1. The Inca Empire
In the first part of this study, we have seen how the stable set of social ideas that we have called chiliastic socialism was expressed in various periods of human history, over the course of at least two and a half millennia. We shall now try to trace the attempts to implement these ideas in particular social structures. Our primary goal is to show that here, just as in the case of chiliastic socialism, we are dealing with a universal phenomenon, one by no means limited to our century. We shall review several examples of states whose life was built, in great part, on socialist principles.
We encounter here a far more difficult task than the one that occupied us in Part I of this study. After all, an author of a work in which socialist principles are propounded must proceed from the notion that these ideas are novel and unusual to his reader. He is therefore compelled to explain them. But in the scant economic and political documentation that has been preserved from remote epochs (and sometimes cultures without written languages are involved), the meanings of the terms used are not elucidated for the reader of the future. Such documents were intended for people to whom the terminology would have been understandable. To reconstruct from scattered hints the way of life, to comprehend the legal and economic relations of the members of a society far removed in time, is therefore a task of extreme difficulty, much more difficult than to reconstruct the appearance and behavior of a prehistoric creature from the fossil remains. In most cases, we
see the historians offering a series of opinions rather than any definitive formulation. If the present epoch is excluded, it was only once that Europeans were able to observe at first hand a state of this type. Many intelligent and observant travelers left accounts of this state, and certain of its natives acquired European culture and left narratives about the way of life of their fathers. This phenomenon, which is far more important for the historian of socialism than descriptions of the appearance and behavior of a dinosaur would be for a paleontologist, is Tawantinsuyu--the Inca empire conquered by Spanish invaders in the sixteenth century.
The Spaniards discovered the Inca state in 1531. At that time, it had existed for some two hundred years and had achieved its peak, encompassing the territory of contemporary Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, the northern half of Chile and the northwestern part of Argentina. According to several sources, its population was twelve million.
The empire, as the Spaniards found it, was as well organized as it was huge. According to their accounts, the capital, Cuzco, rivaled the biggest European cities of that time. It had a population of about 200,000. The Spaniards were struck by the magnificent palaces and temples, with façades as much as two hundred meters long, the aqueducts and the paved streets. The houses were built of large stones so finely polished and fitted together that they seemed to be of one piece. Outside, Cuzco, there was a fortress that was built of stones weighing twelve tons each; it so amazed the Spaniards that they refused to believe it could have been made by men, without the help of demons. (56: p. 114, 57: pp. 72-82)
The capital city was joined to the outlying parts of the empire by excellent roadways, in no way inferior to Roman roads and far better than the ones in Spain at the time. The roads ran along dikes in swampy terrain, cut through rock and crossed gorges by means of suspension bridges. (56: pp. 106, 113,57: pp. 93-96) An efficiently organized service of foot messengers guaranteed communications between the capital and the rest of the country. Around the capital and other towns, as well as along the roads, there were state storehouses full of produce, clothing, utensils and military equipment. (56: pp. 61-67,57: pp. 100-101, 58: pp. 61-67)
In stark contrast to the superb organization of the Inca state, its level of technical knowledge was astonishingly primitive. Most tools
and weapons were made of wood and stone. Iron was unknown, as was the plow, and land was tilled with a wooden hoe. The only domestic animal was the llama, from which meat and wool were obtained but which was not used for farming or transportation. All farm work was performed manually, and travel was either by foot or by palanquin. Finally, the Incas had no writing system, although they could transmit great amounts of information by means of quipu, a complex system of knotted strings.* Hence the low level of technology had to be compensated for by perfect organization of huge masses of the population. As a natural result, private interests were to a considerable extent subordinated to those of the state. And so, as we might expect, we encounter certain socialist features in Inca society.
What follows is a brief sketch of its structure. Fortunately, much information is available. The conquistadors proved to be more than mindless military men; they grasped much of what they saw and some of their accounts have survived. In their wake came Catholic priests, who also left detailed descriptions. Finally, the conquistadors married girls from the Inca ruling circles, and the children of these unions, who belonged to the Spanish aristocracy, at the same time retained close ties with the local population. To them belong the most valuable descriptions of life in the Inca state prior to the Spanish conquest.
The population of the Inca state was divided into three strata:
1. Incas--the ruling class, descendants of a tribe that in the past had conquered an ancient state near Lake Titicaca. Various authors refer to them as aristocracy, the elite, the bureaucracy. From this class came the administrators, the army officer corps, priests and scholars--and of course, the absolute ruler of the country, the Inca. This class was hereditary, but chiefs of conquered tribes and even soldiers distinguished in war might occasionally enter it.
2. The bulk of the population--peasants, herdsmen, artisans. They had two types of obligation to the state: military and labor. Both of these will be described below. Sometimes they were utilized in other ways by the state, for instance to settle a newly conquered territory, or to provide material (women) for human sacrifices.
