Republic of Beavers

Here’s Ferdinand, Baron d’Eckstein, addressing the issues that matter:

Mais quelle différence entre les vérités que nous admettons et les dogmes que proclame un industrialisme grossier et trivial, dogmes qui tendent à transformer l’ordre social en une république de castors, de fourmis ou d’abeilles. Méconnaissant la dignité humaine, ce genre d’industrialisme confierait les rènes du gouvernement au seul intérêt privé. C’est lui qui donne pour l’article de foi la maxime suivant, que gagner de l’argent c’est bien mériter de la civilisation, c’est répandre la lumière. C’est dans le sens de cette doctrine que le Constitutionnel immole chaque jour, sur les autels de la classe industrielle, les nobles et les administrateurs. Lancer le moindre sarcasme contre un fabricant, c’est un blasphème! malheur au poète comique, au journaliste ou au député qui se permettrait ce crime contre la seule classe inviolable de toute la société.

— ‘De l’industrialisme’, in Le Catholique, vol. 5 (1827), p. 241

Also of interest at the Virtual Stoa is the way that the Baron goes on to call Johann Gottlieb Fichte a Stoic just a few pages later (p. 239) — but, right now, we’re focused on the beavers.

When you start looking for it, the Republic of Beavers is everywhere!

Goethe called Venice the “Biberrepublik” in his Italian Journey (27 September 1786), and the identification was picked up by the  Comte Pierre-Antoine-Noël-Bruno Daru in his 1819 Histoire de la république de Venise, vol. 5. There’s even an article on ‘The Republic of Beavers: An American Utopia’ by Arnold L. Kerson  in the 2000 volume of Utopian Studies!

Daru says that it was Montesquieu who first called Venice the R of the Bs, but I don’t know what the original source is supposed to be. So I now find myself leaning towards the thought that the original for all of this is Voltaire, who in the entry on ‘laws’ in his Philosophical Dictionary (1764) shrewdly notes that ‘The republic of the beavers is still superior to that of the ants, at least if we judge by their masonry work.’

[thanks! IN]

One thought on “Republic of Beavers”

  1. For a view downstream — in the metaphorical sense, since as I have been telling VS for years, beavers are malign and destructive animals which love nothing more than damming up fresh clear-running streams, and replacing them with pestilential swamps — as I say, for a view downstream, recall Tocqueville (no stranger to beavers) in his comments to the Constituent Assembly in 1848, wherein he recognizes that beaverdom is next to socialism:

    “AND AFTER this great Revolution, is the result to be that
    society which the socialists offer us, a formal, regimented
    and closed society where the State has charge of all,
    where the individual counts for nothing, where the
    community masses to itself all power, all life, where the
    end assigned to man is solely his material welfare—this
    society where the very air is stifling and where light barely
    penetrates? Is it to be for this society of bees and beavers,
    for this society, more for skilled animals than for free and
    civilized men, that the French Revolution took place? Is it
    for this that so many great men died on the field of battle
    and on the gallows, that so much noble blood watered the
    earth? Is it for this that so many passions were inflamed,
    that so much genius, so much virtue walked the earth”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *