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OT many months have passed since the "Pall Mall Gazette" (April 14,
J-* 1869) registered in its columns the saying of a contemporary statesman, a saying calculated to fix for the moment the attention of even the most heedless. The speaker was Count Bismarck, the successful man whose penetrating gaze into the political phenomena of his age few will doubt, and the subject of his remark was Communism. He was reported to have spoken to the following effect to a Russian diplomatic agent: "I do not fear your armies: I fear the influence of your communal institutions upon the future of European society."
The remark is in itself a startling one; and, whether the story of its deliverance be true or apocryphal, it will serve very well as a text to which we may attach a few remarks on the subject of certain social views little understood and (perhaps for that reason) much reviled.
The words of Count Bismarck were pointed at the Russian village communities. It is only within the last quarter of a century that Europe had heard of the existence of these communities. And now that extra-Muscovite Europe does know of them, she is apt to see them, in the light of an Indian comparison, as but the dry bones of an extinct form of civilization, as it were the fossils of a former age of the world's history, and to suspect them of as little energetic life and living force as is inherent to-day in the stony frame of an Ichthyosaurus. Everywhere, save in India and in Russia, such modes of organizing society and labour have passed away hundreds or thousands of years since. Almost before any history begins, advancing civilization cast off the old shell of communal institutions, and one race of men after another rose to the full enjoyment of all the separate and individual rights of property and of family. To hear it now said that the lessons of time may be reversed and Communism may engulf again the