Henri Léon Follin

Words of a Foreseeing Person

(1934)

 


 

Note

The humanist Henri Léon Follin (1866-1949) was too far ahead of his time and was therefore known and appreciated only by a small circle of people. The text presented here consists of a series of considerations contained in his works. It presents the idea of COSMOMETAPOLIS which has a strong resemblance to Panarchy. Both conceptions are in favour of free personal choice in relation to the social organisation of which each person wants to be a member, beyond the territorial sovereignty imposed on all by nation-states.

Source : Pierre Lefer and H. François Follin, Paroles d'un Voyant, Librairie Marcel Rivière, Paris, 1934.

 


 

Free and voluntary communities
The evolution of the world must be based on the development and improvement of individual or freely and contractually associative realities, and not on the frameworks in which their birth, origin, habitat, or activities enclose individuals and their groups.
There must be no power of peoples over each other. This political form of power will always lead to conflicts.
The only healthy powers are economic, moral, intellectual, and aesthetic. They have nothing to do with ethnical-political-geographical divisions. Power must be the prerogative of free individuals and groups, recruited from all over the world, to exercise it over themselves for the benefit of all.  

No community has a reality other than in the existence of the individuals who are members of it at a given moment. Its characteristics are nothing other than the totality of the characteristics received from the past and the present by each of these individuals, and which he/she alone can transmit to the future.
The individual cosmometapolitical rights, which must be recognised and guaranteed to every human being throughout the world, to whatever national, regional, or local community he may belong, can essentially be reduced to six:

1. The right of non-participation, in any form, in competitions or conflicts between political states or their consequences.
2. The right to choose the State or the administrative and juridical States on whose laws he intends to depend for his private relations and to move or settle in any State in accordance with the laws of that State for his social relations.
3. The right to exchange property and services freely with the inhabitants of all other States.
4. The right to value his exchanges and to make agreements by means of a universal or even a particular standard without the intervention of any monetary monopoly.
5. The right to express freely all his thoughts in all matters, except inciting to violence against established institutions.
6. The right to protect the instruction and education of his children from any influence contrary to the five preceding rights.

The cosmometapolitical doctrine wants the human being not to be, from birth, subject to a single authority which will be felt by him in all the manifestations of his existence.
It wants him to be able to free himself from the common law in all matters that do not directly and patently harm others, and to submit only to that part of human public opinion that suits him, or to those associations into which he has freely entered by means of a specific contract of voluntarily limited duration

The cosmometapolitical principle, which the human beings will demand to govern the world when they want to open their eyes, is this: neither the place of birth or dwelling, nor the ancestral origin must bind either the life or certain essential liberties of individuals to the wills and decisions of the political rulers, whether they be the rulers of the nation of which they are citizens or which they inhabit, or those of any other nation.
Peace will only truly reign when, as COSMOMETAPOLIS wants, the notion of a minimum of individual-universal rights, not only of the conscience, but also of the human interest, is created, spread, and inflated until it sweeps away all resistance, against political and national institutions.
 

Civilisation
Humanity has never been civilised. Let us not confuse civilisation with certain industrial, scientific, intellectual, and even moral developments of humanity. There have been many attempts at civilisation, always stifled by militarisation and politicisation. Now, in the 20th century, we are witnessing the most recent and perhaps the most definitive and harmful manifestation of this phenomenon.
Civilisation is and can only be the product of all the free individual initiatives on the face of the earth, and of the universal exchange of services, which is the consequence and manifestation of their freedom.
A civilisation in which the best representatives of intelligence, talent, and virtue, admit that the function of discerning and crowning their titles to attention is devolved to politicians and state bureaucrats, still has a great deal to learn.

 

Competition
Let us not confuse the economic formula of the struggle for the best life with the political formula of the struggle for life. It is a very partial and incomplete life that equates the relative selection produced by the various degrees of success in the effort for betterment with the absolute selection produced by the struggle for being.

 

Economic Competition
The great socialist error, which has poisoned all modern conceptions of Economics, is to believe that competition, when free and fair, crushes the weak under its rule.
Competition enables the strong to arrive in greater numbers; but as the strong can only rise in the service of the weak, who are infinitely more numerous, and with their help, they are obliged to let them benefit from the advantages which they themselves derive from competition.

 

Democracy
Democracy? As an instrument of defence against the parasitism and tyranny of the strong, yes. But on condition not to put in its place the tyranny and parasitism of the weak.

