The last resort of proprietors, the thundering argument whose invincible power reassures them is that, in their opinion, equality of conditions is impossible. “Equality of conditions is a chimera,” they cry with a knowing air; “distribute wealth equally today, and tomorrow this equality will have vanished.”
To this banal objection, which they repeat everywhere with the most incredible assurance, they never fail to add the following commentary, as a sort of “Glory be to the Father”:
“If all men were equal, nobody would work.”
This anthem is sung with a number of verses: “If all were masters, nobody would obey.” “If nobody were rich, who would employ the poor?” “And if nobody were poor, who would labour for the rich?” … But enough of these recriminations; we have better arguments to consider.
If I show that property itself is impossible, that property is a contradiction, a chimera, a utopia, and if I show this no longer by metaphysics and jurisprudence but by numbers, equations and calculations, imagine the fright of the astounded proprietor! And what do you, reader, think of the retort?
Numbers rule the world, mundum regunt numeri. This proverb is as true for the moral and political as for the sidereal and molecular world. The elements of justice are the same as those of algebra; legislation and government are nothing else than the arts of making classifications and balancing powers; and all of jurisprudence is in the rules of arithmetic.