International Notes – An Interesting Experiment

Paul Grados, in the May Day number of the Guesdist organ, states that in the course of an address at Limoges in 1892, Dr. Napias – who was later appointed chief of the Assistance Publique – recalled an experiment by Pattenkofer and Voit on the degree of resistance of the human organism to bodily fatigue.

A vigorous workman was selected who could take a normal repose, and who received a substantial nourishment; then, said Dr. Napias, he was made to exert a muscular effort that was calculated mathematically and which corresponded to the expenditure of average labour – and that during nine hours.

Well, it was ascertained that at the end of twenty-four hours his organism had a deficit of 192 grammes of oxygen which he had had to borrow from his own tissues. Neither the rest that he had taken nor the food that had been given him had sufficed to completely repair the tissues used up during nine hours’ work.

It is therefore shown scientifically that nine hours of daily labour exceed the forces of the human economy. This is doubtless mainly responsible for the much shorter duration of the lives of working men as compared with the longevity of members of the leisured class. The movement toward a lessening of the working day that is favoured by many capitalists is therefore not surprising. Its object, indeed, is simply to extort the maximum of effort – from the human machine.

The fetish of Unity.

To the gushing sentimentalist the word Unity is as the Ark of the Covenant. Insistence upon the necessity for agreement on principles, on methods, and above all on the object in view, is scorned as sectarianism and as heresy against most holy Unity by such worshippers of empty forms. True unity is a means to an end. First of all the essentials regarding the end to be sought and the means to that end must be agreed upon, for “unity”without this is unity in impotence, being without everything that makes unity useful, namely, common principles, methods, and aims. Unity under any other conditions than that of agreement on the essentials of aims and methods is like tying cats together by their tails.

Our French comrades are finding this out. Rappoport, after a word in praise of what he calls international discipline, lets the cats out of the bag when he says in Le Socialisme: “Besides, unity is not a restriction. It does not hinder even those who pine for the old ‘dangerous alliances’, and of the false households of three with the ‘Democracy’. It does not even prevent certain members of the party from calumniating fraternally their ‘dear comrades’, and from persecuting them with their deadly hate. Unity is therefore an excellent thing from every point of view, especially if, as we hope, American comrades will not inflict anarchists and those with anarchist methods upon themselves as companions of the road – the false road.”

Ch. Bonnier, in a later issue of the same journal, also confesses that “the great trouble with the French Parti Socialiste is that it falls continually from the fever of anarchism into the heat-sickness of radicalism; never can it grasp its true class policy, never can it understand that it is entirely apart, and that it has not to do the work of the others. How many times has not the spook of reaction caused it to fall into the arms of its born exploiters – the radicals?”

In short, the only unity worth worrying about is Socialist unity, and most of those who gush about the words have still torealisewhat they mean.


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