, and ex-marshals, from Rouher and Bazaine 
to Fleury and Pietri; the men and women of this imperial 
world, who have so completely idealized and saved France; 



GOD AND THE STATE 47 

their journalists and their savants the Cassagnacs, the 
Girardins, the Duvernois, the Veuillots, the Leverriers, the 
Dumas; the black phalanx of Jesuits and Jesuitesses in 
every garb; the whole upper and middle bourgeoisie of 
France; the doctrinaire liberals, and the liberals without 
doctrine the Guizots, the Thiers, the Jules Favres, the Pel- 
letans, and the Jules Simons, all obstinate defenders of the 
bourgeoise exploitation. In Prussia, in Germany, William 
L, the present royal demonstrator of the good God on earth ; 
all his generals, all his officers, Pomeranian and other; all 
his army, which, strong in its religious faith, has just con 
quered France in that ideal way we know so well. In Russia, 
the Czar and his court; the MouraviefTs and the Bergs, all 
the butchers and pious proselyters of Poland. Everywhere, 
in short, religious or philosophical idealism, the one being 
but the more or less free translation of the other, serves 
to-day as the flag of material, bloody, and brutal force, of 
shameless material exploitation; while, on the contrary, the 
flag of theoretical materialism, the red flag of economic 
equality and social justice, is raised by the practical idealism 
of the oppressed and famishing masses, tending to realize 
the greatest liberty and the human right of each in the 
fraternity of all men on the earth. 

Who are the real idealists the idealists not of abstrac 
tion, but of life, not of heaven, but of earth and who are 
the materialists? 

It is evident that the essential condition of theoretical or 
divine idealism is the sacrifice of logic, of human reason, the 
renunciation of science. We see, further, that in defending 
the doctrines of idealism one finds himself enlisted perforce 
in the ranks of the oppressors and exploiters of the 
masses. These are two great reasons which, it would seem, 
should be sufficient to drive every great mind, every great 
heart, from idealism. How does it happen, that our illus 
trious contemporary idealists, who certainly lack neither 
mind, nor heart, nor good will, and who have devoted their 
entire existence to the service of humanity how does it 



48 GOD AND THE STATE 

happen that they persist in remaining among the representa 
tives of a doctrine henceforth condemned and dishonored? 

They must be influenced by a very powerful motive. It 
cannot be logic or science, since logic and science have pro 
nounced their verdict against the idealistic doctrine. No 
more can it be personal interests, since these men are in 
finitely above everything of that sort. It must, then, be a 
powerful moral motive. Which? There can be but one. 
These illustrious men think, no doubt, that idealistic theories 
or beliefs are essentially necessary to the moral dignity and 
grandeur of man, and that materialistic theories, on the con 
trary, reduce him to the level of the beasts. 

And if the truth were just the opposite! 

Every development, I have said, implies the negation of 
its point of departure. The basis or point of departure, ac 
cording to the materialistic school, being material, the ne 
gation must be necessarily ideal. Starting from the totality 
of the real world, or from what is abstractly called matter, 
it logically arrives at the real idealization that is, at the 
humanization, at the full and complete emancipation of so 
ciety. Per contra and for the same reason, the basis and 
point of departure of the idealistic school being ideal, it ar 
rives necessarily at the materialization of society, at the or 
ganization of a brutal despotism and an iniquitous and 
ignoble exploitation, under the form of Church and State. 
The historical development of man according to the ma 
terialistic school, is a progressive ascension ; in the idealistic 
system it can be nothing but a continuous fall. 

Whatever human question we may desire to consider, we 
always find this same essential contradiction between the two 
schools. Thus, as I have already observed, materialism 
starts from animality to establish humanity ; idealism starts 
from divinity to establish slavery and condemn the masses 
to an endless animality. Materialism denies free will and 
ends in the establishment of liberty ; idealism, in the name 
of human dignity, proclaims free will, and on the ruins of 
every liberty founds authority. Materialism rejects the 



GOD AND THE STATE 49 

principle of authority, because it rightly considers it as the 
corollary of animality, and because, on the contrary, the 
triumph of humanity, the object and chief significance of 
history, can be realized only through liberty. In a word, 
you will always find the idealistsjq .the vp.r.)L.acLQfjgractical 
materialism, while, you will see the materialists pursuing and 
realizing the most grandly ideal aspirations and thoughts. 

History, in the system of the idealists, as I have said, 
can be nothing but a continuous fall. They begin by a ter 
rible fall, from which they never recover by the salto mor- 
tale from the sublime regions of pure and absolute idea into 
matter. And into what kind of matter ! Not into the matter 
which is eternally active and mobile, full of properties and 
forces, of life and intelligence, as we see it in the real world; 
but into abstract matter, impoverished and reduced to abso 
lute misery by the regular looting of these Prussians of 
thought, the theologians and metaphysicians, who have 
stripped it of everything to give everything to their emperor, 
to their God; into the matter which, deprived of all action 
and movement of its own, represents, in opposition to the 
divine idea, nothing but absolute stupidity, impenetrability, 
inertia and immobility. 

The fall is so terrible that divinity, the divine person or 
idea, is flattened out, loses consciousness of itself, and never 
more recovers it. And in this desperate situation it is still 
forced to work miracles ! For from the moment that matter 
becomes inert, every movement that takes place in the world, 
even the most material, is a miracle, can result only from a 
providential intervention, from the action of God upon 
matter. And there this poor Divinity, degraded and half 
annihilated by its fall, lies some thousands of centuries in 
this swoon, then awakens slowly, in vain endeavoring to 
grasp some vague memory of itself, and every move that it 
makes in this direction upon matter becomes a creation, a 
new formation, a new miracle. In this way it passes through 
all degrees of materiality and bestiality first, gas, simple or 
compound chemical substance, mineral, it then spreads over 



5O GOD AND THE STATE 

the earth as vegetable and animal organization till it con 
centrates itself in man. Here it would seem as if it must 
become itself again, for it lights in every human being an 
angelic spark, a particle of its own divine being, the im 
mortal soul. 

How did it manage to lodge a thing absolutely imma 
terial in a thing absolutely material ; how can the body con 
tain, enclose, limit, paralyze pure spirit? This, again, is one 
of those questions which faith alone, that passionate and 
stupid affirmation of the absurd, can solve. It is the great 
est of miracles. Here, however, we have only to establish 
the effects, the practical consequences of this miracle. 

After thousands of centuries of vain efforts to come back 
to itself, Divinity, lost and scattered in the matter which it 
animates and sets in motion, finds a point of support, a sort 
of focus for self -concentration. This focus is man, his im 
mortal soul singularly imprisoned in a mortal body. But 
each man considered individually is infinitely too limited, too 
small, to enclose the divine immensity ; it can contain only a 
very small particle, immortal like the whole, but infinitely 
smaller than the whole. It follows that the divine being, 
the absolutely immaterial being, mind, is divisible like matter. 
Another mystery whose solution must be left to faith. 

If God entire could find lodgment in each man, then each 
man would be God. We should have an immense quantity 
of Gods, each limited by all the others and yet none the less 
infinite a contradiction which would imply a mutual de 
struction of men, an impossibility of the existence of more 
than one. As for the particles, that is another matter ; noth 
ing more rational, indeed, than that one particle should be 
limited by another and be smaller than the whole. Only, 
here another contradiction confronts us. To be limited, to 
be greater and smaller are attributes of matter, not of mind. 
According to the materialists, it is true, mind is only the 
working of the wholly material organism of man, and the 
greatness or smallness of mind depends absolutely on the 
greater or less material perfection of the human organism. 



GOD AND THE STATE 51 

But these same attributes of relative limitation and grandeur 
cannot be attributed to mind as the idealists conceive it, abso 
lutely immaterial mind, mind existing independent of mat 
ter. There can be neither greater nor smaller nor any limit 
among minds, for there is only one mind God. To add 
that the infinitely small and limited particles which consti 
tute human souls are at the same time immortal is to carry 
the contradiction to a climax. But this is a question of 
faith. Let us pass on. 

Here then we have Divinity torn up and lodged, in in 
finitely small particles, in an immense number of beings of 
all sexes, ages, races, and colors. This is an excessively in 
convenient and unhappy situation, for the divine particles 
are so little acquainted with each other at the outset of their 
human existence that they begin by devouring each other. 
Moreover, in the midst of this state of barbarism and wholly 
animal brutality, these divine particles, human souls, retain 
as it were a vague remembrance of their primitive divinity, 
and are irresistibly drawn towards their whole; they seek 
each other, they seek their whole. It is Divinity itself, scat 
tered and lost in the natural world, which looks for itself 
in men, and it is so demolished by this multitude of human 
prisons in which it finds itself strewn, that, in looking for 
itself, it commits folly after folly. 

Beginning with fetichism, it searches for and adores it 
self, now in a stone, now in a piece of wood, now in a rag. 
It is quite likely that it would never have succeeded in get 
ting out of the rag, if the other divinity which was not al 
lowed to fall into matter and which is kept in a state of pure 
spirit in the sublime heights of the absolute ideal, or in the 
celestial regions, had not had pity on it. 

