“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
Buy Bakounine’s “God and the State.”
Our friends Harman and Walker, have changed the name of their excellent journal, the “Kansas Liberal,” to “Lucifer, the Light-Bearer.” A very happy thought! Quite the best name we know of, after Liberty!
The names selected by us for our periodicals seem to be popular. Mr Schumm of Chicago appropriated some time ago the title of “Radical Review,” and now a party in London unknown to us has started a paper called “Liberty.” Well, we don’t care, provided these gentlemen will never deviate on any question from the principles which these names stand for.
John Swinton is on the point of starting a new paper in New York. We wish him well, for he is sure to tell lots of truth in it. We shall wish him more than well, if he does not fly the flag of Authority. But, having read his testimony before the Senate labor committee, we dare not hope for this. About his testimony, by the way, we have something to say, but cannot say it, as we intended, in this issue.
The Boston “Herald” of August 30 said: “The use of money to influence voters is the most corrupting influence possible in a country of free institutions. It saps the very foundations of our government.” Pshaw! It is no such thing! If it sapped the foundations of our government, the foundations, government and all, would have gone long ago. Instead of sapping the foundations of our government, money, and the hope of getting it, are the foundations! What other foundations, pray, has our government?
Robert Buchanan’s “Freedom’s Ahead,” printed in another column, is one of the finest poems in the English language. It has a place in the collection of “Fifty Perfect Poems” selected last year by Charles A. Dana. It is not, however, in our view, quite perfect. The last verse impairs it. Nothing could be more unphilosophical than picturing Freedom as Handmaid of the Lord. It is Tyranny that serves in that capacity. But poets are seldom philosophers. They are accustomed to give a celestial embodiment to their upward aspirations, and almost always feel that they must manage to ring the Lord into their climaxes in some way or other. Now and then we have such exceptions as Byron and Shelley, but these are very rare song-birds.
Mr. E. C. Walker of Kansas complains because the Greenback party of Iowa has put a plank in its platform in favor of a prohibitory liquor law, and says that “the church and the patent moralists outside have captured the party and hitched it to the car of retrogression.” Mr. Walker should not have expected anything else. Moreover, his statement is incorrect. The patent moralists have not captured the party; they founded it. The party was originally organized on the principle that it is immoral and should be made a crime for individuals or associations to issue their notes to circulate as currency among such people as are willing to take them. The Greenkackers, then, are perfectly consistent. Granting the right to dictate the sort of money that people shall use, how can any one deny the right to dictate their drink? But Mr. Walker probably made a slip of his pen. He is an out-and-out Anarchist, and knows as well as we do that all the tyrannies, like all the liberties, logically stand or fall together.
The Springfield “Republican,” which heretofore has regarded Liberty as worthy only of a sneer, has so far improved its manners as to quote our views of the telegraphers’ strike, and add: “It is worth while to know what the Anarchists among us think, for, though few in numbers, they indicate a tendency of the time.” Commenting upon our assertion that a “new brotherhood is silently developing that will yet make strikes mean something,” the “Republican” further says that the editor of Liberty “ought to know that the stronger force for justice is one that does not depend upon ‘brotherhoods.’ The majority of this country’s voters are farmers, and not city knaves, dupes, and fools.” Is not, then, the farmer a man and a brother, and did the “Republican” never hear of the Grangers? The editor of the “Republican” ought to know that in Europe the Anarchists are carrying on their propagandism largely in the agricultural districts, and that Liberty even now finds its way to the remotest corners of the earth.
A congress of Anarchists, semi-Anarchists, and Revolutionary Socialists, as distinguished from the Social Democrats, is to be held in Pittsburg, beginning October 14. We had expected to attend, either in person or by proxy, but circumstances compel us to disappoint ourselves. We regret this the more because an elaborately-developed plan of reconciling the various schools of Socialists is to be presented and supported there by delegates acting for the San Francisco section. This document, which has been sent to us, does not reconcile in the least, but simply and summarily places Liberty and Authority side by side and arbitrarily says: “These twain are one flesh!” We will be parties to no such marriage. Every friend of Liberty who may go to Pittsburg is hereby urged to examine this document carefully before giving it his adhesion. Great pains has been taken in its preparation; it is specious and plausible; but it is perhaps the most foolishly inconsistent piece of work that ever came to our notice. It may receive closer analysis hereafter in these columns.
