1887 The Secularization Yet to be Done [Guesde]

Le Socialiste, October 22, 1887. Translated by Mitch Abidor for marxists.org

The secularization of primary instruction, which our bourgeois republic doesn’t want, is nothing but the substitution of one religion for another. It’s a matter of placing the capitalist faith instead of the Christian faith in the brain in process of formation of working class France, for the greater security and profit of the economic and political exploiters.

In order to be convinced of this it’s enough to have children in a communal school and to cast a glance at the manuals that are put in their hands

It is thus that I personally browsed through the Première anée d’instruction morale et civique of a certain Pierre Laloi. And in that work, “included,” if you please,” in the list annexed to the ministerial circular of November 17, 1883 and furnished at no cost by the City of Paris to its communal schools” – I saw this which, instead of teaching my sons, like in the congregational schools, to “love” and “serve” an imaginary God -taught them to “love” and “serve” – and this, alas, isn’t imaginary – the shareholders of the Compagnie d’Anzin, the customs agents of M. Rouvier, and the triple stars of a Gallifet or a Boulanger scooped out of fédéré blood.

Instead of the miracle of a God “creating the world in six days,” what is taught our little ones is the miracle of capital giving, “life to the poor” through work, and they are called upon to find pleasure in this deed “when seeing the workers pass their Sundays in their clean white shirts, and to say to themselves: ‘It is I who did this!’” (page 41)

Instead of the miracle of the redemption of humanity by the collaboration of a virgin and a pigeon, there’s the miracle of the redemption of the working class though small change saved and invested since childhood, which change can only be transformed into a louis d’or through the theft by some of the products of the labor of others.

In place of the mystery of the “holy and indivisible trinity” we have the mystery of the reproductive value of money via its conversion into titles or shares.

Instead of the mystery of the incarnation we have the mystery of “competition profiting everyone because it obliges the worker to produce (read: sell himself) at the lowest price.”

Under pretext of education what they want – and what is clear on every page of this book – is, from the age of six or seven, to get the proletarians of tomorrow used to their poverty by preaching to them “the inevitability of the inequality of conditions.”

This means leading them to “produce as much as possible for their employers” by making it their duty “to apply themselves to their work as if they themselves had to sell the product,” and to be “neither lazy nor negligent and to not use as an excuse: “I give the boss his money’s worth,’ for by accepting the price that was offered them they committed themselves to working well.” (page 56).

It means turning them from strikes by depicting them as extremely dangerous and “costing workers and bosses considerable sums.” (page 60)

And let us not imagine that this Gospel of worker’s servitude, owed to the Pierre Laloi in question, is an exception.

Thanks to my role as a father, a few days ago, when the school year began, I got to know another work that is being imposed, this one by M. Gabriel Compayré. And the Eléments d’’education civique et morale of this member of the Chamber of Deputies, professor at the faculty of letters of Toulouse, laureate of the Académie francaise is even more degrading and in the same capital-adoring mode.

The economic section – twelve whole pages – is nothing but an attack against the 1880 Socialist Congress at Marseilles, which is twisted at will, made to pursue “the destruction of capital, which would be the ruin of the worker and the beginning of general poverty” (page 177), while he calls for the social approbation of the means of production, the substituting of order in production for the current anarchy, and assuring to all producers the entirety of their production.

In the form of letters between “Georges and the Teacher from X” and on the back of the “delegates of the worker societies,” they take up for the use and bourgeoisification of proletarian progeniture all of the economists’ stupidities against the Parti Ouvrier, from the “equalitarian sharing out of fortunes that won’t last two days,” (page 175) to the “legitimacy of capitalist property” page 177) and its usefulness “for laborers, to whom it assures work.” (id.)

It is written there in all seriousness that the bourgeois Revolution of 1789 was necessary because it “pursued the suppression of privileges” of the nobility and the clergy. But that the working class revolution of tomorrow would be “a crime” (p 175) because it would touch the privileges of the bourgeoisie… And after having said that “nature’ accounts for the division of society “into rich and poor, bosses and workers,” (p. 177) and declared “the extinction of pauperism a utopia,” (p. 184) they conclude with the submission, not only voluntary, but grateful of employees to “the law, which is a rule of justice.” (p.185)

This is the way in which, under color of making our children of both sexes good citizens, our so-called secularizers fabricate, or attempt to fabricate, docile game for profit.

And what is the most extraordinary thing is that ever since there exists a socialist minority at the Hotel de Ville such catechisms, each more detestable that the other, can continue to be circulated without ever, and I mean ever, having been at the very least discussed.

There have been found men like Lavy, after the Hovelacques and the Edgar Monteils to get carried away like simple Leo Taxils (of his first period) by the words “God” and “the immortality of the soul,” maintained in an educational system that is supposed to be exclusively scientific.

But there is no one to stigmatize and demand that we show the schoolhouse door to the worst of religions, the religion of capital!

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