Here is a new mystery mat of Divinity dividing itself 
into two halves, both equally infinite, of which one God 
the Father stays in the purely immaterial regions, and the 
other God the Son falls into matter. We shall see di 
rectly, between these two Divinities separated from each 
c Qtber, continuous relations established, from above to below 



52 GOD AND THE STATE 

and from below to above ; and these relations, considered as 
a single eternal and constant act, will constitute the Holy 
Ghost. Such, in its veritable theological and metaphysical 
meaning, is the great, the terrible mystery of the Christian 
Trinity. 

But let us lose no time in abandoning these heights to 
see what is going on upon earth. 

God the Father, seeing from the height of his eternal 
splendor that the poor God the Son, flattened out and 
astounded by his fall, is so plunged and lost in matter that 
even having reached human state he has not yet recovered 
himself, decides to come to his aid. From this immense 
number of particles at once immortal, divine, and infinitely 
small, in which God the Son has disseminated himself so 
thoroughly that he does not know himself, God the Father 
chooses those most pleasing to him, picks his inspired per 
sons, his prophets, his "men of virtuous genius," the great 
benefactors and legislators of humanity: Zoroaster, Buddha, 
Moses, Confucius, Lycurgus, Solon, Socrates, the divine 
Plato, and above all Jesus Christ, the complete realization 
of God the Son, at last collected and concentrated in a single 
human person ; all the apostles, Saint Peter, Saint Paul, and 
Saint John before all, Constantine the Great, Mahomet, 
then Charlemagne, Gregory VII. , Dante, and, according to 
some, Luther also, Voltaire and Rousseau, Robespierre and 
Danton, and many other great and holy historical personages, 
all of whose names it is impossible to recapitulate, but among 
whom I, as a Russian, beg that Saint Nicholas may not be 
forgotten. 

Then we have reached at last the manifestation of God 
upon earth. But immediately God appears, man is reduced 
to nothing. It will be said that he is not reduced to noth 
ing, since he is himself a particle of God. Pardon me! I 
admit that a particle of a definite, limited whole, however 
small it be, is a quantity, a positive greatness. But a particle 
of the infinitely great, compared with it, is necessarily in 
finitely small. Multiply milliards of milliards by milliards 



GOD AND THE STATE 53 

of milliards their product compared to the innitely great, 
will be infinitely small, and the infinitely small is equal to 
zero. God is everything; therefore man and all the real 
world with him, the universe, are nothing. You will not 
escape this conclusion. 

God appears, man is reduced to nothing; and the greater 
Divinity becomes, the more miserable becomes humanity. 
That is the history of all religions ; that is the effect of all 
the divine inspirations and legislations. In history the name 
of God is the terrible club with which all divinely inspired 
men, the great "virtuous geniuses," have beaten down the 
liberty, dignity, reason, and prosperity of man. 

We had first the fall of God. Now we have a fall which 
interests us more that of man, caused solely by the appari 
tion of God manifested on earth. 

See in how profound an error our dear and illustrious 
idealists find themselves. In talking to us of God they pur 
pose, they desire, to elevate us, emancipate us, ennoble us, 
and, on the contrary, they crush and degrade us. With the 
name of God they imagine that they can establish fraternity 
among men, and, on the contrary, they create pride, con 
tempt; they sow discord, hatred, war; they establish slavery. 
For with God come the different degrees of divine inspira 
tion; humanity is divided into men highly inspired, less in 
spired, uninspired. All are equally insignificant before God, 
it is true ; but, compared with each other, some are greater 
than others ; not only in fact which would be of no conse 
quence, because inequality in fact is lost in the collectivity 
when it cannot cling to some legal fiction or institution 
but by the divine right of inspiration, which immediately es 
tablishes a fixed, constant, petrifying inequality. The highly 
inspired must be listened to and obeyed by the less inspired, 
and the less inspired by the uninspired. Thus we have the 
principle of authority well established, and with it the two 
fundamental institutions of slavery: Church and State. 

Of all despotisms that of the doctrinaires or inspired re 
ligionists is the worst. They are so jealous of the glory of 



54 GOD AND THE STATE 

their God and of the triumph of their idea that they have 
no heart left for the liberty or the dignity or even the suffer 
ings of living men, of real men. Divine zeal, preoccupation 
with the idea, finally dry up the tenderest souls, the most 
compassionate hearts, the sources of human love. Consid 
ering all that is, all that happens in the world from the point 
of view of eternity or of the abstract idea, they treat pass 
ing matters with disdain; but the whole life of real men, of 
men of flesh and bone, is composed only of passing matters; 
they themselves are only passing beings, who, once passed, 
are replaced by others likewise passing, but never to return 
in person. Alone permanent or relatively eternal in men is 
humanity, which steadily developing, grows richer in pass 
ing from one generation to another. I say relatively eternal, 
because, our planet once destroyed it cannot fail to perish 
sooner or later, since everything which has begun must nec 
essarily end our planet once decomposed, to serve undoubt 
edly as an element of some new formation in the system of 
the universe, which alone is really eternal, who knows what 
will become of our whole human development? Neverthe 
less, the moment of this dissolution being an enormous dis 
tance in the future, we may properly consider humanity, 
relatively to the short duration of human life, as eternal. 
But this very fact of progressive humanity is real and liv 
ing only through its manifestations at definite times, in def 
inite places, in really living men,, and not through its gen 
eral idea. 

The general idea is always an abstraction and, for that 
very reason, in some sort a negation of real life. I have 
stated in the Appendix that human thought and, in conse 
quence of this, science can grasp and name only the general 
significance of real facts, their relations, their laws in short, 
that which is permanent in their continual transformations 
but never their material, individual side, palpitating, so to 
speak, with reality and life, and therefore fugitive and in 
tangible. Science comprehends the thought of the reality, 
not reality itself ; the thought of life, not life. That is its 



GOD AND THE STATE 55 

limit, its only really insuperable limit, because it is founded 
on the very nature of thought, which is the only organ of 
science. 

Upon this nature are based the indisputable rights and 
grand mission of science, but also its vital impotence and 
even its mischievous action whenever, through its official 
licensed representatives, it arrogantly claims the right to 
govern life. The mission of science is, by observation of the 
general relations of passing and real facts, to establish the 
general laws inherent in the development of the phenomena 
of the physical and social world; it fixes, so to speak, the 
unchangeable landmarks of humanity s progressive march 
by indicating the general conditions which it is necessary to 
rigorously observe and always fatal to ignore or forget. In 
a word, science is the compass of life; but it is not life. 
Science is unchangeable, impersonal, general, abstract, in 
sensible, like the laws of which it is but the ideal reproduc 
tion, reflected or mental that is cerebral (using mis word 
to remind us that science itself is but a material product of 
a material organ, the brain). Life is wholly fugitive and 
temporary, but also wholly palpitating with reality and in 
dividuality, sensibility, sufferings, joys, aspirations, needs, 
and passions. It alone spontaneously creates real things and 
beings. Science creates nothing; it establishes and recog 
nizes only the creations of life. And every time that scien 
tific men, emerging from their abstract world, mingle with 
living creation in the real world, all that they propose or 
create is poor, ridiculously abstract, bloodless and lifeless, 
still-born, like the homunculus created by Wagner, the ped 
antic disciple of the immortal Doctor Faust. It follows that 
the only mission of science is to enlighten life, not to gov 
ern it. 

The government of science and of men of science, even 
be they positivists, disciples of Auguste Comte, or, again, 
disciples of the doctrinaire school of German Communism, 
cannot fail to be impotent, ridiculous, inhuman, cruel, op 
pressive, exploiting, maleficent. We may say of men of 



56 GOD AND THE STATE 

science, as such, what I have said of theologians and meta 
physicians : they have neither sense nor heart for individual 
and living beings. We cannot even blame them for this, 
for it is the natural consequence of their profession. In so 
far as they are men of science, they have to deal with and 
can take interest in nothing except generalities ; that do the 
laws* . 



. they are not exclusively men of science, but 
are also more or less men of life.f 

Nevertheless, we must not rely too much on this. Though 
we may be well nigh certain that a savant would not dare 
to treat a man to-day as he treats a rabbit, it remains always 
to be feared that the savants as a body, if not interfered with, 
may submit living men to scientific experiments, undoubtedly 
less cruel but none the less disagreeable to their victims. If 
they cannot perform experiments upon the bodies of indi 
viduals, they will ask nothing better than to perform them on 
the social body, and that is what must be absolutely pre 
vented. 

In their existing organization, monopolizing science and 
remaining thus outside of social life, the savants form a 
separate caste, in many respects analogous to the priesthood. 
Scientific abstraction is their God ? living and real individuals 
are their victims, and they are the consecrated and licensed 
sacrificers. 

Science cannot go outside of the sphere of abstractions. 
In this respect it is infinitely inferior to art, which, in its 
turn, is peculiarly concerned also with general types and gen 
eral situations, but which incarnates them by an artifice of 

*Here three pages of Baktmin s manuscript are missing. 

fThe lost part of this sentence perhaps said: "If men of science, 
in their researches and experiments are not treating men actually 
as they treat animals, the reason is that" they are not exclusively 
men of science, but are also more or less men of life. 



