Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Joseph Déjacque, "The Humanisphere" (Part III)

[I've posted parts of The Humanisphere before, and talked a bit about the difficulties involved. Slowly, but surely, I'm working my way through the work, but not necessarily tackling the sections in order. This is the final section.]


by Joseph Déjacque

Part III

The Transitional Period.

How will the progress be accomplished? What means will prevail? What route will be chosen? That is what is it is difficult to determine in an absolute manner. But whatever these means, whatever the route, if it is a step towards anarchic liberty, I will applaud it. Let the progress take place by the arbitrary scepter of the czars or by the independent hand of the republics; let it be by the Cossacks of Russia or the proletarians of France, German, England or Italy in whatever manner the unity should come about, let the national feudalism disappear, and I will shout bravo. Let the soil, divided in a thousand fractions, be unified and formed into vast agricultural associations, the associations could even be, like the railroad corporations, usurious exploitations, and I will still cry bravo. Let the proletarians of the city and country organize themselves in corporations and replace wages with vouchers [bon de circulation], boutiques with bazaars, private monopoly with public exhibition and the commerce in capital with the exchange of products; let them subscribe in common to a mutual insurance and found a bank of reciprocal credit; let them begin to decree the abolition of all sorts of usury, and always I will shout bravo. Let women participate in all the advantages of society, as she does in all its burdens; let marriage disappear; let us suppress inheritance and employ the product of the successions to dower each mother with a pension for the feeding and education of her child; let us take from prostitution and begging ever chance of occurring; let us take the pickaxe to the barracks and the churches, raze them, and build on their sites monuments of public utility; let arbitrators replace the official judges and individual contract to the law; let universal registration [l'inscription universelle], as Girardin understands it, demolish the prisons penal colonies, the penal code and the scaffold; let the smallest, or the slowest, reforms be given rein, reforms with the scales and legs of a turtle, and provided they are real progresses and not harmful palliatives, a step into the future and not a return to the past, and with both hands I will cheer them on with my applause.
Everything that has become big and strong was first puny and week. The human being of today is incomparably greater in science, and more powerful in industry than the man of the past. Everything that begins with monstrous dimensions is not born viable. The fossilized monstrosities have preceded the birth of humanity as the civilized societies still precede the creation of harmonic societies. The earth requires the fertilizer of dead plants and animals to render it productive, as humans required the detritus of rotten civilizations to render them social and fraternal. The times reap what time has sown. The future supposes the past and the past a future; the present oscillates between these two movements without being about to keep balance, and is drawn by an irresistible magnetic attraction toward the unknown. We cannot resist Progress indefinitely. There is an irresistible weight that will always and despite everything drag down one of the trays of the scale. We can certainly violently resist it for a moment, jolt things in the opposite direct, subject it to reactionary pressures; but when the pressure fades, it will just regain, and more strongly, its natural inclination, and affirm more vigorously the power of the Revolution. Ah! Instead of clinging with rage to the branch of the Past, instead of agitating ourselves about it unsuccessfully and covering our powerlessness with blood, let us allow the social pendulum to swing freely towards the Future. And, one hand resting in the ropes, feet on the edge of the spherical plateau, oh you, gigantic aeronaut who has the terrestrial globe for a gondola, Humanity, do not block your eyes, do not tremble with fright, do not tear your chest with your nails, don’t clasp your hands in a sign of distress: fear is a bad adviser, it peoples our thoughts with ghosts. Raise, on the contrary, the veil of your eyelids and look, eagle, with your pupils: look and greet the limitless horizons, the luminous, azure depths of the Infinite, all these splendors of anarchy universal. Queen, who has for jewels in her crown the gems of intelligence, oh! be worthy of your sovereignty. Everything that is before you is your domain, the vastness that is your empire. Enter there, beautiful human, mounted on the terrestrial globe, your triumphant aerostat, and led by the doves of attraction. Stand, blonde sovereign, — mother, not this time of a sick child, of a love [that is] blind and armed with poisoned arrows, but on the contrary of men in possession of all their senses, of clear-sighted loves, armed with a productive mind and arm. Go, Majesty, fly at your prow your flag of purple, and sail, diadem on the head and scepter in the hand, in the midst of cheers for the Future!...