The difference between the attitudes of the “Index” and the “Truth Seeker” toward Bakounine’s “God and the State” is interesting. The “Index” review is patronizing, ignorant, superficial, thoughtless. One sentence in it is particularly stupid: “An acquaintance with evolution, as now taught by English and German thinkers, and especially with psychology and sociology, would have enabled the writer to correct many of his errors and to see the unscientific and unphilosophic character of many of the statements advanced by him as truisms.” One would suppose from this that Bakounine died twenty years ago instead of in 1876, and no doubt the editor of the “Index” supposed such to be the case. The facts are that Bakounine was perfectly familiar with all the principal languages and resided for long periods in almost all the chief European countries. With their literatures he was thoroughly conversant, with their principal writers he was in many instances personally intimate, and, if he had a passion for anything outside of the actual revolutionary movement, it was for philosophy, especially Gorman philosophy. The “Truth Seeker,” on the contrary, which is not, like the “Index,” one of those “pale phantoms eternally suspended between heaven and earth” described by Bakounine, appreciates the power and importance of “God and the State,” and gives it a four-column review, including liberal quotations, for which it has our heartfelt thanks. It is enthusiastic and intelligent in its praise. While not entirely endorsing Bakounine’s views of government, it says: “The book, taken all in all, is one of the most eloquent pleas for liberty ever written. It is Paine’s ‘Age of Reason’ and ‘Rights of Man’ consolidated and improved. It stirs the pulse like a trumpet call.” A book seldom receives higher compliment.
- Walker, of the Kansas “Lucifer,” writes as follows: “There are many of your Western readers who are still in the dark regarding your position on the monetary question. It is a matter of considerable difficulty to make them understand Free Banking, especially when they take into consideration the fact that you deny the right of private ownership of land. If land be held by a usufructuary title only, say these objectors, how can it be a sufficient or safe basis for a bank of issue, as contemplated by Warren, Greene, and others? Free Banks would be the property of individuals; land, not being private property, could not be used as security, and hence only the improvements thereon could be so used. But these forms of security are very liable to destruction by storms, fires, floods, and other destroying agencies. Will Liberty kindly throw some light upon this question for the benefit of these almost-persuaded Anarchists?” This objection can be answered very briefly. Land (or anything else) can be used as a basis of currency only so long as it has a market value. When by the economic revolution which Liberty advocates it shall cease to have a market value, its use as a basis of currency will have to be abandoned. Till then it may be so used, and Colonel Greene, who saw that the abolition of money monopoly must, or at any rate would, precede the abolition of land monopoly, rightly judged that in the beginning land would be one of the most available of securities. But at no time will the improvements on land resulting from labor cease to have a market value, and such of them as are of a sufficiently stable character may and will continue to be used as security after property in the land itself has disappeared. And the fact that those are liable to destruction by disaster is not an argument against their use as security unless they are peculiarly so liable. A house may at any time be burned, but a mortgage on an insured house is regarded as excellent security. Mutual banking will be followed and complemented by a system of mutual insurance. Then, when a man wishes to borrow money on particularly risky property, it will simply cost him more to do so because of the greater premium he will have to pay in order to insure the property in favor of the bank. Ultimately, however, after the abolition of monopoly has eliminated all danger of panics from the commercial would and made bankruptcy a thing of the past, specific property will fall more and more into disfavor as a basis of money, and the great bulk of our currency will be secured by satisfactorily-endorsed notes, thus realizing Colonel Greene’s declaration that “a commercial bank that issues paper money ought as such to be a mere clearing-house for legitimate business paper running to maturity.”
“A free man is one who enjoys the use of his reason and his faculties; who is neither blinded by passion, not hindered or driven by oppression, not deceived by erroneous opinions.” — Proudhon.
Has “Truth” Become a Liar?
Burnette G. Haskell,
Editor of the San Francisco “Truth”:
Dear Sir,— You and I, at least in one sense, are comrades in a common cause. You champion the cause of the poor. I champion the cause of Liberty and Justice, which includes the cause of the poor. When you started your journal, I learned that you were a young man lately recruited from the ranks of the enemy, and I seemed to see in your columns that new convert’s earnestness and enthusiasm which always bodes well for a cause when guided by a discriminating mind. But I also saw in them a ludicrous and yet mournful hodge-podge of sense and nonsense which made me fearful of the outcome. You seemed to be looking longingly toward the light of Liberty with a vision obscured by the dark shadow of Authority. I watched the struggle anxiously. To my sorrow, the darkness has been growing deeper. Now and then, here and there, a lightning flash penetrates its depths, but the dazzling brilliancy thereof blinds by contrast rather than illuminates, leaving the gloom thicker than before. Gradually I have been coming to regard you as mentally lost, intellectually untrustworthy, an unsafe guide for the multitude of persons just awakening to an interest in the labor cause.