3. The state slaves--yanacuna. According to legend, they descended from a tribe that had once rebelled against the state, had
* Cf. 58: p. 358. According to legend, writing had been prohibited by the founder of the Inca empire.
been crushed, and had been sentenced to extermination. But in response to a plea by his wife, the Inca changed the sentence to perpetual slavery. Thereafter the members of this group occupied the lowest position in the country. They worked the state lands, herded the llamas belonging to the state and served as servants in the houses of the Incas. (57: pp. 124-125) The basic form of property in the Inca empire was land. Theoretically, all land belonged to the Inca and was distributed by him to the Incas and peasants for their use. The lands received by the Incas were hereditary, but they were apparently managed by administrators, while the Incas themselves merely made use of the produce. These lands were worked by peasants in a manner described below. Peasants also received land for use from the state. The basic unit was the tupu--a plot large enough to sustain one person. Every Indian received one tupu at marriage, another for each son and half a tupu for each daughter. After the death of a tenant, the land reverted to the state. (56: pp. 68-69, 57: pp. 126-127, 58: p. 274) Land not divided into tupu was treated as belonging to the Sun God and served to support the temples and the priests. The remaining land belonged to the Inca class or directly to the state. All these lands were worked by peasants according to a detailed schedule. Control over all farm work was exercised by clerks. For example, they gave the daily signal for the peasants to begin work by sounding a conch from a specially constructed tower. (56: pp. 70-71, 58: p. 247)
The peasants were liable to military service and to obligatory labor--tilling the land of the temples and the Incas, building new temples and palaces for the Inca or the Incas, mending roads, building bridges, working in the gold and silver mines owned by the state, and so on. Some of these duties required moving the peasants to distant areas of the empire, in which case the state undertook to feed them. (56: p. 88-89)
The raw materials for crafts were provided by the state; finished products were delivered to it. For example, llamas were shorn by state slaves, the wool distributed by officials to peasants for spinning and the finished material subsequently collected by other officials.
The law divided the life of a male peasant into ten periods and prescribed the obligations of each age group. Thus, from age nine to sixteen, the peasant was to be a herdsman, from sixteen to twenty, a messenger or a servant in the house of an Inca, etc. Even duties of
the last age group (over sixty) were specified: spinning rope, feeding ducks, and so on. Cripples formed a special group, but they too, as Guamán Poma de Ayala reports, were designated for certain work. Similar prescriptions existed for women. The law required constant activity from the peasants. A woman on her way to another house was to take wool with her and to spin on the way. (56: p. 80, 57: pp. 129-131) According to the chronicle of Cieza de León, peasants were sometimes made to perform completely useless work simply so as not to be idle--for example, they were forced to move a hill of dirt from one place to another. (56: p. 81, 57: p. 132) Garcilaso de la Vega informs us that work was found for cripples. (58: p. 300) He also cites a law against idlers--a man who tilled his field badly was hit several times with a stone in the shoulders or flogged with a rod. (56: p. 276) The completely incapacitated and the aged were maintained by the state or the rural community. For work, the peasants were joined into groups of ten families, five such groups into a larger group, etc., up to ten thousand families. There was an official head for each group. The lower members of this hierarchy were appointed from the peasantry; higher posts were occupied by Incas. (57: pp. 96-97, 59: p. 77)
Not only work but the whole life of the citizenry was controlled by officials. Special inspectors continuously traveled about the country observing the inhabitants. To facilitate supervision, peasants, for instance, were obliged to keep their doors open during meals (the law prescribed the time of meals and restricted the menu). (56: p. 96, 57: p. 132) Other aspects of life were also strictly regimented. Officials issued every Indian two cloaks from the state stores--one for work and the other for festivals. Within each individual province, the cloaks were indistinguishable in style and color and differed only according to the sex of their bearers. The cloak was to be used until it was worn out. Changes in cut and color were forbidden. There were laws against other extravagances: it was forbidden to have chairs in the house (only benches were allowed), to build houses of a larger size than authorized, etc. Each province had a special obligatory hair style. (55: p. 91, 57: p. 132) Such prescriptions extended to other classes, for instance, the quantity and size of gold and silver vessels that an official of lower rank could possess were strictly limited according to his station. (56: pp. 91-92)
The inhabitants of newly conquered areas were under especially
severe control. Residents from central provinces were dispatched to new regions, where they were entitled to enter the houses of the subjugated people at any time of day or night and were obliged to report on any sign of discontent. Peasants were not allowed to leave their villages without special permission. Control was made easier by the differences in the color of clothing and the varied hair styles. Special officials supervised traffic on bridges and at gates. The state itself, however, carried on compulsory resettlement on a large scale. Resettlement sometimes was occasioned by economic factors--people were moved to a province devastated by an epidemic or transferred to a more fertile area. Occasionally, the reason was political, as with the resettlement of inhabitants from the original provinces of the empire to newly conquered lands or, on the contrary, the dispersion of a newly conquered tribe throughout the more loyal population of the empire. (56: pp. 99-100, 59: p. 58)
Family life was also under the control of the state. All men were obliged to enter into marriage upon reaching a certain age. Once each year, every village was visited by a special official who conducted a public marriage ceremony, in which everyone who had come of age the previous year took part. Spaniards who described the customs of the Inca state often asserted that the preference of the person being married was not asked for. And Santillan, writing at the end of the sixteenth century, reports that objections were punishable by death. On the other hand, Father Morúa reports that a man could indicate that he had already promised to marry another girl, and the official would then review the matter. It is clear, however, that the opinion of the bride was never solicited. (57: pp. 158, 160)
Members of the top social group--the Incas--had the right to several wives, or more precisely, concubines, since the first wife had a special position while the others were relegated to the role of servants. Marriage with the first wife was indissoluble; concubines could be driven out and would thereafter not be allowed to marry again. (57: p. 156) The number of concubines permitted by law depended on the social status of the man; it could be twenty, thirty, fifty, etc. (57: p. 134) For the Inca and his immediate family, there was no limitation whatever. The multitude of wives and the consequently large number of offspring resulted in an ever increasing proportion of Incas in the general population.
There was a special category of women--the so-called elect. Each
year, officials were sent to all sections of the country to select girls eight or nine years old. These were called the "elect." They were brought up in special houses (called "convents" in some Spanish accounts). Every year during a special celebration, those who had reached thirteen years of age were sent to the capital, where the Inca himself divided them into three categories. Some, called Solar Maidens, were returned to the "convent," where they were to engage in activities associated with the worship of the gods of sun, moon and stars. They had to observe chastity, although the Inca could give them to his circle as concubines or take them for himself. Girls from the second group were distributed by the Inca as wives or concubines. A gift of this kind from the Inca was regarded as a high distinction. Finally, a third group was intended for the human sacrifices that took place regularly, but on a particularly large scale at the coronation of a new Inca. The law provided for the punishment of parents who showed their grief when their daughters were chosen for the "elect." (57: pp. 161-162) Apart from the "elect," all unmarried women were also at the disposal of the Incas, but not as private property; rather, they were allotted to them by government officials for use as concubines and servants. The oppressed status of women in the Inca state is particularly notable against the background of the neighboring Indian tribes, where women enjoyed much independence and authority. (57: p. 159)
It is clear that such total regulation of life and the omnipresent state control would have been impossible without a multifaceted bureaucratic apparatus. The bureaucracy was built on a purely hierarchical principle. Every official had contact only with his superior and his subordinates; officials of the same rank could communicate only through their common chief. (56: p. 96) The main function of this bureaucracy was the keeping of accounts by means of the sophisticated and as yet undeciphered system of knotted strings.
The idea of the quipu was a curiously accurate reflection of the hierarchical structure of the state machinery. A hierarchy was introduced into the material area as well; for instance, all types of arms were arranged by "seniority." The lance was considered to be senior to other weapons; next came the arrow, then the bow, and so on. According to the seniority of these objects, they were denoted by knots tied higher or lower on a string. Learning the art of quipu began with learning the principles of "seniority" by rote.
Information encoded in this way was passed up the bureaucratic
ladder to the capital, where it was examined and preserved by types: military, population, provisions, etc. In the Spanish chronicles it is asserted that even the number of stones for slings, the number of animals killed in hunting and other such data were kept. Guamán Poma de Ayala writes: "They keep an account of everything that occurs in their state, and in every village there are secretaries and treasurers for that. ...The state is governed with the help of quipu." (56: pp. 94-95) There are accounts of truly remarkable administrative achievements, such as the creation of armies of workers numbering 20,000 men or an operation in which 100,000 bushels of maize are distributed among a population of a large region according to strictly fixed norms. (56: p. 102)
The workers in the bureaucracy were trained in schools that only children of the Incas were permitted to attend. (The law forbade education for the lower levels of the population.) Teaching was performed by the amautas or "scholars." Their duties included the writing of history in two versions: one, objective records in the form of quipu, which were preserved in the capital and intended only for special authorized officials, and the other in the form of hymns to be narrated to the people at festivals. If a dignitary was deemed unworthy, his name was removed from the "festival" history. (56: pp. 75-76, 78)
The laws regulating life in the Inca state relied on a sophisticated system of punishment. Penalties were severe--almost always death or torture. This is to be expected: when all life is regulated by the state, any infringement of the law is a crime against the state and, in turn, affects the very foundation of the social system. Thus a man guilty of cutting down a tree or stealing fruit in a state plantation was subject to the death penalty. Abortion was punished by death for the woman and for anyone who may have assisted her. (59: p. 173)
The system provided for an extraordinary variety of capital punishments: the victim could be hanged by the feet or stoned or thrown into a gorge or hanged by the hair over a cliff or thrown into a pit with jaguars and poisonous snakes. (57: p. 42) For the most serious offenses, there were provisions for the execution of all relatives of the accused. Guamán Poma de Ayala's manuscript contains a drawing of the slaughter of a whole family whose chief member had been determined to be a sorcerer. Burying the bodies of executed criminals could be prohibited as a further punishment. Burial of the bodies of mutineers
was forbidden, for example. Their flesh was thrown to wild beasts, and drums were made of their skin, bowls of the skulls and flutes of the arm and leg bones. Finally, a victim could be put to torture before execution. "He who kills another to rob him will be punished by death. Before the execution he will be tortured in jail so that the penalty should be harder. Then he will be executed." (57: p. 143) Many forms of punishment differed little from execution. For instance, Cieza de León, Cobo, Morúa and Guamán Poma de Ayala describe jails in underground caves in which jaguars, bears, venomous snakes and scorpions were kept. Incarceration in this type of prison was used as a test of guilt. Generally, this form of trial was used in the case of people suspected of plotting rebellion. Persons sentenced to life imprisonment were kept in other underground jails. (57: p. 142) A penalty of five hundred lashes (provided by law as a punishment for theft) probably was the equivalent of a death sentence. There was a punishment called the "stone execution," where a huge stone was tossed onto the victim's shoulders. According to Guamán Poma de Ayala, this killed many and crippled others for life.
