Undegent online make money

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Never in fact had he seen it under such a singular aspect, in a bird's-eye view, with the four vast zinc slopes of its roof extraordinarily developed and bristling with a forest of pipes. The lightning-rods rose erect like gigantic lances threatening the sky. And the edifice itself was nothing but a cube of stone, streaked with columns at regular intervals, a bare, ugly cube of a dirty gray hue, surmounted by a ragged flag. But, above all else, the steps and the peristyle astonished him, covered with black ants, a swarm of ants in revolution, all agog, in a state of wonderful commotion, which was not to be explained from such a height, and prompted a feeling of pity.

'How small they all look!' continued Saccard; 'it seems as if one could take the whole of them in the hand, with one grip.' Then, knowing his companion's ideas, he added with a laugh: 'When are you going to sweep all that away with a kick?'

Sigismond shrugged his shoulders. 'What is the use? You are demolishing yourselves fast enough.'

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Then, little by little, he became animated, overflowing with the subject he was full of. A proselytising spirit launched him, at the slightest word, into an exposition of his system. 'Yes, yes, you are working for us without suspecting it,' said he. 'You are a few usurpers, who expropriate the mass of the people, and when you have gorged yourselves we shall only have to expropriate you in our turn. Every monopoly, every phase of centralisation, leads to collectivism. You are setting us a practical example, in the same way as the large estates absorbing the small patches of land, the large producers devouring the petty home industries, the great financial establishments and great stores killing all competition, and battening on the ruin of the little banks and the little shops, are slowly but surely leading towards the new social state. We are waiting for everything to crack, for the existing method of production to end in the intolerable[Pg 39] disorder which will be its ultimate consequence. Then the bourgeois and the peasants themselves will aid us.'

Saccard, feeling interested, looked at him with a vague anxiety, although he took him for a madman. 'But come, explain to me, what is this collectivism of yours?'

'Collectivism is the transformation of private capital, living by the struggle of competition, into a unitary social capital, exploited by the labour of all. Imagine a society in which the instruments of production will be the property of all, in which everybody will work according to his intelligence and strength, and in which the products of this social co-operation will be distributed to each in proportion to his effort! There can be nothing more simple, eh? Common production in the factories, yards, and workshops of the nation! Then an exchange, a payment in kind! If there should be over-production, the surplus will be lodged in public warehouses, from which it will be taken to fill up any deficits that may arise. One will have to strike a balance. And this, like one blow of an axe, will fell the rotten tree. No more competition, no more private capital, and, therefore, no more "business" of any kind—neither commerce, nor markets, nor Bourses. The idea of profit will thenceforth have no meaning. The sources of speculation, of incomes acquired without work, will be dried up.'

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'Oh! oh!' interrupted Saccard, 'that would change many people's habits, and no mistake! But what would you do with those who have incomes to-day? Gundermann, for instance, would you take away his milliard?'

'Not at all; we are not robbers. We should redeem his milliard, all his shares, debentures, and State bonds, with certificates of enjoyment, divided into annuities. And just imagine this immense capital thus replaced by an overwhelming wealth of articles of consumption: in less than a century your Gundermann's descendants would, like other citizens, be reduced to personal labour; for the annuities would finally become exhausted, and they would not have been able to capitalise their forced economies, the overplus of their overwhelming supply of articles of consumption, even[Pg 40] admitting that the right of inheritance should be left untouched. I tell you that this would at one stroke sweep away, not only individual enterprises, companies, syndicates, and so forth, but also all the indirect sources of income, all systems of credit, loans, rentals, and so on. Nothing but labour would be left as a measure of value. Wages would naturally be suppressed, for in the present capitalistic system they are never equivalent to the exact product of labour; but at the utmost represent no more than is strictly necessary for the labourer's daily maintenance.[9] And it must be admitted that the existing system alone is guilty in the matter, that the most honest employer is clearly forced to follow the stern law of competition, to exploit his workmen, if he himself wishes to live. We have to destroy our entire social system. Ah! just think of it, Gundermann stifling under the burden of his certificates of enjoyment, his heirs unable to consume everything, obliged to give to others, and to take up the pick or the chisel, like other comrades!'

Thereupon Sigismond burst into a good-natured laugh, like a child at play, still standing by the window, with his eyes fixed on the Bourse, where swarmed the black ant-hill of speculation. A burning flush was rising to his cheeks; he had no other amusement than to picture in this wise the comical ironies of to-morrow's justice.

Saccard's uneasiness had increased. Suppose this wide-awake dreamer were after all speaking the truth. Suppose he had divined the future. He explained things that seemed very clear and sensible. 'Bah!' muttered Saccard, as though to reassure himself, 'all that won't happen next year.'

'Certainly not,' rejoined the young man, again becoming serious and weary. 'We are in the transition period, the period of agitation. There will perhaps be revolutionary violences; they are often inevitable. But the exaggerations and outbursts are temporary. Oh! I do not conceal the great immediate difficulties. All this future that I dream of seems impossible. It is difficult to give people a reasonable idea of this future society, the society of just labour, whose morals[Pg 41] will be so different to ours. It is like another world in another planet. And then, it must be confessed, the scheme of reorganisation is not ready; we are still hunting for it. I, who now scarcely sleep at all, exhaust my nights in searching. For instance, it is certain that our adversaries can say to us: "If things are as they are, it is because the logic of human actions has made them so." Hence, what a task to take the river back to its source, and direct it into another valley! The existing social system certainly owes its centuries of prosperity to the individualist principle, which emulation and personal interest endow with a fertility of production that is ever being renewed. Will collectivism ever attain to such fertility, and by what means are we to stimulate the productive functions of the workman when the idea of profit shall have been destroyed? There, to my mind, lies the doubt, the anguish, the weak point over which we must fight, if we wish the victory of Socialism to be some day won. But we shall conquer, because we are Justice. There! you see that building in front of you? You see it?'

'The Bourse?' said Saccard. 'Why, yes, of course I see it.'

'Well, it would be stupid to blow it up, because it would be rebuilt. Only I predict to you that it will go up of itself when the State shall have expropriated it, and have become the sole universal bank of the nation; and, who knows? perhaps it will then serve as a public warehouse for our surplus wealth, as one of the store-houses where our grandchildren will find the necessary supply of luxury for their days of festivity.'

Thus, with a sweeping comprehensive gesture, did Sigismond reveal this future of universal average happiness. And he had become so excited that a fresh fit of coughing shook him, and sent him back to his table, with his elbows among his papers and his head in his hands, striving to stifle the harsh rattle in his throat. But this time he did not succeed in stopping it. The door suddenly opened, and Busch, having dismissed La Méchain, ran in with a bewildered air, suffering himself at the sound of that abominable cough. He at once[Pg 42] leaned over, and took his brother in his long arms, as one takes hold of a child to soothe its pain.

'Come, youngster,' said he, 'what is the matter with you, that you are stifling like this? You know I wish you to send for a doctor. This isn't reasonable. You surely must have talked too much.'

And thereupon he darted a side glance at Saccard, who had remained in the middle of the room, quite upset by what he had just heard from the lips of that tall fellow, so passionate and so ill, who from his window on high doubtless cast a spell over the Bourse with all his stories of sweeping everything away, in order to build up everything afresh.