This law of apparent retrogression alone overthrows the greater part of the far too superficial criticisms that Guyot makes upon socialism in La Tyrannie socialiste, Paris, 1893 (published in English, by Swan Sonnenschein, London,) and in Les Principes de 1789 et le Socialisme, Paris, 1894.
THE SOCIAL EVOLUTION AND INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY.
The conclusion of the preceding chapter will be of use to us in the examination of the second contradiction that, it is pretended, exists between socialism and the theory of evolution. It is asserted and repeated in all possible tones that socialism constitutes a tyranny under a new form which will destroy all the blessings of liberty won with such toil and difficulty in our century, at the cost of so many sacrifices and of so many martyrs.
I have already shown, in speaking of anthropological inequalities, that socialism will, on the contrary, assure to all individuals the conditions of a human existence and the possibility of developing with the utmost freedom and completeness their own respective individualities.
It is sufficient here for me to refer to another law, which the scientific theory of evolution has established, to demonstrate (since I cannot in this monograph enter into details) that it is an error to assume that the advent of socialism would result in the suppression of the vital and vitalizing part of personal and political liberty.
It is a law of natural evolution, set forth and illustrated with remarkable clearness by M. Ardigo, that each succeeding phase of the natural and social evolution does not destroy the vital and life-giving manifestations of the preceding phases, but that, on the contrary, it preserves their existence in so far as they are vital and only eliminates their pathological manifestations.
In the biological evolution, the manifestations of vegetable life do not efface the first glimmerings of the dawn of life that are seen even before in the crystallization of minerals, any more than the manifestations of animal life efface those of vegetable life. The human form of life also permits the continued existence of the forms and links which precede it in the great series of living beings, but, more than this, the later forms only really live in so far as they are the product of the primitive forms and co-exist with them.
The social evolution follows the same law: and this is precisely the interpretation of transition periods given by scientific evolutionism. They did not annihilate the conquests of the preceding civilizations, but they preserved, on the contrary, whatever was vital in them and fecundated them for the Renaissance of a new civilization.
This law, which dominates all the magnificent development of the social life, equally governs the fate and the parabolic career of all social institutions.