Other punishments consisted of forced labor in state gold and silver mines or on coca plantations in difficult tropical climates. Forced labor could be either for life or for a fixed term. Finally, minor offenders were subject to various corporal punishments. (57: p. 144)
It goes without saying that equality before the law did not exist. For one and the same crime a peasant might be executed, while an Inca would get off with a public reprimand. As Cobo reports: "The premise here was that for an Inca of royal blood (all Incas were theoretically related), a public reprimand was a heavier penalty than death for a pleebeian." (56: p. 79, 57: p. 143)
Seduction of another's wife was accorded corporal punishment. But if a peasant seduced an Inca woman, both were executed; as Guamán Poma de Ayala recounts, both were hanged naked by the hair over a cliff until they died. (57: p. 146)
A crime against property was also punished differently depending on whether the interests of the state or a private party were involved. Someone guilty of picking fruit on a private estate could avoid punishment, if he could prove that he had done so out of hunger. But if the owner was an Inca, the guilty party was subject to death. (57: p. 145)
The complete subjugation of life to the prescriptions of the law
and to officialdom led to extraordinary standardization: identical clothing, identical houses, identical roads. Repetition of the same descriptive details is characteristic of the old Spanish accounts. The capital city, built of identical houses made of identical block stone and divided into identical blocks, undoubtedly created the impression of a prison town. (56: p. 117) As a result of this spirit of standardization, anything the least bit different was looked upon as dangerous and hostile, whether it was the birth of twins or the discovery of a strangely shaped rock. Such things were believed to be a manifestation of evil forces hostile to society. Events were to show that the fear of unplanned phenomena was quite justified: the huge empire proved powerless against less than two hundred Spaniards. Neither their firearms nor their horses (animals unknown to the Indians) can explain this extraordinary turn of events. The same difference in armaments was after all involved in the subjugation of the Zulus, but they were able to mount a long and successful resistance to large detachments of English forces. The reason for the collapse of the Inca empire must apparently be sought elsewhere--in the complete atrophy of individual initiative, in the ingrained habit of acting only at the direction of officials, in the spirit of stagnation and apathy.
Ondegardo, a Spanish judge who served in Peru in the sixteenth century, noted a similar phenomenon. In his books, he constantly laments the complete regimentation of life and the removal of all personal stimuli which led to a weakening of and, sometimes, the complete destruction of family relationships. Grown children, for instance, often refused to take care of their parents. (56: p. 127) Baudin, a French student of Latin American history, sees in many traits of the contemporary Indians the aftermath of Inca rule--indifference to the fate of the state, lack of initiative, apathy. (56: pp. 124-125)
To what extent is it possible to call the Inca state socialist? Without any doubt, it is much more entitled to this designation than any of the contemporary states that regard themselves as belonging to this category. Socialist principles were clearly expressed in the structure of the Inca state: the almost complete absence of private property, in particular of private land; absence of money and trade; the complete elimination of private initiative from all economic activities; detailed regulation of private life; marriage by official decree; state distribution of wives and concubines. On the other hand, we do not encounter
either communal wives or communal upbringing of children. A wife, though given by the state to the peasant, was his alone, and children grew up in the family (if the special class of girls chosen to be "elect" is excluded). Nevertheless, the Inca state seems to have been one of the fullest incarnations of socialist ideals in human history. This is indicated by the striking similarity between the Inca way of life and numerous socialist utopias, sometimes down to the smallest detail. In his work The Incas of Peru, Baudin tells that during a report on the Inca state at the Paris Academy of Sciences, a member asked whether it would not be possible to show an influence of the Incas on Thomas More's Utopia. (56: p. 165) This would have been quite impossible, of course: More's Utopia was written in 1516, while Peru was discovered by the Spaniards in 1531. The similarities are, therefore, all the more striking and show how socialist principles inevitably led to the same conclusions in the centuries-long practice of the Inca administrators and in the mind of the English philosopher.