Two sons of the Bourgeoisie, who have partially renounced their bourgeois education and sworn themselves to [the cause of] liberty, Ernest Cœurderoy and Octave Vauthier, together in a pamphlet, la Barrière du Combat, and one of them in his book la Révolution dans l'homme et dans la société, prophesy the regeneration of society by a Cossack invasion. They rely, in order to make this judgment, on the analogy that they see existing between our society in decline and Roman decadence. They maintain that socialism will only be established in Europe when Europe is one. From an absolute point of view, yes, they are right to claim that liberty must be everywhere or nowhere. But it is not only in Europe, it is all over the globe that unity must be made before socialism in its catholicity, embracing the whole world with its roots, can rise high enough to shelter Humanity from the cruel storms, and [bring it to the harbor of] the charms of universal and reciprocal fraternity. To be logical, it is not only the invasion of France by the Cossacks that we must call for, but also the invasion of the Sepoys of Hindustan, of the Chinese, Mongol and Tartar multitudes, of the savages of New Zealand and Guinea, Asia, Africa and Oceania; that of the Red-Skins of the two Americas and of the Anglo-Saxons of the United State, more savage than the Red-Skins; we would have to call all of these tribes from the four corners of the earth to the conquest and domination of Europe. But no. The conditions are no longer the same. The means of communication are completely different than they were in the times of the Romans; the sciences have made an immense step forward. It is not only on the banks of the Neva of the Danube that there now rise up hordes of Barbarians summoned to the sack of Civilization, but on the banks of the Seine and the Rhône, the Thames and the Tagus, the Tiber and the Rhine. — It is from the empty furrow, it is from the floor of the workshop, it is sweeping along, in its floods of men and women, the pitchfork and the torch, the hammer and the gun; it is under the farmer’s overalls and the smock of the worker; it is with the hunger in the belly and the fever in the heart, but under the supervision of the Idea, that Attila of the modern invasion; it is under the generic name of the proletariat and rolling its eager masses towards the luminous centers of the utopian City; it is from Paris, London, Vienna, Berlin, Madrid, Lisbon, Rome, Naples, that, raising up its enormous waves and pushed by its insurrectionary flood, the devastating torrent will overflow. It is at the noise of the social tempest, it is in the current of that regenerating deluge that Civilization will collapse in decadence. It is at the breath of the innovating spirit that the popular ocean will bound up from its gulf. It is the [stormy] turmoil of new ideas that will bring down the heads and thrones of the civilized and pass with its level of iron and fire over the ruins. It is this that will drown in blood and flames all the notarized and certified deeds, and the procurers of those deeds, and will make the parceled and appropriated soil a collective whole. This time it is not darkness that the Barbarians will bring to the world, but light. The old order took from Christianity only the name and the letter, but they have killed its spirit; the new will not profess absolutely the letter, but the spirit of socialism. Wherever they can find a patch of social earth, they will plant the seed of the tree of Liberty. They will pitch their tent there, the nascent tribe of free people. From there they will project the branches of the propaganda everywhere they can be extended. They will increase in number and strength, in scientific and social progress. They will invade, step by step, idea by idea, all of Europe, from the Caucasus to Mount Hekla and from Gibraltar to the Urals. The tyrants will struggle in vain. Oligarchic Civilization cede the terrain ascendant advance of Social Anarchy. Europe conquered and freely organized, America must be socialized in its turn. The republic of the Union, this breeding ground of grocers who award themselves voluntarily the name of model republic, of which all the grandeur consists in the extent of the territory; this cesspool where wallow and croak all the villainies of mercantilism, filibusters of commerce and piracies of human flesh; this den of all the hideous and ferocious beasts  revolutionary Europe will have rejected from its breast, last rampart of bourgeois civilization, but where, also, some colonies of Germans, of revolutionaries of all nations, established within, will have driven into the earth the mileposts of Progress, laid down the first foundations of social reforms; this shapeless giant, this republic with a heart of stone, an icy face, a goitrous neck, a statue of cretinism whose feet rest on a bale of cotton and whose hands are armed with a whip and a Bible; harpy carrying a revolver and a knife in her teeth; thieving like a magpie, murderous like a tiger; vampire with bestial thirsts, who must always have gold or blood to suck... finally, the American Babel will tremble to its foundations. From the North to the South and from the East to the West will crash the thunder of the insurrections. The revolts of the proletarians and the revolt of the slaves will crack the States and the bones of the exploiters of these States. The flesh of the politicians and industrialists, of the bosses and masters, the shopkeepers and planters will smoke under the bloody feet of the proletarians and slaves. The monstrous American Union, the fossil Republic, will disappear in this cataclysm. Then the Social Republic of the United States of Europe span the Ocean and take possession of the new conquest. Blacks and whites, creoles and redskins will fraternize then and will found one single race. The killers of Negros and proletarians, the amphibians of liberalism and the carnivores of privilege will withdraw like the caymans and bears before the advance of social liberty. The gallows-birds, like the beasts of the forest dread the company of human beings. The libertarian fraternity will frighten the denizens of Civilization. They know that where human rights exist there is no place for exploitation. So they will flee to the most remote parts of the bayous, to the most unexplored caverns of the Cordilleras.
Thus socialism—first individual, then local, then national, then European, from ramification to ramification and from invasion to invasion—will become universal socialism. And one day there will no longer be a question of the little French Republic, nor of the little American Union, nor even of the little United States of Europe, but of the true, great and social Human Republic, single and indivisible, the Republic of human beings in the state of freedom, the Republic of the united individualities of the globe.

