Mai 20, 2011

205 Jahre John Stuart Mill

Vor kurzem zitierte ich an dieser Stelle Rudolf Rocker mit der Aussage, Anarchismus sei die "Synthese von Liberalismus und Sozialismus". Da liegt es eigentlich nahe, sich auch mit dem sogenannten "ersten Sozialliberalen" zu beschäftigen, dem Utilitaristen, Vorkämpfer für Frauenrechte und Sympathisant von Arbeiterkooperativen John Stuart Mill. Selbst Bakunin hielt Mill in Ehren, etwa wenn er schreibt, Mill sei "l'un des plus estimables et des plus sincères écrivains d'Angleterre, philosophe, politique, économiste frisant le socialisme, mais ne voulant jamais y entrer" (Œuvres complètes, Band 1, Ausgabe Champ Libre, 1973, S.172). Hingegen befand Ludwig von Mises Mill sei der "Urheber der gedankenlosen Vermengung liberaler und sozialistischer Ideen"; heutige Radikalliberale/Libertäre sehen in Mill einen frühen Sozialdemokraten und Verfechter einer "paternalistisch-konservative[n] Idee des Wohlfahrtsstaats à la Bismarck" (siehe hier).

Dagegen kann man allerdings einwenden, dass Mills Modell von Arbeiterkooperativen innerhalb eines Systems einer (weitestgehend) freien Marktwirtschaft, wie 1848 in den Principles of political economy dargelegt, eher an Proudhon denn an Lassalle (der solche vom Staat finanziert sehen wollte) oder gar an die Bismarckschen Sozialreformen der 1880er - die ja gegen die Arbeiterbewegung gerichtet waren - erinnert. Vor zwei Jahren gab es in diesem Forum vor zwei Jahren denn auch eine Debatte ob Mill als Vorläufer der "libertarian left" einzuordnen sei. Allerdings sollte man in diesem Kontext beachten, dass Mill - der wesentlich vom Positivistenpapst Auguste Comte geprägt war, das sollte man nicht vergessen - kaum einen anderen Denker derart verabscheute als ausgerechnet Proudhon, und den utopisch-konstruktivistischen Entwürfen der Fourieristen deutlich mehr Sympathien entgegen brachte.

Zur Dokumentierung habe ich aus diesem Grund drei Stellen von Mill über (bzw. gegen) Proudhon ausgesucht; nicht zuletzt auch deswegen, weil sie unterhaltsam sind.

1. Aus einem Brief an Harriet Taylor, ca. 31. März 1849, enthalten in Band XIV der Collected works:

"(...) progress of the right kind seems to me quite safe now that Socialism has become inextinguishable. I heartily wish Proudhon dead however - there are few men whose state of mind, taken as a whole, inspires me with so much aversion, & all his influence seems to me mischievous except as a potent dissolvent which is good so far, but every single thing which he would substitute seems to me the worst possible in practice & mostly in principle. I have been reading another volume of Considérant lately published - he has got into the details of Fourierism, with many large extracts from Fourier himself. It was perhaps necessary to enter into details in order to make the thing look practicable, but many of the details are, & all appear, passablement ridicules. As to their system, & general mode of thought there is a great question at the root of it which must be settled before one can get a step further. Admitting the omnipotence of education, is not the very pivot & turning point of that education a moral sense - a feeling of duty, or conscience, or principle, or whatever name one gives it - a feeling that one ought to do, & to wish for, what is for the greatest good of all concerned. Now Fourier, & all his followers, leave this out entirely, & rely wholly on such an arrangement of social circumstances as without any inculcation of duty or of 'ought', will make every one, by the spontaneous action of the passions, intensely zealous for all the interests of the whole. Nobody is ever to be made to do anything but act just as they like, but it is calculated that they will always, in a phalanstere, like what is best. This of course leads to the freest notions about personal relations of all sorts, but is it, in other respects, a foundation on which people would be able to live & act together. Owen keeps in generals & only says that education can make everybody perfect, but the Fourierists attempt to shew how, & exclude, as it seems to me, one of the most indispensable ingredients."

2. Aus einem Brief an Henry Samuel Chapman, 28. Mai 1849, ebenfalls Band XIV:

"The election [die Präsidentschaftswahl 1848 in Frankreich, die Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte zum Präsidenten kürte] was carried by the vast mass of the peasantry, & it is one of the most striking instances in history of the power of a name—though no doubt dislike of the republic helped the effect, the peasantry being too ignorant to care much about forms of government & being irritated by the temporary increase of taxation which the revolution rendered necessary & terrified by the anti-property doctrines of Proudhon & the Socialists - I may say of Proudhon only, for the Socialists, even the Communists, do not propose to take away any property from any one, any more than Owen does. (...) There will probably be no outbreak like that of June21 (unless to repel some attempt at a coup d’état) for the democrats & even the socialists will now think they have a better chance of gaining their objects by the peaceable influence of discussion on the minds of the electors - but what turn things will take it is hard to say, the French people being divided into two violent parties, the furious friends of 'order' & the Socialists, who have generally very wild & silly notions & little that one can sympathize with except the spirit & feelings which actuate them. The party who attempt to mediate between these two extremes as the Provisional Government strove to do, is weak, & is disliked by both parties, though there are some signs that all sections of republicans intend to pull together now that they are all in opposition. The chance for France & Europe entirely depends now on the respite which has been obtained & on the possibility of the maturing by this middle party, of rational principles on which to construct an order of society which, retaining the institution of private property (but facilitating all possible experiments for dispensing with it by means of association) shall studiously hurl all inequalities out necessarily inherent in that institution. As an example I may mention the grand idea of the Provisional Government, that of making all education, even professional, gratuitous, which as they proposed it, is liable to the grave objection of throwing all education virtually into the hands of the government, but means might I think be found to purge the scheme of this most serious fault. A great source of hope for France lies in the fact that the most powerful & active section of the Socialists are the Fourierists headed by Considérant, who are much the most sensible & enlightened both in the destructive, & in the constructive parts of their system, & are eminently pacific. On the other hand there is the great danger of having a firebrand like Proudhon, the most mischievous man in Europe, & who has nothing whatever of all that I like & respect in the Socialists to whom he in no way belongs."

3. Aus einem Brief an Dr.Emile Honoré Cazelles, 30. Mai 1869, Band XVII:

"D’un autre côté tout en traitant Proudhon avec une juste sévérité vous me semblez lui avoir fait la part trop belle en disant qu’il a rendu de grands services à la course du progrès. Je puis me tromper, mais il m’a toujours semblé que Proudhon a été très nuisible à la cause du progrès. D’abord personne n’a tant fait pour provoquer la réaction de la peur, qui a eu et qui a encore des effets si funestes. Ensuite je ne vois dans ses écrits rien de foncièrement juste et progressif. Ce qu’il y a chez lui de plus puissant c’est sa dialectique subversive, mais c’est une dialectique d’un mauvais aller; une vraie sophistique, car elle s’attaque au bien comme au mal, et au lieu de se contenter de dire ce qui peut se dire avec vérité contre la meilleure cause, elle entasse contre chaque côté de la question pêle-mêle avec les bonnes raisons, tous les sophismes et même les calomnies qu’on a jamais débités de part et d’autre. Cela brouille les esprits et fausse les idées, tandis que la bonne dialectique les éclairait."

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