GOD AND THE STATE 57 

its own in forms which, if they are not living in the sense 
of real life, none the less excite in our imagination the mem 
ory and sentiment of life; art in a certain sense individual 
izes the types and situations which it conceives ; by means of 
the individualities without flesh and bone, and consequently 
permanent and immortal, which it has the power to create, 
it recalls to our minds the living, real individualities which 
appear and disappear under our eyes. Art, then, is as it 
were the return of abstraction to life; science, on the con 
trary, is the perpetual immolation of life, fugitive, tempo 
rary, but real, on the altar of eternal abstractions. 

Science is as incapable of grasping the individuality of 
a man as that of a rabbit, being equally indifferent to both. 
Not that it is ignorant of the principle of individuality: it 
conceives it perfectly as a principle, but not as a fact. It 
knows very well that all the animal species, including the 
human species, have no real existence outside of an indefinite 
number of individuals, born and dying to make room for 
new individuals equally fugitive. It knows that in rising 
from the animal species to the superior species the principle 
of individuality becomes more pronounced; the individuals 
appear freer and more complete. It knows that man, the 
last and most perfect animal of earth, presents the most com 
plete and most remarkable individuality, because of his 
power to conceive, concrete, personify, as it were, in his so 
cial and private existence, the universal law. It knows, 
finally, when it is not vitiated by theological or metaphysical, 
political or judcial doctrinairisme, or even by a narrow 
scientific pride, when it is not deaf to the instincts and spon 
taneous aspirations of life it knows (and this is its last 
word) that respect for man is the supreme law of Human 
ity, and that the great, the real object of history, its only 
legitimate object, is the humanization and emancipation, the 
real liberty, the prosperity and happiness of each individual 
living in society. For, if we would not fall back into the 
liberticidal fiction of the public welfare represented by the 
State, a fiction always founded on the systematic sacrifice 



5 GOD AND THE STATE 

of the people, we must clearly recognize that collective lib 
erty and prosperity exist only so far as they represent the 
sum of individual liberties and prosperities. 

Science knows all these things, but it does not and can 
not go beyond them. Abstraction being its very nature, it 
can well enough conceive the principle of real and living in 
dividuality, but it can have no dealings with real and living 
individuals; it concerns itself with individuals in general, 
but not with Peter or. James, not with such or such a one, 
who, so far as it is concerned, do not, cannot, have any 
existence. Its individuals, I repeat, are only abstractions. 

Now, history is made, not by abstract individuals, but 
by acting, living and passing individuals. Abstractions ad 
vance only when borne forward by real men. For these 
beings made, not in idea only, but in reality of flesh and 
blood, science has no heart: it considers them at most as 
material for intellectual and social development. What does 
it care for the particular conditions and chance fate of Peter 
or James? It would make itself ridiculous, it would abdi 
cate, it would annihilate itself, if it wished to concern itself 
with them otherwise than as examples in support of its 
eternal theories. And it would be ridiculous to wish it to 
do so, for its mission lies not there. It cannot grasp the 
concrete ; it can move only in abstractions. Its mission is to 
busy itself with the situation and the general conditions of 
the existence and development, either of the human species 
in general, or of such a race, such a people, such a class or 
category of individuals ; the general causes of their pros 
perity, their decline, and the best general methods of secur 
ing their progress in all ways. Provided it accomplishes 
this task broadly and rationally, it will do its whole duty, 
and it would be really unjust to expect more of it. 

But it would be equally ridiculous, it would be disastrous 
to entrust it with a mission which it is incapable of fulfilling. 
Since its own nature forces it to ignore the existence of 
Peter and James, it must never be permitted, nor must any 
body be permitted in its name, to govern Peter and James. 



GOD AND THE STATE 59 

For it were capable of treating them almost as it treats 
rabbits. Or rather, it would continue to ignore them; but 
its licensed representatives, men not at all abstract, but on 
the contrary in very active life and having very substantial 
interests, yielding to the pernicious influence which privilege 
inevitably exercises upon men, would finally fleece other 
men in the name of science, just as they have been fleeced 
hitherto by priests, politicians of all shades, and lawyers, in 
the name of God, of the State, of judicial Right. 

What I preach then is, to a certain extent, the revolt of 
life against science, or rather against the government of 
science, not to destroy science that would be high treason 
to humanity but to remand it to its place so that it can 
never leave it again. Until now all human history has been 
only a perpetual and bloody immolation of millions of poor 
human beings in honor of some pitiless abstraction God, 
country, power of State, national honor, historical rights, 
judicial rights, political liberty, public welfare. Such has 
been up to-day the natural, spontaneous, and inevitable 
movement of human societies. We cannot undo it ; we must 
submit to it so far as the past is concerned, as we submit 
to all natural fatalities. We must believe that that was the 
only possible way to educate the human race. For we must 
not deceive ourselves : even in attributing the larger part to 
the Machiavellian wiles of the governing classes, we have 
to recognize that no minority would have been powerful 
enough to impose all these horrible sacrifices upon the masses 
if there had not been in the masses themselves a dizzy spon 
taneous movement which pushed them on to continual self- 
sacrifice, now to one, now to another of these devouring 
abstractions, the vampires of history, ever nourished upon 
human blood. 

We readily understand that this is very gratifying to the 
theologians, politicians, and jurists. Priests of these ab 
stractions, they live only by the continual immolation of the 
people. Nor is it more surprising that metaphysics, 
too, should give its consent. Its only mission is to justify 



6O GOD AND THE STATE 

and rationalize as far as possible the iniquitous and absurd. 
But that positiye science itself should have shown the same 
tendencies is a fact which we must deplore while we estab 
lish it. That it has done so is due to two reasons : in the 
first place, because, constituted outside of life, it is repre 
sented by a privileged body ; and in the second place, because 
thus far it has posited itself as an absolute and final object 
of all human development. By a judicious criticism, which 
it can and finally will be forced to pass upon itself, it would 
understand, on the contrary, that it is only a means for the 
realization of a much higher object that of the complete 
humanization of the real situation of all the real individuals 
who are born, who live, and who die, on earth. 

The immense advantage of positive science over theology, 
metaphysics, politics, and judicial right consists in this 
that, in place of the false and fatal abstractions set up by 
these doctrines, it posits true abstractions which express the 
general nature and logic of things, their general relations, 
and the general laws of their development. This separates 
it profoundly from all preceding doctrines, and will assure 
it for ever a great position in society: it will constitute in 
a certain sense society s collective consciousness. But there 
is one aspect in which it resembles all these doctrines: its 
only possible object being abstractions, it is forced by its 
very nature to ignore real men, outside of whom the truest 
abstractions have no existence. To remedy this radical de 
fect positive science will have to proceed by a different 
method from that followed by the doctrines of the past. 
The latter have taken advantage of the ignorance of the 
masses to sacrifice them with delight to their abstractions, 
which, by the way, are always very lucrative to those who 
represent them in flesh and bone. Positive science, recog 
nizing its absolute inability to conceive real individuals and 
interest itself in their lot, must definitely and absolutely re 
nounce all claim to the government of societies; for if it 
should meddle therein, it would only sacrifice continually 
the living men whom it ignores to the abstractions which 



GOD AND THE STATE 6l 

constitute the sole object of its legitimate preoccupations. 

The true science of history, for instance, does not yet 
exist ; scarcely do we begin to-day to catch a glimpse of its 
extremely complicated conditions. But suppose it were 
definitely developed, what could it give us? It would ex 
hibit a faithful and rational picture of the natural develop 
ment of the general conditions material and ideal, economi 
cal, political and social, religious, philosophical, aesthetic, and 
scientific of the societies which have a history. But this 
universal picture of human civilization, however detailed it 
might be, would never show anything beyond general and 
consequently abstract estimates. The milliards of individ 
uals who have furnished the living and suffering materials 
of this history at once triumphant and dismal triumphant 
by its general results, dismal by the immense hecatomb of 
human victims "crushed under its car" those milliards of 
obscure individuals without whom none of the great ab 
stract results of history would have been obtained and 
who, bear in mind, have never benefited by any of these 
results will find no place, not even the slightest, in our 
annals. They have lived and been sacrificed, crushed for 
the good of abstract humanity, that is all. 

Shall we blame the science of history? That would be 
unjust and ridiculous. Individuals cannot be grasped by 
thought, by reflection, or even by human speech, which is 
capable of expressing abstractions only; they cannot be 
grasped in the present day any more than in the past. There 
fore social science itself, the science of the future, will nec 
essarily continue to ignore them. All that we have a right 
to demand of it is that it shall point us with faithful and 
sure hand to the general causes of individual suffering* 
among these causes it will not forget the immolation and 
subordination (still too frequent, alas!) of living individuals 
to abstract generalities at the same time showing us the 
genital conditions necessary to the real emancipation of the 
individuals living in society. That is its mission ; those are 
its limits, beyond which the action of social science can be 



62 GOD AND THE STATE 

only impotent and fatal. Beyond those limits being the doc 
trinaire and governmental pretentions of its licensed repre 
sentatives, its priests. It is time to have done with all popes 
and priests ; we want them no longer, even if they call them 
selves Social Democrats. 