But later socialist writers undoubtedly were under the strong influence of what they had heard of the "Peruvian Empire." In one of his works, Morelly describes a society that lives in "natural conditions" and without distinction between "thine" and "mine," and says that the "Peruvians" had laws of this kind. We have already quoted (in Part I) a similar passage from the article "The Legislator" in the Encyclopédie, and we invite the reader to compare Diderot's description (pp. 112-114 above) with the historical facts. It is quite possible that the Inca model provided numerous details in the depiction of the future society by the writers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is easy enough to imagine how readily they absorbed the stories then current in Europe of a real society so close in spirit to their ideals. This leads to a general problem of great interest--that of the influence exerted on the socialist literature, beginning with Plato, by the "socialist experiment," that is, by the practical implementation of socialist ideals in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Peru.
2. The Jesuit State in Paraguay
Although one would have thought that the Spanish conquistadors had written an end to socialism in South America, it had a continuation nevertheless. Some one hundred to one hundred fifty years later, in an area not far from the former Inca state, a political system in the
Inca tradition was established in Paraguay by the Jesuits. The history of Spanish penetration into Paraguay begins in 1516, when Don Juan Díaz de Solís discovered the mouth of the Paraná river and conquered the surrounding territories. In 1537, Juan de Salazar de Espinoza founded Asunción, the capital of the new province of Paraguay.
The native inhabitants of Paraguay were Indians of the Guarani tribe. Missionary work among them was first undertaken by the Dominican monk Las Casas. The Jesuits took part in this effort later. With the realistic approach so typical of their order, they decided to make acceptance of Christianity practically advantageous and so attempted to protect their converts from the Indians' main enemy, the slave traders called paulistas (from the state of Sao Paulo, the center of the slave trade at the time). Suppression of the slave trade had been beyond the Spanish crown's capabilities for years. Yet the Jesuits succeeded in providing security against raids for Indians in large areas of Paraguay. To achieve this, they accustomed the Indians to a sedentary life, placing them in large settlements called reductions. The first reduction was set up in 1609. It seems that a plan existed at first for the creation of a great state with access to the Atlantic Ocean, but paulista raids made this impossible. Beginning in 1640, the Jesuits armed the Indians and fought through to an area where they settled their flock. It was almost inaccessible, bordered on one side by the Andes and on the other by the rapids of the rivers Parana, La Plata and Uruguay. The entire territory was covered with a network of reductions. As early as 1654, the Jesuits Macheta and Cataladino obtained from the Spanish crown an exemption of the realm of the Society of Jesus from subordination to the Spanish colonial forces and from paying tithes to the local bishop. The authorization to arm the Indians was a further exception to the absolute ban introduced by the Spanish government in all parts of South America. The Jesuits soon had a strong fighting force at their disposal.
In their dealings with the Spanish government, the Jesuits steadfastly denied that they had created an independent state in Paraguay. It is true that certain accusations were exaggerated, as for example the book about the "Emperor of Paraguay," which included his portrait, as well as coins allegedly minted at court, both being nothing but a contrivance of the Jesuits' enemies. But it is also a fact that the area controlled by the Jesuits was so isolated from the external world that
it could in fact be considered an independent state or a dominion of Spain. Jesuits were the only Europeans in the region. They prevailed on the government to pass a law that allowed no European to enter the territory of the reductions without the Jesuits' permission. In any case, no visitor was allowed to stay longer than three days. The Indians were not able to leave their reductions except in the company of the Fathers. In spite of numerous government demands, the Jesuits refused to teach the Indians the Spanish language; they devised a writing system for the local Guarani language. The Jesuits who lived in the area were not Spaniards for the most part, but included Germans, Italians and Scots. The territory had an army of its own and engaged in independent foreign trade. All this does tend to justify the term "Jesuit state," which is used by most scholars who have written on the subject. The population of the Jesuit state at the height of its development was 150,000 to 200,000 inhabitants. Most of these were Indians; in addition, there were some twelve thousand black slaves and between one hundred fifty and three hundred Jesuits. The state came to an end in 1767-1768, when the Jesuits were driven out of Paraguay as part of the general campaign of the Spanish government against the movement. In 1773, the Society of Jesus was abolished altogether by Pope Clement XIV.