[working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Jean Grave, The Adventures of Nono — Chapter X


 [continued from Chapter IX]


The group was returning very slowly, without hurrying, when Nono saw a splendid death’s-head hawkmoth. He immediately decided to catch it. But when he tried to seize it, the insect, with an unexpected flap of its wings, escaped from the net and came fluttering, as if to taunt him, very close to the hunter who, carried away by the heat of the chase, soon found himself led far from his friends.
Finally, stopping near a large oak, the moth seemed within range, and Nono thought the moment favorable to capture it. He calculated the distance that separated him from the insect, grasped the handle of the net and swung it... right on the nose of a stout gentleman, pot-bellied, finely dressed, with coarse features and a flat nose; an enormous gold chain dangled over his paunch. Diamonds adorned his shirt-front, a big carbuncle shone at the knot of his cravat; his fingers were covered with rings. He leaned on a golden walking stick.
“Well, sonny, pay attention. A little more and you would have flattened my nose.” — Nono thought to himself that it would have been hard to make it flatter. — “You didn’t intend, did you, to take me in your net? It seems a little bit small for that.
And pleased with what he took to be a fine joke, the fat man laughed in loud bursts. But his laugh sounded false, and his face was far from inspiring  sympathy, when you examined it up close.
But Nono was a little bit young to be a physiognomist. And if he was frightened, it was at the sudden appearance of the fat man, and at finding himself far from his comrades, recalling the recommendations of Solidaria.
However, as he heard, at intervals, the songs and the bursts of laughter of the little troop, he realized that they could not be very far off, which reassured him a bit.
However, it did not explain very well how he had found a fat man under his net when it was a moth that he had chased.
“Pardon me, sir; I didn’t see you. I was pursuing a moth that I wanted to catch when I struck you with my net. Did I hurt you?
“No, it is nothing. You caught me on the tip of the nose,” said the fat man, rubbing it. “But how is it that you are all alone, running after moths?”
“Oh! I am not alone, Nono quickly replied, still dominated by a vague fear. My friends are playing in the woods ... You hear them!” And he listened.
“Ah! And you came to walk here, with your schoolmasters?
“We have no masters,” Nono said proudly. “They are friends! They work with us, play with us, teach us what they know, but do not force us to do what we do not know or do not want to do.”
“Oh! Little man, don’t get all up in arms,” laughed the fat man. "That's what I meant. I can see that you're from Autonomie. And does it please you to never be with anyone but children of your own age, and to always see and to the same things?
“We do not always do the same thing. We change our work and play as we wish, whenever we please.
“Yes, but that doesn’t prevent it from always being the same existence. Yu always see the same country, and the same people. Wouldn’t you like to travel, to see new countries?
“In the country where I live,continued the fat man, “we travel all the time. We go to the sea, and we go to the mountains. So, me, I have nothing to concern myself with but going for a stroll. It is enough to have a magic wand like I have — and he indicated his walked stick — in order to have all that one desires.
“So, here you are sweating from running around after an insect that you want, but you couldn’t catch. Me, without troubling myself, I will give you this silkmoth fluttery there, above that bush you see close to you.”
And, raising his wand in the direction that he indicated, he made a sign, and the silkmoth found itself in Nono’s hand.
The child took the insect fearfully and examined it attentively. It was a female of the order Lepidoptera. It seemed to him that the insect regarded him with a pleading look, while its legs shook with a convulsive trembling.
“Hey! Here is a pin to stick it in your collection,” said the man, holding out a thin, gold pin to Nono.”
But Nono opened his fingers, letting the insect escape. It flew away, whirring.
“You were wrong to do that,” said the fat man. “That was a very rare species. You could have got a good price for it, if you did not want if for your collection. Are you hungry? Thirsty? Sit, eat and drink. The table is set.”
He again extended his wand in the direction of the big oak. Nono, gaping, saw some tables set themselves, bearing a variety of dishes filled with meats, sauces, and pastries. Flasks containing drinks of all colors chilled in silver buckets full of ice.
“No, I am not hungry,” said Nono. The fat man began to interest him and seemed to him less ugly.
“You have a very nice air about you, and I like you,” said the fat man. “I would love to have a son like you. Will you follow me? I will show you lots of nice things you do not know about.”
Thank you, but I do not know you. I do not want to leave my friends from Autonomie. They would be too worried if they did not see me return.”
“You see that I can do anything I want. I have a way to prevent that.”