Once more, the sole mission of science is to light the 
road. Only Life, delivered from all its governmental and 
doctrinaire barriers, and given full liberty of action, can 
create. 

How solve this antinomy? 

On the one hand, science is indispensable to the rational 
organization of society ; on the other, being incapable of in 
teresting itself in that which is real and living, it must not 
interfere with the real or practical organization of society. 

This contradiction can be solved only in one way : by the 
liquidation of science as a moral being existing outside the 
life of all, and represented by a body of breveted savants; 
it must spread among the masses. Science, being called upon 
to henceforth represent society s collective consciousness, 
must really become the property of everybody. Thereby, 
without losing anything of its universal character, of which 
it can never divest itself without ceasing to be science, and 
while continuing to concern itself exclusively with general 
causes, the conditions and fixed relations of individuals and 
things, it will become one in fact with the immediate and 
real life of all individuals. That will be a movement analo 
gous to that which said to the Protestants at the beginning 
of the Reformation that there was no further need of priests 
for man, who would henceforth be his own priest, every 
man, thanks to the invisible intervention of the Lord Jesus 
Christ alone, having at last succeeded in swallowing his 
good God. But here the question is not of Jesus Christ, nor 
good God, nor of political liberty, nor of judicial right 
tilings all theologically or metaphysically revealed, and all 
alike indigestible. The world of scientific abstractions is not 
revealed ; it is inherent in the real world, of which it is only 
the general or abstract expression and representation. As 



GOD AND THE STATE 63 

long as it forms a separate region, specially represented by 
the savants as a body, this ideal world threatens to take the 
place of a good God to the real world, reserving for its 
licensed representatives the office of priests. ^That ^is the 
reason why it is necessary to dissolve the special social or 
ganization of the savants by general instruction, equal for all 
in all things, in order that the masses, ceasing to^be flocks 
led and shorn by privileged priests, may take into their 
own hands the direction of their destinies.* 

But until the masses shall have reached this degree of 
instruction, will it be necessary to leave them to the govern 
ment of scientific men? Certainly not. It would be better 
for them to dispense with science than allow themselves to 
be governed by savants. The first consequence of the gov 
ernment of these men would be to render science inaccessible 
to the people, and such a government would necessarily be 
aristocratic, because the existing scientific institutions are 
essentially aristocratic. An aristocracy of learning! from 
the practical point of view the most implacable, and from 
the social point of view the most haughty and insulting 
such would be the power established in the name of science. 
This regime would be capable of paralyzing the life and 
movement of society. The savants always presumptuous, 
ever self-sufficient and ever impotent, would desire to 
meddle with everything, and the sources of life would dry 
up under the breath of their abstractions. 

Once more, Life, not science, creates life; the spontane- 

*Science, in becoming the patrimony of everybody, will wed 
itself in a certain sense to the immediate and real life of each. It 
will gain in utility and grace what it loses in pride, ambition, and 
doctrinaire pedantry. This, however, will not prevent men of genius, 
better organized for scientific speculation than the majority of their 
fellows, from devoting themselves exclusively to the cultivation 
of the sciences, and rendering great services to humanity. Only, 
they will be ambitious for no other social influence than the natural 
influence exercised upon its surroundings by every superior intel 
ligence, and for no other reward than the high delight which a 
noble mind always finds in the satisfaction of a noble passion. 



64 GOD AND THE STATE 

ous action of the people themselves alone .can- create liberty. 
Undoubtedly it would be" a very fortunate thing if science 
could, from this day forth, illuminate the spontaneous 
march of the people towards their emancipation. But better 
an absence of light than a false and feeble light, kindled 
only to mislead those who follow it. After all, the people 
will not lack light. Not in vain have they traversed a long 
historic career, and paid for their errors by centuries of 
misery. The practical summary of their painful experiences 
constitutes a sort of traditional science, which in certain 
respects is worth as much as theoretical science. Last of 
all, a portion of the youth those of the bourgeois students 
who feel hatred enough for the falsehood, hypocrisy, injus 
tice, and cowardice of the bourgeoisie to find courage to 
turn their backs upon it, and passion enough to unreservedly 
embrace the just and human cause of the proletariatthose 
will be, as I have already said, fraternal instructors of the 
people; thanks to them, there will be no occasion for the 
government of the savants. 

If the people should beware of the government of the 
savants, all the more should they provide against that of the 

inspired idealists. The _mpre .sincere - these believers and 

poets of heaven, the more dangerous they become. The 
scientific abstraction, I have said, is a rational abstraction, 
true in its essence, necessary to life, of which it is the theo 
retical representation, or, if one prefers, the conscience. It 
may, it must be, absorbed and digested by life. The ideal 
istic abstraction, God, is a corrosive poison, which destroys 
and decomposes life, falsifies and kills it. The pride of the 
idealists, not being personal but divine, is invincible and in 
exorable: it may, it must, die, but it will never yield, and 
while it has a breath left it will try to subject men to its 
God, just as the lieutenants of Prussia, these practical ideal 
ists of Germany, would like to see the people crushed under 
the spurred boot of their emperor. The faith is the same, 
the end but little different, and the result, as that of faith, 
is slavery. 



GOD AND THE STATE 65 

It is at the same time the triumph of the ugliest and 
most brutal materialism. There is no need to demonstrate 
this in the case of Germany ; one would have to be blind to 
avoid seeing it at the present hour. But I think it is still 
necessary to demonstrate it in the case of divine idealism. 

Man, like all the rest of nature, is an entirely material 
being. The mind, the facility of thinking, of receiving and 
reflecting upon different external and internal sensations, of 
remembering them when they have passed and reproducing 
them by the imagination, of comparing and distinguishing 
them, of abstracting determinations common to them and 
thus creating general concepts, and finally of forming ideas 
by grouping and combining concepts according to different 
methods intelligence, in a word, sole creator of our whole 
ideal world, is a property of the animal body and especially 
of the quite material organism of the brain. 

We know this certainly, by the experience of all, which 
no fact has ever contradicted and which any man can verify 
at any moment of his life. In all animals, without excepting 
the wholly inferior species, we find a certain degree of. in 
telligence, and we see that, in the series of species, animal 
intelligence develops in proportion as the organization of a 
species approaches that of man, but that in man alone it 
attains to that power of abstraction which properly consti 
tutes thought. 

Universal experience,* which is the sole origin, the source 
of all our knowledge, shows us, therefore, that all intelli 
gence is always attached to some animal body, and that the 
intensity, the power, of this animal function depends upon 
the relative perfection of the organism. The latter of these 
results of universal experience is not applicable only to the 
different animal species; we establish it likewise in men, 

*Universal experience, on which all science rests, must be clearly 
distinguished from universal faith, on which the idealists wish to 
support their beliefs: the first is a real authentication of facts; the 
second is only a supposition of facts which nobody has seen, and 
which consequently are at variance with the experience of everybody. 



66 



GOD AND THE STATE 



whose intellectual and moral power depends so clearly upon 
the greater or less perfection of their organism as a race, 
as a nation, as a class, and as individuals, that it is not nec 
essary to insist upon this point.* 

On the other hand, it is certain that no man has ever 
seen or can see pure mind, detached from all material form, 
existing separately from any animal body whatsoever. But 
if no person has seen it, how is it that men have come to 
believe in its existence? The fact of this belief is certain, 
and if not universal, as all the idealists pretend, at least 
very general, and as such it is entirely worthy of our closest 
attention, for a general belief, however foolish it may be, 
exercises too potent a sway over the destiny of men to war 
rant us in ignoring it or putting it aside. 

The explanation of this belief, moreover, is rational 
enough. The example afforded us by children and young 
people, and even by_many men long past the age of majority, 
shows us that man may use his mental faculties for a long 
time before accounting to himself for the way in which he 
uses them, before becoming clearly conscious of it. Dur 
ing this working of the mind unconscious of itself, during 

*The idealists, all those who believe in the immateriality and 
immortality of the human soul, must be excessively embarrassed 
by the difference in intelligence existing between races, peoples, and 
individuals. Unless we suppose that the various divine particles 
have been irregularly distributed, how is this difference to be ex 
plained? Unfortunately there is a considerable number of men 
wholly stupid, foolish even to idiocy. Could they have received 
in the distribution a particle at once divine and stupid ? To escape 
this embarrassment the idealists must necessarily suppose that all 
human souls are equal, but that the prisons in which they find them 
selves necessarily confined, human bodies, are unequal, some more 
capable than others of serving as an organ for the pure intellec 
tuality of soul. According to this, such a one might have very fine 
organs at his disposition, such another very gross organs. But these 
are distinctions which idealism has not the pow r er to use without 
falling into inconsistency and the grossest materialism; for 
in the presence of absolute immateriality of soul all bodily differ 
ences disappear, all that is corporeal, material, necessarily appearing 



GOD AND THE STATE 67 

" \ 

this action of innocent or believing intelligence, man, ob 
sessed by the external world, pushed on by that internal 
goad called life and its manifold necessities, creates a quan 
tity of imaginations, concepts, and ideas necessarily very 
imperfect at first and conforming but slightly to the reality 
of the things and facts which they endeavor to express. Not 
having yet the consciousness of his own intelligent action, 
not knowing yet that he himself has produced and continues 
to produce these imaginations, these concepts, these ideas, 
ignoring their wholly subjective that is, human origin, he 
must naturally consider them as objective beings, as real 
beings, wholly independent of him, existing by themselves 
and in themselves. 

