Page:Georges Sorel, Reflections On Violence (1915).djvu/30
REFLECTIONS ON VIOLENCE
I cannot deny myself the pleasure of quoting some of Pascal's Pensées which terribly embarrassed his contemporaries, and which have only been understood in our day. Pascal had considerable difficulty in freeing himself from the ideas of natural justice which he found in the philosophers; he abandoned them because he did not think them sufficiently imbued with Christianity. "I have passed a great part of my life believing that there was justice, and in this I was not mistaken, for there is justice according as God has willed to reveal it to us. But I did not take it so, and this is where I made a mistake, for I believed that our justice was essentially just, and that I possessed means by which I could know this and judge of it " (fragment 375 of the Braunschvieg edition). "Doubtless there are natural laws; but this good reason once corrupted,
justice implanted in us by our education; very few educated men have been able to free themselves from these ideas. While the philosophy of natural justice is in perfect agreement with that of force (understanding this word in the special meaning that I have given it in Chapters IV. and V.), it cannot be reconciled with my conception of the historical function of violence. The scholastic doctrines of natural right contain nothing but this simple tautology—what is just is good, and what is unjust is bad; as if in enunciating such a doctrine we did not implicitly admit that the just must adapt itself to the natural order of events. It was for a reason of this kind that the economists for a long time asserted that the conditions created under the capitalist regime of competition are perfectly just, because they result from the natural course of things; and inversely the makers of Utopias have always claimed that the actual state of the world was not natural enough; they have wished, consequently, to paint a picture of a society naturally better regulated and therefore juster.