 

Exchanges
People who want to preserve their own character have no better way of guaranteeing themselves against foreign infiltration of individuals than to open their doors wide to the exchange of products.
The natural tendency is to value the service they render higher than the service they receive. Nevertheless, all exchange is profitable. The discussion concerning the basis of the exchange, which sometimes makes it seem like a struggle, is only the necessary preliminary. It is not an act of antagonism; it is the preparation for an act of union and solidarity.

Only Bastiat revealed the nature of Economics in a striking way by defining it: the science of exchange. He alone has revealed the nature of value in a striking way by defining it as the ratio of two services.
It is in the light of these definitions that we will understand how, by multiplying exchanges, and by substituting money with a universal common denominator which balances with maximum stability the evaluation of the services they provide, wealth will be able to increase continuously.
The abolition of customs borders is not a question of "organisation", but a question of individual rights.

The so-called liberal economists were entirely right in thinking that freedom of trade would suffice to pacify the world, which is their excuse for not even fighting against nationalisms and conceiving the cosmometapolitical doctrine in germ in the teachings of some of them.
The Freedom of Trade is enough for everything materially, just as the Freedom of Thought and of the expression of Thought is enough intellectually and morally. But the latter will only be obtained, as the former has, more or less, been obtained, by claiming it, not as an abstract collective value, but as a concrete right due to each of us.

 

Economy
The Economy, i.e. the incessant adaptation and readjustment of production to consumption and vice versa, is not an affair of the State, but a matter of free and fair trade.
There is no such thing as a "liberal economy". There is the economy, the fruit of freedom, and the anti-economy, the fruit of constraint.

Since 1914, the world economy has been in a state of decomposition. It will only recover its normal forms, in conformity with the natural laws of evolution and the experimental progress of humanity, by the affirmation, recognition and safeguarding of certain rights, both individual and universal, which must take precedence over any political or legal laws or institutions, national or international, which oppose them or which may oppose them in the future.
Nothing can work properly in society if economic concerns are confused with philanthropic concerns. The best way for all interests to be well defended, those of the workers as well as others, is for each one, ceasing to rely on the anonymous and parasitic State, to practice mutual aid, alone or in association with other co-interested individuals.

 

Harmony
Human harmony, like all harmonies, is not a problem of homogenization, but of coexistence in diversity and differentiation.
The two great obstacles to human order and progress are the particularistic spirit and the egalitarian spirit. At the bottom of all social disharmonies, one can be sure to find one or the other.

 

Individualism
Definition: Individualism is the doctrine that considers the individual as the only social means.
No individual can isolate himself from the species. He is only a moment in the life of the whole of which he is a part, just as he is only a moment in the cells which compose it. But it is, in the eyes of our understanding and our will, the essential moment, both determined and determining.
Trilogy of individualistic principles, essence of social truth:
- Freedom: the simple fact of not being constrained by others.
- Responsibility: the simple fact of not running away from the consequences of one's actions.
- Sincerity: the simple fact of bringing one's thoughts, words, and actions in syntony as much as possible to one another.

The political programme of the individualists is criticised for not being positive, for calling mainly for cancellations. How could it be otherwise? The role of the state, being seen as ensuring a free environment, can only be negative. The positive of politics consists in removing everything that hinders the positive of non-politics.
All prevailing conceptions, whether traditional or reformist, tend to crystallise the individual in the ethnic, political, social, or professional group to which he belongs. Natural order and progress, on the contrary, consist in making him independent of all groups, insofar as he does not himself set or freely accept the limits of his solidarity with them.

The great vice of all collective leadership, whether political, trade unionist, co-operative, soviet, or other, will always be the same: to foster the fear and hatred nurtured by mediocrities towards all individual values, of fanaticisms towards all free spirits, and thus to break the essential springs of all human evolution.
It is possible, as one publicist says, that an individualist society "favours the bold and the rascal" at the expense of the apathetic and the foolish who are incapable of organising their own defence.
But a socialist (or socialomaniac) society favours the lazy and wasteful at the expense of the hard-working and far-sighted, who act for the good of all in pursuit of their own good. Thus an individualistic society is much more social than a socialist society.

An English thinker, Auberon Herbert, preached "voluntary taxation". The two words seem to contradict each other.
Yet, can we not admit that in a society whose individuals had freed themselves from the need for guardianship and had lost the habit of coercion, they would feel socially obliged to participate in the common burdens, just as they feel obliged today to go out decently dressed and to comply with a host of conventions to which the law does not oblige them?