The main organizational principles of the reductions were worked out by Father Diego de Torres. It is significant that he began his missionary work in Peru, where the Inca state had not yet been entirely forgotten. The Spanish authorities were exploiting the rich silver mines in the area, and they were concerned about keeping the Indians in one place. To this end, it was proposed that the social structure of the Inca period be maintained in its essentials. As he called for the setting up of reductions in Paraguay, Diego de Torres wrote that "the locality must be governed by the same system as in Peru." (61: p. 117) Many observers have come to the conclusion that the Jesuits consciously copied the structure of the Inca empire.
As already mentioned, the entire population of Jesuit Paraguay was concentrated in the reductions. These usually numbered some twO thousand to three thousand Indians, with the smallest ones containing about five hundred inhabitants and the biggest mission (St. Javier) numbering thirty thousand. Each reduction was run by two Jesuit Fathers, one being as a rule much older than the other. There were generally no other Europeans in the settlement. The senior Father, or "confessor,"
devoted himself primarily to religious functions, while the younger acted as his assistant and directed economic matters. Together the two possessed absolute power in the reduction. As the Jesuit Juan de Escadón states, in a letter written in 1760: "Secular power belongs totally to the Fathers, as much as or even more than spiritual power." (61: p. 146) The priests normally appeared before the Indians only at divine services. At other times, they communicated with them through intermediaries drawn from the local population. These local officials, called corregidors and alcaldes, were selected annually from a list compiled by the Fathers. Election was by a show of hands. The corregidors and alcaldes were completely subordinate to the Fathers, who could abolish or change any of the formers' orders. De Escadón writes that the corregidors and alcaldes reported to one of the Fathers every morning to get their decisions approved and to receive instructions as to the work order of the day. "This was accomplished as in a good family, where the father tells everyone what he must do for the day." (61: p. 148) "The limited intelligence of the Indians compelled the missionaries to take care of all affairs and to guide them in secular as well as in spiritual matters," as the Jesuit Charlevoix (in History of Paraguay) quotes his contemporary Antonio de Ulloa.
There were no laws--only the decisions made by the Fathers. They heard confession, which was obligatory for the Indians, and assigned penalties for all offenses. Penalties included: face-to-face reprimand, public reprimand, flogging, imprisonment, and banishment from the reduction. Many authors assert that there was no capital punishment, although Charlevoix writes about a certain unsubmissive local official who was burned up in a fire sent by God. (62: p. 13) An offender was first made to repent in church, was dressed as a heretic, and was then subjected to the punishment. De Ulloa writes: "They had such great confidence in their pastors that they regarded even an unprovoked penalty as deserved." (60: p. 140, 62: p. 31)
The entire life of the reduction was based on the principle that the Indians were to possess practically nothing of their own--neither land nor houses nor raw materials nor handicraft tools. The Indians did not even belong to themselves. Thus, de Escadón writes: "These plots, as with the other lands of the mission, belong to the community and no inhabitant has more than the right to use them. Therefore, they never sell anything to one another. The same is true of the houses
in which they live. ...The community takes care of all the houses, makes repairs and builds new ones as needed." (61: p. 148) The reduction was divided into two parts: tupambé (God's land) and abambé (private land). The difference was not in the form of tenure, since both types belonged to the mission, but simply that tupambé was tilled collectively, while abambé was divided into plots and distributed among individual families.
Muratori writes that abambé was lent to the Indians for working. (60: p. 145) A plot of land was granted to an Indian when he married. It was not hereditary, and if the man died, his widow and children did not retain the plot. The land reverted to a common fund and the dependents became wards of the mission. Charlevoix says that work on individual plots was regulated by the administration in the same way as on common land. (60: p. 145) In the monthly Catholic Missions, it was reported that seeds and tools for working the individual plots were lent by the community. In the majority of missions, families lived on crops harvested from their individual plots. However, in certain reductions they were required to deliver a part of their harvest to the mission, with rations later dispensed in return. In any case, work on the individual plots and the crops produced on them were under strict control everywhere. Charlevoix writes: "It was known how much a plot of land yielded and the crops from it were under the supervision of those who were particularly concerned with looking after it. And if there had been no strict hand over the Indians, they would soon have found themselves with no means of subsistence." (62: p. 37)
Work on the communal land was obligatory for all Indians, including administrators and artisans. Before work, one of the Fathers delivered a sermon. The Indians then set out for the fields in columns, to the sound of drum and flute. They returned from work singing uplifting songs. Work was supervised at all times by inspectors and spies who apprehended idlers. "Culprits were severely punished," writes Muratori. (60: p. 159)
All crops essential to the mission's economy were grown on communal land. Eyewitnesses are unanimous in pointing out differences in the cultivation of individual and communal lands: while communal lands were carefully tilled, the individual plots looked neglected. The Jesuits constantly complained of the indifference of the Indians to working
their own fields; they preferred to be punished for a badly cultivated plot and to live on the communal stores. The Indians were capable of eating the seed grain distributed to them and coming back for more--and a sound flogging--several times over. The Jesuits saw the reason for this not in the peculiarities of the social system they had established but in the "childish" nature of the Indians. Father J. Cardiel wrote in 1758: "For 140 years we have been fighting this, but there has hardly been any improvement. And so long as they have but a child's intelligence, things will not get better." The communities possessed huge herds of horses and oxen that were pastured in the pampas. Communal oxen were given to the Indians to work their plots. "Sometimes the Indian kills one or both oxen to eat meat at his pleasure. He later reports that they have become lost and pays for the loss with his back." (Escadón, 61: p. 149)
The meat of communal oxen was distributed among the residents two or three times a week. On the appointed day, the inhabitants came to the storehouse, where the storekeeper called everyone's name and dispensed a standard portion of meat. Indians also received a ration of local tea.
