What is Property?/Sixth Proposition

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Sixth Proposition: Property is impossible, because it is the Mother of Tyranny.[edit]

What is government? Government is public economy, the supreme administrative power over public works and national possessions.

Now, the nation is like a vast society in which all the, citizens are stockholders. Each one has a deliberative voice in the assembly; and, if the shares are equal, has one vote at his disposal. But, under the regime of property, there is great inequality between the shares of the stockholders; therefore, one may have several hundred votes, while another has only one. If, for example, I enjoy an income of one million; that is, if I am the proprietor of a fortune of thirty or forty millions well invested, and if this fortune constitutes 1/30000 of the national capital,--it is clear that the public administration of my property would form 1/30000 of the duties of the government; and, if the nation had a population of thirty-four millions, that I should have as many votes as one thousand one hundred and thirty- three simple stockholders.

Thus, when M. Arago demands the right of suffrage for all members of the National Guard, he is perfectly right; since every citizen is enrolled for at least one national share, which entitles him to one vote. But the illustrious orator ought at the same time to demand that each elector shall have as many votes as he has shares; as is the case in commercial associations. For to do otherwise is to pretend that the nation has a right to dispose of the property of individuals without consulting them; which is contrary to the right of property. In a country where property exists, equality of electoral rights is a violation of property.

Now, if each citizen's sovereignty must and ought to be proportional to his property, it follows that the small stock holders are at the mercy of the larger ones; who will, as soon as they choose, make slaves of the former, marry them at pleasure, take from them their wives, castrate their sons, prostitute their daughters, throw the aged to the sharks,--and finally will be forced to serve themselves in the same way, unless they prefer to tax themselves for the support of their servants. In such a condition is Great Britain to-day. John Bull--caring little for liberty, equality, or dignity--prefers to serve and beg. But you, bonhomme Jacques?

Property is incompatible with political and civil equality; then property is impossible.

HISTORICAL COMMENTS.--1. When the vote of the third estate was doubled by the States-General of 1789, property was grossly violated. The nobility and the clergy possessed three-fourths of the soil of France; they should have controlled three-fourths of the votes in the national representation. To double the vote of the third estate was just, it is said, since the people paid nearly all the taxes. This argument would be sound, if there were nothing to be voted upon but taxes. But it was a question at that time of reforming the government and the constitution; consequently, the doubling of the vote of the third estate was a usurpation, and an attack on property.

2. If the present representatives of the radical opposition should come into power, they would work a reform by which every National Guard should be an elector, and every elector eligible for office,--an attack on property.

They would lower the rate of interest on public funds,--an attack on property.

They would, in the interest of the public, pass laws to regulate the exportation of cattle and wheat,--an attack on property.

They would alter the assessment of taxes,--an attack on property.

They would educate the people gratuitously,--a conspiracy against property.

They would organize labor; that is, they would guarantee labor to the workingman, and give him a share in the profits,--the abolition of property.

Now, these same radicals are zealous defenders of property,--a radical proof that they know not what they do, nor what they wish.

3. Since property is the grand cause of privilege and despotism, the form of the republican oath should be changed. Instead of, "I swear hatred to royalty," henceforth the new member of a secret society should say, "I swear hatred to property."