It was thus that primitive peoples, emerging slowly from 
their animal innocence, created their gods. Having created 
them, not suspecting that they themselves were the real 
creators, they worshipped them ; considering them as real 
beings infinitely superior to themselves, they attributed omni 
potence to them, and recognized themselves as their crea 
tures, their slaves. As fast as human ideas develop, the 
gods, who, as I have already stated, were never anything 
more than a fantastic, ideal, poetical reverberation or an in 
verted image, become idealized also. At first gross fetiches, 

indifferent, equally and absolutely gross. The abyss which separates 
soul from body, absolute immateriality from absolute materiality, 
is infinite. Consequently all differences, by the way inexplicable and 
logically impossible, which may exist on the other side of the abyss, 
in matter, should be to the soul null and void, and neither can nor 
should exercise any influence over it. In a word, the absolutely 
immaterial cannot be constrained, imprisoned, and much less ex 
pressed in any degree whatsoever by the absolutely material. Of all 
the gross and materialistic (using the word in the sense attached 
to it by the idealists) imaginations which were engendered by the 
primitive ignorance and stupidity of men, that of an immaterial 
soul imprisoned in a material body is certainly the grossest, the 
most stupid, and nothing better proves the omnipotence exercised 
by ancient prejudices even over the best minds than the deplorable 
sight of men endowed with lofty intelligence still talking of it 
in our days. 



68 



GOD AND THE STATE 



they gradually become pure spirits, existing outside of the 
visible world, and at last, in the course of a long historic 
evolution, are confounded in a single Divine Being, pure, 
eternal, absolute Spirit, creator and master of the worlds. 

In every development, just or false, real or imaginary, 
collective or individual, it is always the first step, 
the first act that is the most difficult. That step once taken, 
the rest follows naturally as a necessary consequence. The 
difficult step in the historical development of this terrible re 
ligious insanity which continues to obsess and crush us was 
to posit a divine world as such, outside the world. This first 
act of madness, so natural from the physiological point of 
view and consequently necessary in the history of humanity, 
was not accomplished at a single stroke. I know not how 
many centuries were needed to develop this belief and make 
it a governing influence upon the mental customs of men. 
But, once established, it became omnipotent, as each insane 
notion necessarily becomes when it takes possession of man s 
brain, Take a madman, whatever the object of his madness 
you will find that obscure and fixed idea which obsesses 
him seems to him the most natural thing in the world, and 
that, on the contrary, the real things which contradict this 
idea seem to him ridiculous and odious follies. Well, re 
ligion is a collective insanity, the more powerful because it 
is traditional folly, and because its origin is lost in the most 
remote antiquity. As collective insanity it has penetrated 
to the very depths of the public and private existence of 
the peoples ; it is incarnate in society ; it has become, so to 
speak, the collective, soul and thought. Every man is en 
veloped in it from his birth ; he sucks it in with his mother s 
milk, absorbs it with all that he touches, all that he sees. 
He is so exclusively fed upon it, so poisoned and penetrated 
by it in all his being, that later, however powerful his nat 
ural mind, he has to make unheard-of efforts to deliver him 
self from it, and even then never completely succeeds. We 
have one proof of this in our modern idealists, and another 
in our doctrinaire materialists the German Communists. 



GOD AND THE STATE 69 

They have found no way to shake off the religion of the 



The supernatural world, the divine world, once well es 
tablished in the imagination of the peoples, the development 
of the various religious systems has followed its natural and 
logical course, conforming, moreover, in all things to the 
contemporary development of economical and political re 
lations of which it has been in all ages, in the world of re 
ligious fancy, the faithful reproduction and divine consecra 
tion. Thus has the collective and historical insanity which 
calls itself religion been developed since fetichism, passing 
through all the stages from polytheism to Christian mono 
theism. 

The-sond step in the development of religious beliefs, 
undoubtedly the most difficult next to the establishment of 
a separate divine world, was precisely this transition from 
polytheism to monotheism, from the religious materialism 
of the pagans to the spiritualistic faith of the Christians. 
The pagan gods and this was their principal characteristic 
were first of all exclusively national gods. Very numer 
ous, they necessarily retained a more or less material char 
acter, or, rather, they were so numerous because they were 
material, diversity being one of the principal attributes of 
the real world. The pagan gods were not yet strictly the 
negation of real things ; they were only a fantastic exaggera 
tion of them. 

We have seen how much this transition cost the Jew 
ish people, constituting, so to speak, its entire history. In 
vain did Moses and the prophets preach the one god; the 
people always relapsed into their primitive idolatry, into the 
ancient and comparatively much more natural and conveni 
ent faith in many good gods, more material, more human, 
and more palpable. Jehovah himself, their sole God, the 
God of Moses and the prophets, was still an extremely na 
tional God, who, to reward and punish his faithful follow 
ers, his chosen people, used material arguments, often stupid, 
always gross and cruel. It does not even appear that faith 



7O GOD AND THE STATE 

in his existence implie<J a negation of the existence of earlier 
gods. The Jewish God did not deny the existence of these 
rivals; he simply did not want his people to worship them 
side by side with him, because before all Jehovah was a very 
jealous God. His first commandment was this : 

"I am the Lord thy God, and thou shalt have no other 
gods before me." 

Jehovah, then, was only a first draft, very material and 
very rough, of the supreme deity of modern idealism. More 
over, he was only a national God, like the Russian God wor 
shipped by the German generals, subjects of the Czar and 
patriots of the empire of all the Russias ; like the German 
God, whom the pietists and the German generals, subjects 
of William I. at Berlin, will no doubt soon proclaim. The 
supreme being cannot be a national God; he must be the 
God of entire Humanity. Nor can the supreme being be 
a material being; he must be the negation of all matter 
pure spirit. Two things have proved necessary to the real 
ization of the worship of the supreme being : ( i ) a realiza 
tion, such as it is, of Humanity by the negation of nation 
alities and national forms of worship; (2) a development, 
already far advanced,, oL metaphysical ideas in order to 
spiritualize the gross Jehovah of the Jews. 

The first condition was fulfilled by the Romans, though 
in a very negative way no doubt, by the conquest of most 
of the countries known to the ancients and by the destruc 
tion of their national institutions. The gods of all the con 
quered nations, gathered in the Pantheon, mutually can 
celled each other. This was the first draft of humanity, 
very gross and quite negative. 

As for the second condition, the spiritualization of Je 
hovah, that was realized by the Greeks long before the con 
quest of their country by the Romans. They were the 
creators of metaphysics. Greece, in the cradle of her his 
tory, had already found from the Orient a divine world 
which had been definitely established in the traditional faith 
of her peoples ; this world had been left and handed over to 



GOD AND THE STATE 71 

her by the Orient. In her instinctive period, prior to her 
political history, she had developed and prodigiously human 
ized this divine world through her poets ; and when she 
actually began her history, she already had a religion ready- 
made, the most sympathetic and noble of all the religions 
which have existed, so far at least as a religion that is, a 
lie can be noble and sympathetic. Her great thinkers 
and no nation has had greater than Greece found the 
divine world established, not only outside of themselves in 
the people, but also in themselves as a habit of feeling and 
thought, and naturally they took it as a point of departure. 
That they made no theology that is, that they did not wait 
in vain to reconcile dawning reason with the absurdities of 
such a god, as did the scholastics of the Middle Ages was 
already much in their favor. They left the gods out of 
their speculations and attached themselves directly to the 
divine idea, one, invisible, omnipotent, eternal, and abso 
lutely spiritualistic but impersonal. As concerns Spiritual 
ism, then, the Greek metaphysicians, much more than the 
Jews, were the creators of the Christian god. The Jews 
only added to it the brutal personality of their Jehovah. 

That a sublime genius like the divine Plato could have 
been absolutely convinced of the reality of the divine idea 
shows us how contagious, how omnipotent, is the tradition 
of the religious mania even on the greatest minds. Be 
sides, we should not be surprised at it, since, even in our 
day, the greatest philosophical genius which has existed 
since Aristotle and Plato, Hegel in spite even of Kant s 
criticism, imperfect and too metaphysical though it be, 
which had demolished the objectivity or reality of the divine 
ideas tried to replace these divine ideas upon their trans 
cendental or celestial throne. It is true that Hegel went 
about his work of restoration in so impolite a manner that 
he killed the good God for ever. He took away from these 
ideas their divine halo, by showing to whoever will read 
him that they were never anything more than a creation of 
the human mind running through history in search of it- 



72 GOD AND THE STATE 

self. To put an end to all religious insanities and the divine 
mirage, he left nothing lacking but the utterance of those 
grand words which were said after him, almost at the same 
time, by two great minds who had never heard of each other 
Ludwig Feuerbach, the disciple and demolisher of Hegel, 
in Germany, and Auguste Comte, the founder of positive 
philosophy, in France. The^e words were as follows : 

"Metaphysics are reduced to psychology." All the meta 
physical systems have been nothing else than human psy 
chology developing itself in history. 

