The Kings of the mine, of coal and gold, would be quite wrong to worry. The resignation of their slaves consecrates their authority. Their power no longer needs to appeal to divine right, that decorative nonsense; their sovereignty is legitimated through popular consent. A workers' plebiscite made of fanatically patriotic adherence, declamatory banality or silent acquiescence, ensures the empire of the employers and the rule of the bourgeoisie.
The artisan of this work is identified.
Whether in the mine or the factory, the Honest Worker, that sheep, has given mange to the herd.
A counter-owner ideal perverts the instincts of the people . A Sunday overcoat, talking politicians, voting... it is the hope that replaces everything. The odious daily work awakens neither hatred nor rancor. The great party of workers despises the loafer who earns the money granted by the boss poorly.
They are passionately dedicated to work.
They are proud of their calloused hands.
However deformed their fingers are, the yoke has done worse to their heads: with the continuous rubbing of the harness on their scalps, the lumps of resignation, cowardice and respect have swelled up. Old conceited workers brandish their certificates: forty years in the same company! You hear them talking about this as they beg for bread in the courtyards.
--Have pity, sir or madam, on an old invalid, a fine worker, a good patriot*, an old non-commissioned officer who fought in the war... Have pity, sir or madam.
It's cold; the windows remain shut. The old man doesn't understand...
Educate the people! What then is needed? Their misery has taught them nothing. As long as there are rich and poor, the latter will yoke themselves for service on order. The worker's spinal column is accustomed to the harness. In the time of youth and strength, the only ones not protesting are the slaves.
The special honor of the proletarian consists in accepting outright all the lies in whose name he is condemned to forced labor: duty, fatherland, etc. He accepts them, hoping in this way to raise himself to the bourgeois class. The victim becomes accomplice. The unfortunate talks of the flag, pounds his chest, takes off his cap and spits in the air:
--I am an honest worker.
The spit always falls back in his face.
(La Feuille #24, February 15, 1898)
*"a good Frenchman" in the original