“No,” replied the child, his apprehensions returning. “I want to return to Solidaria.
“Do you think I’m lying? That I am not capable of showing you what I promised? Here! My pig-headed little friend, take these opera glasses. Look at the spectacles you could join in every day!”
Saying this, he propped on his belly a case that hung by a strap at his side and took out a magnificent pair of binoculars that he handed to the child.
Nono raised it to his eyes. He first distinguished a large room where a multitude of children were assembled. All sorts of sweets were passed out to them.
Then, they put on magnificent clothes; they climbed into fine carriages pulled by pretty white horses, driven by little coachmen wearing powdered wigs, high riding boots, and clothes tasseled at all the seems.
Then, they were sent in sturdier carriages, across the plain and to the sea; then into the mountains, which they climbed on mules. And then parties, everywhere. He could see that they were only concerned with enjoying themselves.
However, Nono noticed that their faces, at times, had an air of strain and boredom, like he had not known since he came to Autonomie.
The scenes changed again. He saw again a large semicircular room, lined with large gold-fringed draperies. From the floor to the ceiling, that room was divided into compartments also lined with draperies and fringes of gold. In those compartments, gentlemen in shirts of blinding whiteness and black jackets, women in low-cut dresses covered with diamonds, children lavishly dressed.
At the back of the room, on the stage, another group of people, still more lavishly dressed, appeared to him, moved, danced to the sound of a music that was sometimes sweet and mysterious, sometimes brisk and lively.
Nono, dazzled by all that movement, by the countless lights that lit the room took the binoculars from his eyes, amazed.
“Well?” questioned the tempter, insidiously.
“Oh! That is beautiful!” And he asked himself if he would not follow the man.
Then, wanting to take one last look, he put the binoculars to his eyes again. But having inadvertently turned the glasses around, he saw a horrible spectacle.
He barely had the time to distinguish some filthy, labyrinthine streets, houses like barracks, squalid dwellings, inhabited by a miserable, ragged population, with faces marked with suffering, occupied with tasks that he had no time to distinguish, but which seemed repugnant.
He only had time for a glimpse. The binoculars were violently torn from his hands by the fat man, who said to him, in a harsh voice:
Do not look that way. It is not your affair, and it is not worth the trouble anyway.”
Nono, taken aback, stared at the man with a frightened air!
But he had recovered his smooth demeanor, and it was in an oily voice that he continued:
“I have frightened you; but it is because I have been frightened myself. That item is one of a kind. I would not trade those opera glasses for anything, and I saw that you were about to drop them.
Nono wondered if he had actually seen, or if it was not an illusion. He calmed down a little, but his first fears had returned. He recoiled from the man, and in an altered voice, he cried, “Hans! Mab!”
“What a fool you are,” said the man, trying to take his hand. “Decide, and I’ll take you. But hurry, because I’m in a hurry!”
They heard the voices of Hans, Dick and Mab, who called to their absent comrade.
And Nono stepped by further from the man, calling his friends.
“Where are you hiding?” said the voice of Hans, who, this time, seemed very close.
“Over here, over here,” called Nono.
He saw Hans appear from a thicket, then Dick, and then Mab from a nearby path.
“How you scared us,” they said, all together. “We thought you were lost. We have searched for you for an hour.” And they all hugged his neck.
The fat man had disappeared.
Nono was going to tell his friends about his adventure; but as at one time he had been close to letting himself be won over and following the man, he didn’t dare admit to his friend that he had been at the point of forgetting and abandoning them; a false shame restrained him. He resolved to conceal his adventure, telling only what led to the pursuit of the moth that he had lost. Explaining his emotion by the fear he had felt at finding himself alone, isolated, fearing he wouldn’t be able to rejoin his friends.
“Ah! There was no danger that we would forget you,” said Hans; “we would have spent the night searching for you instead.”
And as the other children called, they went towards the bulk of the column, responding to their calls.
Hans’ last words were a cruel reproach for Nono who felt some ingratitude toward them, blaming himself for having wanted to leave them for the first unknown to come along.
He was more and more convinced that he should conceal his adventure, maintaining his silence in that regard.
In this he was still more wrong, for Solidaria would have warned him that the fat man was none other than Monnaïus, the eternal enemy of Solidaria and her children: that would have put him on his guard, and he would have avoided greater misfortunes thereafter. But it is rare that a first mistake does not lead to others, and that a first lack of trust is not followed by one or even several lies.