To-day it is no longer difficult to understand how the 
divine ideas were born, how they were created in succession 
by the abstractive faculty of man. Man made the gods. 
But in the time of Plato this knowledge was impossible. 
The collective mind, and consequently the individual mind 
as well, even that of the greatest genius, was not ripe for 
that. Scarcely had it said with Socrates : "Know thyself !" 
This self-knowledge existed only in a state of intuition; in 
fact, it amounted to nothing. Hence it was impossible for 
the human mind to suspect that it was itself the sole creator 
of the divine world. It found the divine world before it ; it 
found it as history, as tradition, as a sentiment, as a habit 
of thought; and it necessarily made it the object of its lof 
tiest speculations. Thus was born metaphysics, and thus 
were developed and perfected the divine ideas, the basis of 
Spiritualism. 

It is true that after Plato there was a sort of inverse 
movement in the development of the mind. Aristotle, the 
true father of science and positive philosophy, did not deny 
the divine world, but concerned himself with it as little as 
possible. He was the first to study, like the analyst and ex 
perimenter that he was, logic, the laws of human thought, 
and at the same time the physical world, not in its ideal, 
illusory essence, but in its real aspect. After him the Greeks 
of Alexandria established the first school of the positive 
scientists. They were atheists. But their atheism left no 
mark on their contemporaries. Science tended more and 



GOD AND THE STATE 73 

more to separate itself from life. After Plato, divine ideas 
were rejected in metaphysics themselves; this was done by 
the Epicureans and Skeptics, two sects who contributed 
much to the degradation of human aristocracy, but they had 
no effect upon the masses. 

Another school, infinitely more influential, was formed 
at Alexandria. This was the school of neo-Platonists. 
These, confounding in an impure mixture the monstrous 
imaginations of the Orient with the ideas of Plato, were 
the true originators, and later the elaborators, of the Chris 
tian dogmas. 

Thus the personal and gross egoism of Jehovah, the not 
less brutal and gross Roman conquest, and the metaphysical 
ideal speculation of the Greeks, materialized by contact with 
the Orient, were the three historical elements which made 
up the spiritualistic religion of the Christians. 

Before the altar of a unique and supreme God was 
raised on the ruins of the numerous altars of the pagan gods, 
the autonomy of the various nations composing the pagan 
or ancient world had to be destroyed first. This was very 
brutally done by the Romans who, by conquering the great 
est part of the globe known to the ancients, laid the first 
foundations, quite gross and negative ones no doubt, of hu 
manity. A God thus raised above the national differences, 
material and social, of all countries, and in a certain sense 
the direct negation of them, must necessarily be an imma 
terial and abstract being. But faith in the existence of such 
a being, so difficult a matter, could not spring into existence 
suddenly. Consequently, as I have demonstrated in the 
Appendix, it went through a long course of preparation and 
development at the hands of Greek metaphysics, which were 
the first to establish in a philosophical manner the notion of 
the divine idea, a model eternally creative and always repro 
duced by the visible world. But the divinity conceived and 
created by Greek philosophy was an impersonal divinity. 
No logical and serious metaphysics being able to rise, or, 



74 GOD AND THE STATE 

rather, to descend, to the idea of a personal God, it became 
necessary, therefore, to imagine a God who was one and 
very personal at once. He was found in the very brutal, 
selfish, and cruel person of Jehovah, the national God of 
the Jews. But the Jews, in spite of that exclusive national 
spirit which distinguishes them even to-day, had become in 
fact, long before the birth of Christ, the most international 
people of the world. Some of them carried away as cap 
tives, but many more even urged on by that mercantile pas 
sion which constitutes one of the principal traits of their 
character, they had spread through all countries, carrying 
everywhere the worship of their Jehovah, to whom they re 
mained all the more faithful the more he abandoned them. 

In Alexandria this terrible god of the Jews made the per 
sonal acquaintance of the metaphysical divinity of Plato, 
already much corrupted by Oriental contact, and corrupted 
her still more by his own. In spite of his national, jealous, 
and ferocious exclusivism, he could not long resist the graces 
of this ideal and impersonal divinity of the Greeks. He 
married her, and from this marriage was born the spirit 
ualistic but not spirited God of the Christians. The neo- 
Platonists of Alexandria are known to have been the prin 
cipal creators of the Christian theology. 

Nevertheless theology alone does not make a religion, 
any more than historical elements suffice to create history. 
By historical elements I mean the general conditions of any 
real development whatsoever for example in this case the 
conquest of the world by the Romans and the meeting of 
the God of the Jews with the ideal of divinity of the Greeks. 
To impregnate the historical elements, to cause them to run 
through a series of new historical transformations, a living, 
spontaneous fact was needed, without which they might 
have remained many centuries longer in the state of unpro 
ductive elements. This fact was not lacking in Christianity : 
it was the propagandist^ martyrdom, and death of Jesus 
Christ. 

We know almost nothing of this great and saintly per- 



GOD AND THE STATE 75 

sonage, all that the gospels tell us being contradictory, and 
so fabulous that we can scarcely seize upon a few real and 
vital traits. But it is certain that he was the preacher of the 
poor, the friend and consoler of the wretched, of the igno 
rant, of the slaves, and of the women, and that by these last 
he was much loved. He promised eternal life to all who 
are oppressed, to all who suffer here below ; and the number 
is immense. He was hanged, as a matter of course, by the 
representatives of the official morality and public order of 
that period. His disciples and the disciples of his disciples 
succeeded in spreading, thanks to the destruction of the 
national barriers by the Roman conquest, and propagated 
the Gospel in all the countries known to the ancients. 
Everywhere they were received with open arms by the 
slaves and the women, the two most oppressed, most suffer 
ing, and naturally also the most ignorant classes of the 
ancient world. For even such few proselytes as they made 
in the privileged and learned world they were indebted in 
great part to the influence of women. Their most exten 
sive propagandism was directed almost exclusively among 
the people, unfortunate and degraded by slavery. This was 
the first awakening, the first intellectual revolt of the pro 
letariat. 

The great honor of Christianity, its incontestable merit, 
and the whole secret of its unprecedented and yet thor 
oughly legitimate triumph, lay in the fact that it appealed 
to that suffering and immense public to which the ancient 
world, a strict and cruel intellectual and political aristocracy, 
denied even the simplest rights of humanity. Otherwise it 
never could have spread. The doctrine taught by the apos 
tles of Christ, wholly consoling as it may have seemed to 
the unfortunate, was too revolting, too absurd from the 
standpoint of human reason, ever to have been accepted by 
enlightened men. According with what joy the apostle 
Paul speaks of the scam/dale de la foi and of the triumph of 
that divine folie rejected by the powerful and wie of th 



? GOD AND THE STATE 

century, but all the more passionately accepted by the simple, 
the ignorant, and the weak-minded ! 

Indeed there must have been a very deep-seated dissatis 
faction with life, a very intense thirst of heart, and an al 
most absolute poverty of thought, to secure the acceptance 
of the Christian absurdity, the most audacious and mon 
strous of all religious absurdities. 

This was not only the negation of all the political, social, 
and religious institutions of antiquity: it was the absolute 
overturn of common sense, of all human reason. The living 
being, the real world, were considered thereafter as nothing ; 
whereas the product of man s abstractive faculty, the last 
and supreme abstraction in which this faculty, far beyond 
existing things, even beyond the most general determinations 
of the living being, the ideas of space and time, having noth 
ing left to advance beyond, rests in contemplation of his 
emptiness and absolute immobility. 

That abstraction, that caput mortuum, absolutely void of 
all contents, the true nothing, God, is proclaimed the only 
real, eternal, all-powerful being. The real All is declared 
nothing, and the absolute nothing the All. The shadow be 
comes the substance, and the substance vanishes like a 
shadow.* 

All this was audacity and absurdity unspeakable, the 
true scandale de la foi, the triumph of credulous stupidity 
over the mind for the masses ; and for a few the trium 
phant irony of a mind wearied, corrupted, disillusioned, 
and disgusted in honest and serious search for truth ; it was 



*I am well aware that in the theological and metaphysical sys 
tems of the Orient, and especially in those of India, including 
Buddhism, we find the principle of the annihilation of the real 
world in favor of the ideal and of absolute abstraction. But it has 
not the added character of voluntary and deliberate negation which 
distinguishes Christianity; when those systems were conceived, the 
world of human thought, of will and of liberty, had not reached 
that stage of development which was afterwards seen in the Greek 
and Roman ciyi;liz atiQ&- 



GOD AND THE STATE 77 

that necessity of shaking off thought and becoming brutally 
stupid so frequently felt by surfeited minds: 

Credo quod absurdum. 

I believe in the absurd; I believe in it, precisely and 
mainly, because it is absurd. In the same way many dis 
tinguished and enlightened minds in our day believe in ani 
mal magnetism, spiritualism, tipping tables, and why go so 
far? believe still in Christianity, in idealism, in God. 

