Page:Georges Sorel, Reflections On Violence (1915).djvu/219

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CHAPTER VI

THE ETHICS OF VIOLENCE

  I. Observations of P. Bureau and of P. de Rousiers—The era of martyrs—Possibility of maintaining the cleavage with very little violence, thanks to a catastrophic myth.

 II. Old habits of brutality in schools and workshops—The dangerous classes—Indulgence for crimes of cunning—Informers.

III. Law of 1884 passed to intimidate Conservative —Part played by Millerand in the Waldeck-Rousseau ministry—Motives behind present ideas on arbitration.

 IV. Search for the sublime in morality—Proudhon—No moral development in Trade Unionism—The "sublime" in Germany and the catastrophic conception.

I

There are so many legal precautions against violence, and our upbringing is directed towards so weakening our tendencies towards violence, that we are instinctively inclined to think that any act of violence is a manifestation of a return to barbarism. Peace has always been considered the greatest of blessings and the essential condition of all material progress, and it is for this reason that industrial societies have so often been contrasted favourably with military ones. This last point of view explains why, almost uninterruptedly since the eighteenth century, economists have been in favour of strong central authorities, and have troubled little about political liberties. Condorcet levels this reproach at the followers of Quesnay,

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