Various crafts were encouraged in the reductions, and a high level of workmanship was achieved. Wool was dispensed to the women to be spun at home, the finished cloth being collected on the following day. All tools and raw materials belonged to the reduction and not to the individual craftsman. Moreover, a large part of the craftsmen worked in communal workshops. José Cardiel writes: "All craft work is done not in the home, since that would be very ineffective; it is performed in the courtyards of the collegium." (61: p. 164) The missions had stonemasons, brickmakers, arms makers, millers, clockmakers, artists, jewelers and potters. Construction included brick factories, kilns for producing quicklime, mills powered by horses and by men. Organs were made, bells cast, books printed in foreign languages (for export). By the beginning of the eighteenth century, every reduction had a Sundial or a mechanical clock of local manufacture, according to which the workday was regulated.
All products were delivered to the storehouses, where Indians who could write and keep accounts were employed. Part of the production Was distributed to the population. Fabrics were divided into equal pieces and distributed by name, one day to girls, the next to boys,
then to men and finally to women. Each man was given 5.5 meters of canvas for clothing a year and each woman, 4.5 meters. Each received a knife and an ax once a year. The major portion of the articles produced in the reduction was for export. Given the large herds, vast amounts of tanned skins were produced; there were tanning and shoemaking shops in the missions, with the entire production being exported--Indians were not allowed to wear shoes.
The artisan skills of the Indians amazed many observers. Charlevoix writes that the Guarani succeeded "as though instinctively in any craft they undertook.. ..For instance, it was enough to show them a crucifix, a candlestick, an amulet and to give them the necessary material for them to make an identical copy. Their work could be distinguished from the original model only with difficulty." (60: pp. 115-116) Other observers also stress the imitative character of the Indian craftsmanship.
Trade did not exist either within reductions or between them. There was no money. Each Indian held a coin in his hands only once in his lifetime--during the wedding ceremony, when he handed it as a gift to his bride, the coin being returned immediately thereafter to the priest.
On the other hand, foreign trade was conducted on a large scale. Reductions exported, for instance, more local tea than all the rest of Paraguay. The Jesuit state was also compelled to import some items--above all, salt and metals (especially iron).
All reductions were built according to one plan. In the center there was a square plaza on which a church was situated. The square was bordered by the jail, the workshops, storehouses, the armory, a weaving shop in which widows and female offenders worked, a hospital and a guesthouse. The rest of the territory was broken up into equal square blocks of houses.
Clay-plastered cane cabins served as dwellings for the Indians. A hearth was located in the middle of the structure; smoke was allowed to go out through the door. People slept without beds, either on the floor or in a hammock. The Austrian Jesuit Sepp, who came to Paraguay in 1691, describes these houses as follows: "The dwellings of the natives are simple one-room cabins made of earth and brick. They have little to recommend them. Inside, father, mother, sisters and brothers crowd together with the dog, cats, mice, rats, etc. There are cockroaches
everywhere. The stench is unbearable to someone unaccustomed to it." Funes writes in The Civil History of Paraguay that "the houses had neither windows nor any means of ventilation; there was also no furniture--all residents of the missions sat on the ground and ate on the ground." (63: p. 26) It was only shortly before they were driven out of Paraguay that the Jesuits began to build more suitable quarters for the Indians. The dwellings were not considered private property, and an Indian was not permitted to give his house away. In contrast to the Indian dwellings, the churches were impressive in their splendor. They were built of stone and richly decorated. The church in the mission of St. Javier accommodated between four thousand and five thousand persons; its walls were overlaid with shiny plates of mica, the altars were covered with gold.
At dawn a bell was rung to wake up the Indians and to call them to prayers (obligatory for all). They then went to work to another peal of the bells. They retired to bed on signal also, and after dark the settlement was patrolled by detachments of the most reliable Indians. Special permission was required to be outside at night. (61: p. 176,62: p. 29)
The reduction was surrounded by a wall and a moat. Gates were guarded carefully; entry and exit was forbidden without a pass. Contact among Indians from different reductions was not permitted. None of the Indians, except for soldiers and herdsmen, had the right to ride horseback. All means of conveyance--boats, canoes, carriages--belonged to the community. (63: p. 44)
All Indians wore identical clothing made from material obtained from the communal stores. Only officials and officers dressed differently, but only when on duty. At other times, their uniforms and their arms were kept in a storehouse.