The belief of the ancient proletariat, like that of the 
modern, was more robust and simple, less haut gout. The 
Christian propagandism appealed to its heart, not to its 
mind; to its eternal aspirations, its necessities, its suffer 
ings, its slavery, not to its reason, which still slept and 
therefore could know nothing about logical contradictions 
and the evidence of the absurd. It was interested solely 
in knowing when the hour of promised deliverance would 
strike, when the kingdom of God would come. As for theo 
logical dogmas, it did not trouble itself about them because 
it understood nothing about them. The proletariat con 
verted to Christianity constituted its growing material but 
not its intellectual strength. 

As for the Christian dogmas, it is known that they were 
elaborated in a series of theological and literary works and 
in the Councils, principally by the converted neo^Platonists 
of the Orient. The Greek mind had fallen so low that, in 
the fourth century of the Christian era, the period of the 
first Council, the idea of a personal God, pure, eternal, 
absolute mind, creator and supreme master, existing outside 
of the world, was unanimously accepted by the Church 
Fathers ; as a logical consequence of this absolute absurdity, 
it then became natural and necessary to believe in the im 
materiality and immortality of the human soul, lodged and 
imprisoned in a body only partially mortal, there being in 
this body itself a portion which, while material, is immortal 
like the soul, and must be resurrected with it. We see how 
difficult it was, even for the Church Fathers, to conceive 



7 GOD AND THE STATE 

pure minds outside of any material form. It should be 
added that, in general, it is the character of every meta 
physical and theological argument to seek to explain one 
absurdity by another. 

It was very fortunate for Christianity that it met a 
world of slaves. It had another piece of good luck in the 
invasion of the Barbarians. The latter were worthy people, 
full of natural force, and, above all, urged on by a great 
necessity of life and a great capacity for it; brigands who 
had stood every test, capable of devastating and gobbling up 
anything, like their successors, the Germans of to-day; but 
they were much less systematic and pedantic than these 
last, much less moralistic, less learned, and on the other 
hand much more independent and proud, capable of science 
and not incapable of liberty, as are the bourgeois of modern 
Germany. But, in spite of all their great qualities, they 
were^nothing but barbarians that is, as indifferent to all 
questions of theology and metaphysics as the ancient slaves, 
a great number of whom, moreover, belonged to their race. 
So that, their practical repugnance once overcome, it was 
not difficult to convert them theoretically to Christianity. 

For ten centuries Christianity, armed with the omni 
potence of Church and State and opposed by no competition, 
was able to deprave, debase, and falsify the mind of Europe. 
It had no competitors, because outside of the Church there 
were neither thinkers nor educated persons. It alone 
thought, it alone spoke and wrote, it alone taught. Though 
heresies arose in its bosom, they affected only the theologi 
cal or practical developments of the fundamental dogma, 
never that dogma itself. The belief in God, pure spirit and 
creator of the world, and the belief in the immateriality of 
the soul remained untouched. This double belief became 
the ideal basis of the whole Occidental and Oriental civil 
ization of Europe; it penetrated and became incarnate in 
all the institutions, all the details of the public and private 
life of all classes, and the masses as well. 

After that, is it surprising that this belief has lived until 



GOD AND THE STATE 79 

the present day, continuing to exercise its disastrous in 
fluence even upon select minds, such as those of Mazzini, 
Michelet, Quinet, and so many others? We have seen that 
the first attack upon it came from the renaissance of the 
free mind in the fifteenth century, which produced heroes 
and martyrs like Vanini, Giordano Bruno, and Galileo. Al 
though drowned in the noise, tumult, and passions of the 
Reformation, it noiselessly continued its invisible work, be 
queathing to the noblest minds of each generation its task 
of human emancipation by the destruction of the absurd, 
until at last, in the latter half of the eighteenth century, it 
again reappeared in broad day, boldly waving the flag of 
atheism and materialism. 

The human mind, then, one might have supposed, was 
at last about to deliver itself from all the divine obsessions. 
Not at all. The divine falsehood upon which humanity had 
been feeding for eighteen centuries (speaking of Christian 
ity only) was once more to show itself more powerful than 
human truth. No longer able to make use of the black 
tribe, of the ravens consecrated by the Church, of the Catho 
lic or Protestant priests, all confidence in whom had been 
lost, it made use of lay priests, short-robed liars and sophists, 
among whom the principal roles devolved upon two fatal 
men, one the falsest mind, the other the most doctrinally 
despotic will, of the last century J. J. Rousseau and Robe 
spierre. 

The first is the perfect type of narrowness and suspi 
cious meanness, of exaltation without other object than his 
own person, of cold enthusiasm and hypocrisy at once senti 
mental and implacable, of the falsehood of modern ideal 
ism. He may be considered as the real creator of modern 
reaction. To all appearance the most democratic writer of 
the eighteenth century, he bred within himself the pitiless 
despotism of the statesman. He was the prophet of the doc 
trinaire State, as Robespierre, his worthy and faithful dis 
ciple, tried to become its high priest. Having heard the 
saying of Voltaire that, if God did not exist, it would be 



80 GOD AND THE STATE 

necessary to invent him, J. J. Rousseau invented the Su 
preme Being, the abstract and sterile God of the deists. And 
it was in the name of the Supreme Being, and of the hypo 
critical virtue commanded by this Supreme Being, that 
Robespierre guillotined first the Hebertists and then the very 
genius of the Revolution, Danton, in whose person he as 
sassinated the Republic, thus preparing the way for the 
thenceforth necessary triumph of the dictatorship of Bona 
parte I. After this great triumph, the idealistic reaction 
sought and found servants less fanatical, less terrible, 
nearer to the diminished stature of the actual bourgeoisie. 
In France, Chateaubriand, Lamartine, and shall I say it? 
Why not? All must be said if it is truth Victor Hugo him 
self, the democrat, the republican, the quasi-socialist of to 
day ! and after them the whole melancholy and sentimental 
company of poor and pallid minds who, under the leadership 
of these masters, established the modern romantic school; 
in Germany, the Schlegels, the Tiecks, the Novalis, the 
Werners, the Schellings, and so many others besides, whose 
names do not even deserve to be recalled. 

The literature created by this school was the very reign 
of ghosts and phantoms. It could not stand the sunlight; 
the twilight alone permitted it to live. No more could it 
stand the brutal contact of the masses. It was the literature 
of the tender, delicate, distinguished souls, aspiring to heaven, 
and living on earth as if in spite of themselves. 
It had a horror and contempt for the politics and 
questions of the day; but when perchance it referred to 
them, it showed itself frankly reactionary, took the side of 
the Church against the insolence of the freethinkers, of the 
kings against the peoples, and of all the aristocrats against 
the vile rabble of the streets. For the rest, as I have just 
said, the dominant feature of the school of romanticism was 
a quasi-complete indifference to politics. Amid the clouds 
in which it lived could be distinguished two real points 
the rapid development of bourgeois materialism and the un 
governable outburst of individual vanities. 



GOD AND THE STATE 8l 

To understand this romantic literature, the reason for its 
existence must be sought in the transformation which had 
been effected in the bosom of the bourgeois class since the 
revolution of 1793. 

From the Renaissance and the Reformation down to the 
Revolution, the bourgeoisie, if not in Germany, at least in 
Italy, in France, in Switzerland, in England, in Holland, 
was the hero and representative of the revolutionary genius 
of history. From its bosom sprang most of the freethinkers 
of the fifteenth century, the religious reformers of the two 
following centuries, and the apostles of human emancipa 
tion, including this time those of Germany, of the past cen 
tury. It alone, naturally supported by the powerful arm of 
the people, who had faith in it, made the revolution of 1789 
and 93. It proclaimed the downfall of royalty and of the 
Church, the fraternity of the peoples, the rights of man and 
of the citizen. Those are its titles to glory; they are im 
mortal ! 

Soon it split. A considerable portion of the purchasers 
of national property having become rich, and supporting 
themselves no longer on the proletariat of the cities, but on 
the major portion of the peasants of France, these also hav 
ing become landed proprietors, had no aspiration left but 
for peace, the re-establishment of public order, and the 
foundation of a strong and regular government. It there 
fore welcomed with joy the dictatorship of the first Bona 
parte, and, although always Voltairean, did not view with 
displeasure the Concordat with the Pope and the re-estab 
lishment of the official Church in France: "Religion is so 
necessary to the peo-ple!" Which means that, satiated them 
selves, this portion of the bourgeoisie then began to see that 
it was needful to the maintenance of their situation and the 
preservation of their newly-acquired estates to appease the 
unsatisfied hunger of the people by promises of heavenly 
manna. Then it was that Chateaubriand began to preach.* 

*It seems to me useful to recall at this point an anecdote one, 
by the way, well known and thoroughly authentic which sheds 



82 GOD AND THE STATE 

Napoleon fell and the Restoration brought back into 
France the legitimate monarchy, and with it the power of 
the Church and of the nobles, who regained, if not the 
whole, at least a considerable portion of their former in 
fluence. This reaction threw the bourgeoisie back into the 
Revolution, and with the revolutionary spirit that of skep 
ticism also was re-awakened in it. It set Chateaubriand 
aside and began to read Voltaire again ; but it did not go so 
far as Diderot: its debilitated nerves could not stand nour 
ishment so strong. Voltaire, on the contrary, at once a 
freethinker and a deist, suited it very well. Beranger and 
P. L. Courier expressed this new tendency perfectly. The 
"God of the good people" and the ideal of the bourgeois 
king, at once liberal and democratic, sketched against the 
majestic and thenceforth inoffensive background of the Em 
pire s gigantic victories such was at that period the daily in 
tellectual food of the bourgeoisie of France. 