[to be continued in Chapter XI]
[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Jean Grave, The Adventures of Nono — Chapter IX


 [continued from Chapter VIII]


Nono had been in Autonomie for some time, and that time seemed to have passed like a dream.
The time passed quietly; each day brought diverse labors and pleasures, which prevented the children from being bored for a single minute.
Nono now knew all his comrades by name, knew who their parents were, what they did, and what country they came from.
Most of the time, school-hours were spent in the gardens, on the lawns; but, for variety, they had long since planned a long walk in the woods that bordered the country of Autonomie. And that day had come.
On the night before, they prepared all the gear necessary for that excursion, which would be, at the same time, a lesson in natural history.
They had to carry little walking sticks, equipped with hammers, to detach bits of rocks, and little iron spades, to dig up, roots and all, the plants that they wanted to study or bring back to Autonomie... Some nets, to catch insects in flight, completed that naturalist’s kit.
The supplies were packed in small bags, fit to the shoulders of the little boys who, being the strongest, were in charge of carrying the provisions of the troupe. Each had, in addition, a lunch sack, a canteen, and a cup hung at their side.
When everyone was ready, they set out, early in the morning, before the sun became too warm, and made the walk too tiring.
Initiativa, another good spirit of Autonomie, the sister of Liberta and Solidaria, led the column.
The children walked, chatter among themselves or singing ballads that Harmomia, daughter of Solidaria, had composed for them.
It was only when they had reach some less familiar paths that they began to concern themselves with finding some uncommon species to serve for the basis of the lesson when they stopped. Each went exploring along the trail, and under the bushes, taking care only to keep walking in the direction of their stopping place.
For his part, Nono discovered some splendid flowers, with the shape of a long-necked vase. He ran, breathless, to show his find to Botanicus, one of their teachers, saying:
“Look, Mr. Botanicus, at the fine flytrap I just found!” and he very carefully opened one of the flowers, which was torn, but, despite his precautions, two or three little flies, with green-gold glints, flew out.
Botunicus took the flowers, then adjusted his gold glasses on his nose, and declared:
“This is the Aristolochia clematitis, Birthwort, a plant of the Aristolochiaceae family, and not a common flytrap. What could make you believe that it is, is that, indeed, when that plant is is in bloom, it is designed so as to allow the entry of small insects like the ones you see imprisoned. But you see these hairs that are planted along the deck on the inside of the flower, the points of which are pointed at the bottom?
And he showed them the inside the open flower.
“Well, as long as the flower is not fertilized, the hairs that let many flies enter, prevent them from leaving. The flies, struggling, let pollen, which they have carried in from outside, fall on the stigmas of the flower. As soon as the flower is fertilized, the hairs fall and let the prisoners escape; but, first, the anthers open, releasing the pollen that they contain, and the flies carry it to other plants.
And he showed them a more mature flower, where the hairs inside had indeed fallen.
Botanicus was an original being who had only recently come to live in Autonomie. He knew all the natural history by heart; at first sight, he could tell the name, family, genus, species, habitat, and flowering time, if it was a plant; the spawning time, it was an insect. He was a real walking dictionary.
But, apart from natural history, he was phenomenally naive. Clumsy with his fingers, he was incapable of any manual labor. When he wanted to help others in the colony, it was rare that some accident did not occur. If he wanted, for example, to help set the table, one was sure to see stacks of plates broken, or a bottle or two of milk spilled on the tablecloth.
In the beginning, the children had tried to make him understand that they were faster without him, but Botanicus, who insisted on making himself useful, persisted in wanting to help whenever work presented itself; so that the Autonomiens made up their minds to simply strive to prevent the accidents when they saw them about to occur.
Before coming to Autonomie, he had a job as a professor of plant physiology in a laboratory in Paris. If he had had the smallest shred of ambition, a bit of flexibility, was able to flatter the men in power, and possessed a bit more skill at bending the truths and comparisons that came out of his lessons, he would doubtless have attained a high position, with great honors and large salaries.
But, absorbed by his favorite passion, study, he concerned himself very little with these petty concerns. He was delighted when he was able to classify a new species, or when he came to discover some unknown aspect of insect behavior.
More than once, during his lessons, he would issue new insights he derived from his studies and apply them to social life, which, most often, went against the theories that the men of power taught.
Botanicus was far from doing this is a spirit of opposition. To tell the truth, most often he expressed his most subversive ideas without suspecting that he made a critique against the society in which he lived; but they were only the more terrible for their scientific truth. So, places, honors and fat salaries went to less leaned, whose science was made up from lessons learned rather than  individual studies, but who knew how to ingeniously dress up and disguise the truths, when the happened to be found in their lessons.
And one fine day, under the pretext of cutting costs, they cut Botanicus’ chair, to rid themselves of the embarrassing professor.
Botanicus entered a school where they taught official science to the little offspring of those who call themselves the “Establishment;” but, one more, he could not hold his tongue, and as he had a very indulgent, character, could not speak any harsh words, let alone punish the horrible little brats, who trembled before their previous teacher, who overburdened them with homework, bad grades, a forbidding them from leaving, were not slow to make fun of the new one, to play the most terrible tricks on him, which served as a pretext for the administration to dismiss him, and put him on the street.
Solidaria, who knew him, had brought him to Autonomie, putting at his disposition plants, insects, instruments and everything that he would need for his studies, on the single condition that he teach others what he knew. Botanicus had accepted gladly; for there was no greater pleasure for him, when he had made a discovery, than to share it with everyone.
After living some time in Autonomie, he was not slow to realize how much his faculties had been distorted by limiting himself to a single study; that is why he had tried to get used to the ordinary things in life; but, with each mistake, he understood that it was too late. So, with a big, resigned smile, he said to the children:
“I am too old to change now. You must, my children, take me as I am. But let my example be a lesson for you. Don’t let your preferences prevent you from being aware, even of the things that seem least important.
Such was the man. But let us return to our walk. Just now, I see Pat who advances with a plant that he has just dug up, and that he seems to examine with great interest.
“Mr. Botanicus, look at this funny plant. I think it is a fly trap!”
“Here,” said Botanicus, securing his glasses, and raising the plant to the level of his eyes, “is the Dionaea muscipula, a sort of plant from the droseraceae family, with radical leaves, cut on the edges with deep indentations, of which the two halves — as you can see” — and they admired the plant — “are dyed a pretty flesh-pink and snap back suddenly, like a bear trap, on the insect which, attracted by the brilliance of that color, is imprudent enough to settle there.
“But that plant does not only take prisoners, it eats them!”
And as the children opened their questioning eyes:
Yes, they eat them! not like you eat an apple with the mouth and teeth. But leave it for some time with that fly that it has taken, the leaf that has closed will reopen, but there will no longer be a fly. It will have digested it!”
“Mr. Botanicus! Mr. Botanicus, said Mab, rushing up. Come see a black insect, which rolls a ball ten times as big as him.
“That,” said Botanicus, when he had arrived, always armed with his glasses, near the insects, “is the Scerabeus sacer, a beetle distinguished by a rasped front, the prothorax of which is, on the sides, lined with little raised points, marked at the elytra with six slight longitudinal grooves. The hind legs are without points on their rear edge; it has a black fringe at the head, thorax and legs. The females have red-brown hind legs. A slightly shiny black coloration finishes the characterization of the sacred scarab. The Egyptians had a great veneration for them. They made them the symbol of life.
It will bury that ball that you see it rolling; inside, an egg is deposited. When the little one is hatched, it will only have its cradle to eat, made of the most delicate part of that ball that you see ground up by that band of scarabs of all sorts, which deserve the name of dung beetles that is given to them.”
Botanicus had stopped to breath, while the children examined the very busy insects.
They indeed saw them moving in the sticky mass. They could witness the construction of the ball that has so intrigued the children.