But until lately I have had no reason to doubt your motives. On the contrary, they have been the object of my ardent admiration. Nevertheless, and against my will, your more recent course and policy have crossed my mind with a dim suspicion that, with the disappearance of your intellectual discrimination, the edge of your moral sense has been growing duller; that the darkness in which you are plunged is becoming your light; that, engulfed in Beelzebub’s kingdom, you are beginning to see with his eyes. I may be wrong in this opinion, which is hardly an opinion, being only a suspicion. But others watching with me share it, and I am advised to make its grounds public.
For a few months back, to say nothing of the inconsistencies of your editorial columns, you have been publishing in various issues of your paper long articles by prominent leaders of different schools of political and social thought (most of these leaders beieg dead and unable to protest), generally contradictory of each other, sometimes denunciatory of each other, and almost always breathing a different if not antagonistic spirit. Over these articles you have put flaring display heads, in which in almost every instance you give them your own warmest approval regardless of their opposition to each other. On one or two occasions, at least, you have expressly described in these head-lines the article under them as an exposition of the thought of another writer known by those who have read his works to be distinctly an antagonist of the views stated in the article. What to make of such conduct I did not know. I have since learned, as will be seen later, that, professedly, you are engaged in the hopeless task of reconciling Anarchism and State Socialism. It is as inconceivable that you should really look upon the articles referred to as harmonious with each other as that you should print in large letters in one column the statement that “twice two make four,” and in equally large letters in another column the statement that “twice two make five,” with your own declaration above them that both are true and capable of reconciliation. Hence the doubt arose whether pecuniary success or political ambition or some other object dearer to you than truth were not prompting you to bid for the support of the unthinking by appearing to fuse the crystallized thought of all schools of socialism in a white-hot blaze of seeming enthusiasm.
While I was pondering upon this, along came an issue of your journal containing an announcement made with considerable flourish that you were about to begin in it the serial publication of Michael Bakounine’s “God and the State.” This interested me, inasmuch as I had first introduced Bakounine to America in any marked way by printing in an early number of “Liberty” his picture and a sketch of his life, and afterwards importing and selling a few copies of the French edition of “God and the State” as soon as it appeared. One of these copies fell into the hands of a young lady whom “Liberty” counts among its most intelligent and steadfast supporters. She, as I have since ascertained, was so impressed with the power of the work that she translated it into English and offered her translation to you for publication in “Truth,” which you evidently accepted. Her motives in doing this are thus stated in a letter from one whose knowledge of the matter is positive: “She offered the translation to ‘Truth‘ principally because it is a State Socialistic paper apparently of considerable circulation, as she thought thus to bring it before a circle of readers to whom its ideas would be entirely new, and who might, through its influence, be brought into the Anarchistic fold.” A very commendable purpose, and one which, so far as her part in it is concerned, has been carried out very creditably indeed. No reconciliation in her thought, you see; propagandism pure and simple, with a view to absolute conversion. None of the criticisms that I am making upon you are to be understood as in the least applying to her. While I was sincerely glad that Bakounine’s work was to be placed before your readers, I at once saw that you were acting in pursuance of the strange policy which I have described above, and I was decidedly averse to having this author first introduced in English handicapped by misleading associations, even though knowing that his own clear statements would sooner or later carry the lesson which he intended them to convey. So I hurried to completion a translation which I had already begun and announced, and placed it in the hands of my printers, who promised it in pamphlet form for September 15. Thereupon I sent by mail to your business manager “copy” for an advertisement of the work, enclosing a postal note in payment for its insertion in your issues of September 15 and 22. It never so much as occurred to me that this advertisement would prove inadmissible to your columns. It was a simple announcement of the publication, to appear over my own name and on my own responsibility, containing in the body of it the following description of the book advertised:
This remarkable work, written by one of the most remarkable revolutionists that ever lived, and now published in English for the first time, shows eloquently, vigorously, and conclusively that the fiction of divine authority is the source of all governmental authority of whatever form, and of all tyrannies whatsoever; that the theism of Rousseau is only a modification of Roman Catholicism, and had its political results in the despotism of Robespierre and its social results in the monstrous schemes of Karl Marx and Lassalle to wipe out individual liberty; and that the Social Revolution can be successfully accomplished only by founding it on the atheism of Diderot and the resultant Anarchism of Danton and Proudhon. Every Socialist and every thinking person should buy and read this book.
To my utter astonishment I received in reply, not a copy of “Truth” containing the advertisement, but the following letters from yourself and your business manager, with which was returned the money that I had sent:
San Francisco, Cal., Sept. 10, 1883.
Benjamin R. Tucker, Esq.
Dear Sir,— Yours dated Sept. 3 came to hand tills morning. I regret exceedingly not to be able to insert your advertisement in its present form. Reasons and objections to said advertisement are briefly stated in accompanying letter from the editor of “Truth.” We shall indeed be most willing to insert the same, if you will modify the objectionable sentences.
San Francisco, