When society has turned from within to without, all relations are overturned. Yesterday we were walking with our heads downwards; today we hold them erect, without any interruption to our life. Without losing our personality, we change our existence. Such is the nineteenth century Revolution.
The fundamental, decisive idea of this Revolution is it not this: NO MORE AUTHORITY, neither in the Church, nor in the State, nor in land, nor in money?
No more Authority! That means something we have never seen, something we have never understood; the harmony of the interest of one with the interest of all; the identity of collective sovereignty and individual sovereignty.
No more Authority! That means debts paid, servitude abolished, mortgages lifted, rents reimbursed, the expense of worship, justice, and the State suppressed; free credit, equal exchange, free association, regulated value, education, work, property, domicile, low price, guaranteed: no more antagonism, no more war, no more centralisation, no more governments, no more priests. Is not that Society emerged from its shell and walking upright?
No more Authority! That is to say further: free contract in place of arbitrary law; voluntary transactions in place of the control of the State; equitable and reciprocal justice in place of sovereign and distributive justice; rational instead of revealed morals; equilibrium of forces instead of equilibrium of powers; economic unity in place of political centralisation. Once more, I ask, is not this what I may venture to call a complete reversal, a turn-over, a Revolution?
O, personality of man! Can it be that for sixty centuries you have grovelled in this abjection? You call yourself holy and sacred, but you are only the prostitute, the unwearied and unpaid prostitute, of your servants, of your monks, and of your soldiers. You know it, and you permit it. To be GOVERNED is to be kept in sight, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue to do so.... To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorised, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under the pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolised, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and, to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonoured. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality. And to think that there are democrats among us who pretend that there is any good in government; Socialists who support this ignominy, in the name of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity; proletarians who proclaim their candidacy for the Presidency of the Republic! Hypocrisy! ...
Political economy is in fact the queen and ruler of this age, although its mercenaries are unwilling to admit it. It is political economy which directs everything, without appearing to do so. If Louis Bonaparte fails in his demand for prorogation, business is the cause. If the Constitution is not revised, it is the Stock Exchange which forbids. If the law of the 31st of May is revoked, or at least profoundly modified, it is commerce that has demanded it. If the Republic is invincible, it is because the interests protect it. If the peasant, of the earth from of old, embraces the Revolution, it is because the earth, his adored mistress, summons him. If we do not rest on Sunday, it is because industrial and mercantile influences are opposed to it ....
But you, Republicans of the old school, to whom the desire for advance is not lacking, and respect for authority is the only restraint, can you not for once give rein to your instincts? […] Forward then, cowards! You have half your body on the brink already. You have said: The Republic is above Universal Suffrage. If you understand the formula, you will not avoid the commentary:
THE REVOLUTION IS ABOVE THE REPUBLIC.