 

World
Nations have not yet understood their absurdity, when they seek both to enlarge and to close their borders, while free trade would be the annexation of the world and their mutual annexation by each other!
The United States of the World?
Watch out! It would be very convenient to oppress the individuals under a uniform plan. But the Individuals of the World united above the States, in order to defend themselves against the excesses committed by the States, this is something that is, at the same time, quite urgent, effective, and harmless.

 

Militarism
Militarism and protectionism go hand in hand. When militarism has caused disasters in a country, it is protectionism that creeps in to support it. Protectionism is a swindle of public wealth, just as militarism is a swindle of public life. Like all scams, they need murky water.

 

Nations
From time immemorial the human beings have disregarded their universal, permanent, and superior interest, which is an interest of co-operation, and have sacrificed it to particular, temporary, and inferior interests, in the form of armed struggle or competition for material power. This is the only origin of the nation; this was and still is to some degree its only raison d'être.

To reshape the borders of nations? What a puerile anachronism! Only one thing matters: to make nations more and more, solely, associations for the administration of certain common interests and less and less governmental apparatuses absorbing human personality and oppressing it for the benefit of its parasites.

Since conflicts between nations arise solely from national claims, it is strange, to say the least, that one should hope to have them fairly settled by Courts of Arbitration, whose members depend on the favour of the national governments, more or less disposed in favour of one or the other litigant. How can the most elementary common sense not show the people that the dangers of national policies can only be averted by individuals who have nothing remotely to do with them, i.e. who have abdicated all national and political feeling and claimed the quality of cosmometapolitics?

Even if they are a tiny minority, nationalists will always exert an influence in all countries out of all proportion to their numbers, until the notion that their nationality can, in certain circumstances, take precedence over their humanity, is destroyed amongst them.

Peace, order and prosperity will not reign permanently in the world until men in sufficient numbers, or men with sufficient influence, have repudiated all solidarity with what the governments, parties and press of every country call "national interests.

A nation has no interests. It is only the arbiter of those interests which its nationals, as constituents or traders, cannot adjust to each other with the nationals of other nations. In those which they can adjust, it has nothing to do. And in neither case does it have the right to involve the uninterested.

People who, while believing themselves, in good faith, to be peaceful or at least enemies of war, practice or admit the cult of "national interests" are like sick people or doctors who deplore the symptoms of an infection without ceasing to nourish its source.

 

Politics
Politics, which claims to dominate the world, is nevertheless one of its most inferior activities, driven by the most simplistic spirit. Nothing is more typical of it than the democratic egalitarian fetishism in education, which the centralised state naturally uses to strengthen its influence everywhere.
The universal political absurdity consists in expecting more virtue from institutions and laws than the individuals who make and apply them possess.
Peoples, like individuals, live by what unites them and die by what divides them. But their parasites live by what divides them and die by what unites them. Hence the obstinacy of politicians, diplomats, propagandists, and the monopolists of finance and industry in setting national cults against the religion of humanity.

 

Society
The whole secret of social wealth and harmony is to develop in each individual, in each environment, the desire to be different from others, by abolishing the desire to be more than others. It is to dispel what is particularistic by respecting what is particular.
The social problem is a problem of libertarian and autonomous institutions for individuals capable of initiative and responsibility, and of tutelary institutions for individuals who cannot do without tutelage.
The producers who receive a small or big salary (let's avoid the word "worker") will gain access to the ownership of the instruments of labour and to the direction of economic enterprises all the more quickly if the law avoids giving in to the injunctions of their political representatives, who aim only to put them under their own self-interested and incompetent tutelage.

 
Variety
To the chimerical idea of an ideal and messianic regime universally applicable, someone opposes the vague idea that "the best regime is the one which, at a given time and in a given environment, best suits the conditions of this or that society".
The truth is that the only regime suitable for all times and environments, the only one that can be modelled on the essential conditions of development of all societies, is the one that leaves the door open to all experiments without imposing or stifling any of them.
If our society has become singularly complicated, this very complexity, which it is vain to hope can be mastered and managed by the directing capacity of governments, requires the recognition and application of great principles that are as simple as possible.
The law must be only the means for realising the diversity of uses of freedom, within the unity of the guarantees of freedom.

 

Truth
Humanity rarely accepts a new truth from the start, or the rejuvenation of an old, neglected, or unnoticed truth, because the men who influence it have for the most part adopted, by temperament, by interest, by tradition, by education, contrary conceptions which it is costly for them to abandon, especially if they have contributed by their own effort to acquire them. But sooner or later they have to resign themselves to the fact that this truth has acted on a certain number of brains that are still evolving.

 

 


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