A sacred scarab gathered under its belly, the parts that it had chosen, and gave them a first shape, then began to roll the plug with its legs, finished rounding it off by gradually adding material.
“If we had the time,” said Botanicus who had recovered his breath,we could follow this insect in his work. We would see some of them who make balls the size of an apple. There are some who make them the size of a fist. Then you could admire their ingenuity in rolling them up to the place where they have resolved to bury them, and also, how, sometimes, some of their fellow creatures are found who, under the pretext of helping them, rob them of fruit of their labor, just as it happens among human beings. — But that would take too much time. We must be on our way.”
And, little by little, the group spread along the paths, through the shrubs, in search of some curiosity. They stopped from time to time to rally the stragglers.
Having already walked for a few hours, the children began to feel their appetites awaken, when they came to a large clearing, carpeted with a beautiful lawn of short, thick grass. At the center rose a magnificent cedar tree, under which they set their table.
Not far away, shaded by a huge willow, welled a fresh spring, where the went to supply themselves with water to mix with the excellent beverages made with the fruits that they harvested in Autonomie.
The provisions unpacked, they did them justice, for the hikers had built up an appetite. Then, when things calmed down a bit, the happy, exuberant children overwhelmed Solidaria, Botanicus, and Initiativa with questions and requests on all sorts of things.
Botanicus, for his part, had a lot to do to respond to all, with the name of a plant, its classification, the use of some of its organs, its properties, its special features.
For the insects, when they were well examined, they were given their freedom, from which the butterflies, especially, were hardly able to profit after so much handling, their delicate wings having been subjected to too much damage to be much use to them.
It was the great recommendation of Solidaria to only take those that were absolutely necessary, and to take the greatest care in catching them, in order not to crease their wings.
Finally, when everyone was rested, they set on their way. But they had had enough botanizing, Botanicus led the little band to a quarry where he could give them some basic notions of geology.
It was a sand pit, open to the sky, where they could descend to the bottom. Botanicus noted that the land mass was made up of several beds of different colors and material, explaining to them that this differentiation of the layers was due to the various causes that combined there; that they were deposits that were brought by the waters and slowly accumulated, each layer requiring thousands and tens of thousands of years.
Then, digging in the sand, they happened to find some of those flints carved by primitive peoples to serve as instruments, tools and weapons, and of which Botanicus had already spoken to them on other excursions.
This time, he showed them how to recognize a flint that had been intentially shaped, drawing the different shapes of those that they knew.
Having unearthed a kidney-shaped flint, and arming himself with a large, round stone, he tried to give them some notion of the way in which it is supposed that our ancestors struck in order to obtain this long blades, thin and sharp on the edges, that we suppose to have been knives; these others, wide, almost quadrangular, that we designate with the name of axes. But, despite all his attempts, he only managed to obtain some specimens that we very imperfect and very misshapen compared to those that they had discovered.
But, even so, it was enough to give the children an and idea of the mechanism of operation. The imperfection of the attempts, Botanicus explained to them, came from a lack of practice. The amenities of life in the present have so spoiled us, that if we had to return to the conditions existence of prehistoric peoples, we would have to display, to make what they hade with a rudimentary brain, an enormous amount of effort and intelligence.
Further along, stood a dolmen. Botanicus led his listeners to it. He pointed out the enormous weight of the large stones of which it was made. In France he added, we have long attributed their construction to the Gauls, claiming to recognize the altars on which they made their sacrifices; but if the Gauls were able to use them for that purpose, we now know that they existed long before them.
They were the funerary monuments of an unknown population that has left its traces across Europe and Africa. Some excavations carried out inside have allowed us to find some of the pottery and contemporary instruments of the men who carved the stone.
But as it was time to go, they hastily made a light snack on the leftovers from lunch, and went merrily on their way to Autonomie, keeping in groups.

