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On Labor and Luxury
by [?]

And the position of such a man, both in his external and internal conditions, will be more happy than that of the man who devotes his life to the acquisition of property. Such a man will never suffer need in his outward circumstances, because people, perceiving his desire to work, will always try to provide him with the most productive work, as they proportion a mill to the water-power. And they will render his material existence free from care, which they will not do for people who are striving to acquire property. And freedom from anxiety in his material conditions is all that a man needs. Such a man will always be happier in his internal conditions, than the one who seeks wealth, because the first will never gain that which he is striving for, while the latter always will, in proportion to his powers. The feeble, the aged, the dying, according to the proverb, “With the written absolution in his hands,” will receive full satisfaction, and the love and sympathy of men.

What, then, will be the outcome of a few eccentric individuals, or madmen, tilling the soil, making shoes, and so on, instead of smoking cigarettes, playing whist, and roaming about everywhere to relieve their tedium, during the space of the ten leisure hours a day which every intellectual worker enjoys? This will be the outcome: that these madmen will show in action, that that imaginary property for which men suffer, and for which they torment themselves and others, is not necessary for happiness; that it is oppressive, and that it is mere superstition; that property, true property, consists only in one’s own head and hands; and that, in order to actually exploit this real property with profit and pleasure, it is necessary to reject the false conception of property outside one’s own body, upon which we expend the best efforts of our lives. The outcome us, that these men will show, that only when a man ceases to believe in imaginary property, only when he brings into play his real property, his capacities, his body, so that they will yield him fruit a hundred-fold, and happiness of which we have no idea,–only then will he be so strong, useful, and good a man, that, wherever you may fling him, he will always land on his feet; that he will everywhere and always be a brother to everybody; that he will be intelligible to everybody, and necessary, and good. And men looking on one, on ten such madmen, will understand what they must all do in order to loose that terrible knot in which the superstition regarding property has entangled them, in order to free themselves from the unfortunate position in which they are all now groaning with one voice, not knowing whence to find an issue from it.

But what can one man do amid a throng which does not agree with him? There is no argument which could more clearly demonstrate the terror of those who make use of it than this. The burlaki {260} drag their bark against the current. There cannot be found a burlak so stupid that he will refuse to pull away at his towing-rope because he alone is not able to drag the bark against the current. He who, in addition to his rights to an animal life, to eat and sleep, recognizes any sort of human obligation, knows very well in what that human obligation lies, just as the boatman knows it when the tow-rope is attached to him. The boatman knows very well that all he has to do is to pull at the rope, and proceed in the given direction. He will seek what he is to do, and how he is to do it, only when the tow-rope is removed from him. And as it is with these boatmen and with all people who perform ordinary work, so it is with the affairs of all humanity. All that each man needs is not to remove the tow-rope, but to pull away on it in the direction which his master orders. And, for this purpose, one sort of reason is bestowed on all men, in order that the direction may be always the same. And this direction has obviously been so plainly indicated, that both in the life of all the people about us, and in the conscience of each individual man, only he who does not wish to work can say that he does not see it. Then, what is the outcome of this?