Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Proudhon on Marx's offer to collaborate

By all means let us collaborate in trying to discover the laws of society, the way in which those laws work out, the best way to go about investigating them; but for God's sake, after we have demolished all the dogmatisms a priori, let us not of all things attempt in our turn to instil another kind of doctrine into the people; let us not fall into the contradiction of your compatriot Martin Luther, who, after overthrowing the Catholic theology, immediately addressed himself to the task, with a great armory of excommunications and anathemas, of establishing a Protestant theology. Germany for three centuries now has been obliged to occupy herself exclusively with the problem of getting rid of M. Luther's job of reconstruction; let us not, by contriving any more such restorations, leave any more such tasks for the human race. I applaud with all my heart your idea of bringing to light all the varieties of opinion; let us have good and sincere polemics; let us show the world an example of a learned and far-sighted tolerance; but simply because we are at the head of a movement, let us not set ourselves up as the leaders of a new intolerance, let us not pose as the apostles of a new religion - even through this religion be the religion of logic, the religion of reason itself. Let us welcome, let us encourage all the protests; let us condemn all the exclusions, all the mysticisms; let us never regard a question as closed, and even after we have exhausted our last argument, let us begin again, if necessary, with eloquence and irony. On that condition, I shall be delighted to take part in your association - but otherwise, no!

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