Lamartine, to be sure, excited by a vain and ridiculously 
envious desire to rise to the poetic height of the great Byron, 
had begun his coldly delirious hymns in honor of the God 
of the nobles and of the legitimate monarchy. But his 
songs resounded only in aristocratic salons. The bour 
geoisie did not hear them. Beranger was its poet and Cour 
ier was its political writer. 

The revolution of July resulted in lifting its tastes. We 
know that every bourgeois in France carries within him the 
imperishable type of the bourgeois gentleman, a type which 
never fails to appear immediately the parvenu acquires a 
little wealth and power. In 1830 the wealthy bourgeoisie 
had definitely replaced the old nobility in the seats of power. 

a very clear light on the personal value of this warmer-over of the 
Catholic beliefs and on the religious sincerity of that period. Chat 
eaubriand submitted to a publisher a work attacking faith. The 
publisher called his attention to the fact that atheism had gone out 
of fashion, that the reading public cared no more for it, and that 
the demand, on the contrary, was for religious works, phateau- 
briand withdrew, but a few months later came back with his Genius 
of Christianity. 



GOD ANI> THE STATE 83 

It naturally tended to establish a new aristocracy. An aris 
tocracy of capital first of all, but also an aristocracy of in 
tellect, of good manners and delicate sentiments. It began 
to feel religious. 

This was not on its part simply an aping of aristocratic 
customs. It was also a necessity of its position. The pro 
letariat had rendered it a final service in once more aiding 
it to overthrow the nobility. The bourgeoisie now had no 
further need of its co-operation, for it felt itself firmly 
seated in the shadow of the throne of July, and the alliance 
with the people, thenceforth useless, began to become incon 
venient. It was necessary to remand it to its place, which 
naturally could not be done without provoking great in 
dignation among the masses. It became necessary to re 
strain this indignation. In the name of what? In the name 
of the bourgeois interest bluntly confessed? That would 
have been much too cynical. The more unjust and inhuman 
an interest is, the greater need it has of sanction. Now, 
where find it if not in religion, that good protectress of all 
the well-fed and the useful consoler of the hungry? And 
more than ever the triumphant burgeoisie saw that religion 
was indispensable to the people. 

After having won all its titles to glory in religious, philo 
sophical, and political opposition, in protest and in revolu 
tion, it at last became the dominant class and thereby even 
the defender and preserver of the State, thenceforth the 
regular institution of the exclusive power of that class. The 
State is force, and for it, first of all, is the right of force, 
the triumphant argument of the needle-gun, of the chasse- 
pot. But man is so singuarly constituted that this argu 
ment, wholly eloquent as it may appear, is not sufficient in 
the long run. Some moral sanction or other is absolutely 
necessary to enforce his respect. Further, this sanction must 
be at once so simple and so plain that it may convince the 
masses, who, after having been reduced by the power of the 
State, must also be induced to morally recognize its right. 

There are onlyjtwo way^of cojivjncing; the masses of the 
goodness of any soaarinsfitutibn whatever? The first, the 



84 GOD AND THE STATE 

only real one, but also the most difficult to adopt because it 
implies the abolition of the State, or, in other words, the 
abolition of the organized political exploitation of the ma 
jority by any minority whatsoever would be the direct and 
complete satisfaction of the needs and aspirations of the 
people, which would be equivalent to the complete liquida 
tion of the political and economical existence of the bour 
geois class, or, again, to the abolition of the State. Bene 
ficial means for the masses, but detrimental to bourgeois in 
terests ; hence it is useless to talk about them. 

The only way, on the contrary, harmful only to the peo 
ple, precious in its salvation of bourgeois privileges, is no 
other than religion. That is the eternal mirage which leads 
away the masses in a search for divine treasures, while, 
much more reserved, the governing class contents itself with 
dividing among all its members very unequally, moreover, 
and always giving most to him who possesses most the 
miserable goods of earth and the plunder taken from the 
people, including their political and social liberty. 

There is not, there cannot be, a State without religion. 
Take the freest States in the world the United States of 
America or the Swiss Confederation, for instance and see 
what an important part is played in all official discourses by 
divine Providence, that supreme sanction of all States. 

But whenever a chief of State speaks of God, be he Wil 
liam I., the Knouto-Germanic emperor, or Grant, the presi 
dent of the great republic, be sure that he is getting ready 
to shear once more his people-flock. 

The French liberal and Voltairean bourgeoisie, driven 
by temperament to a positivism (not to say a materialism) 
singularly narrow and brutal, having become the governing 
class of the State by its triumph of 1830, had to give itself 
an official religion. It was not an easy thing. The bour 
geoisie could not abruptly go back under the yoke of Roman 
Catholicism. Between it and the Church of Rome was an 
abyss of blood and hatred, and, however practical and wise 
one becomes, it is never possible to repress a passion de 
veloped by history. Moreover, the French bourgeoisie 



GOD AND THE STATE 85 

would have covered itself with ridicule if it had gone back 
to the Church to take part in the pious ceremonies of its 
worship, an essential condition of a meretorious and sincere 
conversion. Several attempted it, it is true, but their heroism 
was rewarded by no other result than a fruitless scandal. 
Finally, a return to Catholicism was impossible on account 
of the insolvable contradiction which separates the invari 
able politics of Rome from the development of the economi 
cal and political interests of the middle class. 

In this respect Protestantism is much more advantageous. 
It is the bourgeois religion par excellence. It accords just 
as^much liberty as is necessary to the bourgeois, and finds a 
way of reconciling celestial aspirations with the respect 
which terrestrial conditions demand. Consequently it is 
especially in Protestant countries that commerce and indus 
try have been developed. But it was impossible for the 
French bourgeoisie to become Protestant. To pass from 
one religion to another unless it be done deliberately, as 
sometimes in the case of the Jews of Russia and Poland, 
who get baptised three or four times in order to receive 
each time the remuneration allowed them to seriously 
change one s religion, a little faith is necessary. Now, in the 
exclusive positive heart of the French bourgeois, there is no 
room for faith. He professes the most profound indiffer 
ence for all questions which touch neither his pocket first 
nor his social vanity afterwards. He is as indifferent to 
Protestantism as to Catholicism. On the other hand, the 
French bourgeois could not go over to Protestantism with 
out putting himself in conflict with the Catholic routine of 
the majority of the French people, which would have been 
great imprudence on the part of a class pretending to gov 
ern the nation. 

There was still one way left to return to the humani 
tarian and revolutionary religion of the eighteenth century. 
But that would have led too far. So the bourgeoisie was 
obliged, in order to sanction its new State, to create a new 
religion which might be boldly proclaimed, without too much 
ridicule and scandal, by the whole bourgeois class. 



86 GOD AND THE STATE 

Thus was born doctrinaire Deism. 

Others have told, much better than I could tell it, the 
story of the birth and development of this school, which 
had so decisive and we may well add so fatal an influence 
on the political, intellectual, and moral education of the bour 
geois youth of France. It dates from Benjamin Constant 
and Madame de Stae l ; its real founder was Royer-Collard ; 
its apostles, Guizot, Cousin, Villemain, and many others. 
Its boldly avowed object was the reconciliation of Revolu 
tion with Reaction, or, to use the language of the school, of 
the principle of liberty with that of authority, and naturally 
to the advantage of the latter. 

This reconciliation signified : in politics, the taking away 
of popular liberty for the benefit of bourgeois rule, repre 
sented by the monarchical and constitutional State; in phil 
osophy, the deliberate submission of free reason to the eter 
nal principles of faith. We have only to deal here with 
the latter. 

We know that this philosophy was specially elaborated 
by M. Cousin, the father of French eclecticism. A superfi 
cial and pedantic talker, incapable of any original concep 
tion, of any idea peculiar to himself, but very strong on com 
monplace, which he confounded with common sense, this il 
lustrious philosopher learnedly prepared, for the use of the 
studious youth of France, a metaphysical dish of his own 
making, the use of which, made compulsory in all schools 
of the State under the University, condemned several gen 
erations one after the other to a cerebral indigestion. Im 
agine a philosophical vinegar sauce of the most opposed sys 
tems, a mixture of Fathers of the Church, scholastic phil 
osophers, Descartes and Pascal, Kant and Scotch psycholo 
gists, all this a superstructure on the divine and innate ideas 
of Plato, and covered up with a layer of Hegelian imma 
nence, accompanied, of course, by an ignorance, as con- 
temntuons as it is complete, of natural science, and proving, 
nipt as two times two make five, the existence of a personal 
God 



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