Marriages were contracted twice a year at solemn ceremonies. The choice of a wife or husband was under control of the priests. If a youth took a liking to a girl or vice versa, this was taken into account and the party concerned was informed. But the Fathers, apparently, also functioned independently and decided on marriages themselves, regardless of the young people's preferences. In at least one recorded instance, a large group of young men and women took flight in protest over these practices. After prolonged negotiations, they returned to the reduction, but the Fathers were forced to sanction the marriages they demanded. (63: p. 43)
Children began working at an early age. Charlevoix writes that "as soon as a child reached the age at which he could work, he was brought to a workshop and assigned to a craft." (60: p. 116) The Jesuits were concerned that the population of the reductions grew very little, despite unusually good conditions from the Indian point of view, such as medical aid and safeguards against famine. To stimulate the birth rate, they did not allow Indian males to wear long hair (a sign of adulthood) until the birth of a child. The same purpose was sought by ringing a bell at night summoning them to perform their "marital duties." (64: p. 31)
The Jesuits justified their control over all aspects of the Indians' lives by reference to the latter's low development. The following judgment by Funes is typical: "Never acting according to reason, they ought to have several centuries of social childhood before reaching that maturity which is the preliminary condition of the full enjoyment of liberty." (62: p. 371) In the letter quoted earlier, the Jesuit Escadón writes: "In truth and without the slightest exaggeration, none of them has greater faculty, intelligence and capacity of common sense than as we observe in Europe in children who can read, write and learn, but who are nevertheless in no condition to decide for themselves." (61: p. 146) Meanwhile the Jesuits themselves were doing everything possible to stifle the Indians' initiative and interest in the results of their labor. In the Reglamento of 1689, we find the following advice: "It is permissible to give them something to make them feel satisfied, but this needs to be done in such a way that they do not develop a sense of interest." Only toward the end of their rule did the Jesuits try (no doubt for economic reasons) to promote private initiative, for instance, by turning over cattle to individuals. But these experiments failed to bring any results. One exception, recorded by Cardiel, was a case in which a small herd was built up, though its owner was a mulatto. (60: p. 146)
The Jesuits' enemies, the anti-clerical writer Asara in particular, reproached them for having starved the Indians and burdened them with work. But the impression gained from Jesuit sources seems more convincing and logical: hunger-free existence, rest every Sunday, guaranteed dwelling and a cloak. ...Yet this almost successful attempt at reducing hundreds of thousands of people to a life as lived in an ant hill seems far more terrible a picture than that of a hard-labor camp.
The Jesuits in Paraguay (and elsewhere in the world) fell victim to their own success. They became too dangerous: in the reductions, they had created a well-equipped army of up to twelve thousand men, which was apparently the predominant military force in the region. They interfered in internal conflicts and took the capital of Asunción by assault on more than one occasion. They defeated Portuguese troops and delivered Buenos Aires from a British siege. During a mutiny, the viceroy of Paraguay, Don José de Antequera, was defeated by them. Several thousand Guarini participated in the battles, equipped with firearms and including some cavalry units. The Jesuit army began to inspire more and more apprehension in the Spanish government.
The fall of the Jesuits was greatly hastened by the widespread rumors of the enormous riches they were supposed to be accumulating. There was talk of gold and silver mines and of fabulous revenue from foreign trade. The latter rumor seemed particularly plausible in view of cheap Indian labor and the unusual fertility of the land.
After driving the Jesuits out, government officials rushed in to look for hidden treasure--and discovered nothing. The storehouses in the reductions proved bitterly disappointing and contained none of the riches that they were supposed to yield: the economy had not been profitable!
After the collapse of the Jesuit state, most of the Indians drifted away from the reductions and returned to their former religion and their nomadic way of life.
It is interesting to note the appraisal given to Jesuit activity in Paraguay by the spokesmen of the Enlightenment. Although the Jesuits were considered their greatest enemies, the phi1osophes could not find lofty enough terms to characterize the Paraguayan state. In The Spirit of the Laws (Book 4, Chapter 6), Montesquieu writes: "The Society of Jesus had the honor. ..of proclaiming for the first time ever the idea of religion in combination with the idea of humanity. ... The Society attracted tribes scattered in villages, provided them with secure livelihood and clothed them. It will always be admirable to govern people so as to make them happy."
And Voltaire, in this case speaking about "l'infâme," expressed even greater respect in his Essay on Rights: "The spread of Christianity in Paraguay by the efforts of the Jesuits alone was, in a certain sense, a triumph of humanity."