[Continued in Chapter X]
[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

Are Hotels Immoral?

I've been trying to collect my contributions to various discussion threads, where the off-the-cuff stuff seems to advance the conversation, and I'm presenting them in the form of one-sided conversations, with just enough of the contributions of others to give context. Here's a bit from Reddit, on the question of occupancy and use property norms:

Q. Are Hotels Immoral?

A. No. If someone is actively maintaining a hotel, then they are obviously occupying and using it. A large hotel is likely to be a collectively owned affair, like most large enterprises under usufructory ownership.

A. Can that somebody hire people to help him or her occupy it and maintain it?
Q. Well, not without leaving the regime of occupancy and use property. It is possible that there might be reasons to respect such an arrangement in the midst of an occupancy-and-use-based community, but at the point where it looks like there is rent-seeking and exploitation of labor going on in a mutualist community, I suspect both the labor force and the customers are likely to start looking elsewhere. Mutualists markets are most likely to manifest profits in the form of a general reduction in costs, and capitalist profits will probably stick out like a sore thumb in that context.
Contracts can solve many underlying problems, and there are plenty of other ways to establish rules for human interaction. Mutualist markets would have their particular character, and forms of profit, precisely because the rules for interaction within them are governed by norms of reciprocity, "cost the limit of price," etc., rather than the norms dominant within capitalist markets.

Most uses of natural resources or real property have a basic cycle to them. For example, it is expected that we will be out of our homes as much as we are in them. A home is, in part, a fixed place where we keep the stuff we don't want or need to carry around all day -- just as it is, in part, a place where we sleep, a potentially private space, etc. If we're talking about agriculture, then it is expected that the land we are using will lie fallow sometimes, because of seasonal cycles or crop rotation. The folks running a hotel will be there, day in and day out, while guests will come and go, and staff will maintain the hotel for themselves and the guests alike.

Q. Doesn't that seem somewhat arbitrary, especially for things that have multiple uses?

A. Not particularly, since all we need to establish is that something is being used according the natural patterns of some form of use.
These use cycles are determined by the usual demands and conditions of particular kinds of resource use.
The argument against mutualist hotels depends on an understanding of "occupancy and use" which I've never seen a mutualist advance, and which also appears very different from the ways we customarily think about these issues now.
Presumably, though, any new process will also have its logical cycles. And, of course, experimentation is something we've done before, and should have no trouble recognizing as a use.

Actually, I've already given a number of examples. Cycles for agricultural use are determined by a mix of seasonal factors and developing conventions regarding "best practices" for crop rotation, fallow periods, etc. Our mutualist hotel will have guests who come and go, primarily for short stays, and hosts who are relatively stable. Etc. If I'm experimenting with a different agricultural method, then the nature of the experiment will determine how long I put resources to that use, and how much of the time during the experiment some or all of the resources might be idle. If I'm brewing small-batch beer, each experimental cycle will tend to be considerably shorter than an agricultural cycle -- unless perhaps I'm aging a batch.
It's a simple standard, easily adaptable to a range of resources and uses.
This all started because somebody thought mutualists thought hotels were "immoral." That's just a version of the "mutualists will take your house when you nip out for a quart of milk" claim, and both seem to fall rather decisively before the fact that occupancy and use always seems to involve some pattern of absence and presence, fairly predictably tied to the particular resources and the particular uses. Now, in some cases, that means that knowing whether or not a resource is currently in use might take a little research, but we expect that with all property regimes, so that can't really be a very serious objection.
Now, the "why" of occupancy and use comes from the proudhonian critique of property theories. Nothing stronger seems to hold up to scrutiny.