This booklet contains three provocative letters on socialism, government and property by the French mutualist journalist and historian Ernest Lesigne; three letters which constitute theses on freed-market anti-capitalism, and three defenses of a smallholder, co-operative economy as the only liberating solution to the social problem. The three letters in this collection are:
“There are two socialisms…”
“Property is liberty…”
“Socialism is the opposite of governmentalism…”
These “Socialistic Letters” are selections from a series of twelve letters published by Lesigne in the French paper Le Radical during 1887. The three appearing here in English were translated by the American individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker, and re-printed in his newspaper Liberty in the same year.
“The entire code of law is the book of guarantees imposed to prevent property, the means of production, the instrument of liberty, dignity, equality, from passing out of the hands of the primitive monopolist into those of the contemporary producer; the Code is the isolation of servants confronted with the coalition of masters; it is the prohibition of real contract between employer and employee; it is the constraint of the latter to accept from the former exactly the minimum of wages indispensable to subsistence; and in any case where all these guarantees may have been vain, where a few laborers, by a fortunate stroke, may have succeeded in accumulating a little capital, the Code is a trap set to catch these little savings, the canalization ingeniously organized so that all that has temporarily left the hands of the monopolist may return to them by an adroit system of drainage, — so that the water, as the saying is in the villages, may always go to the river… .”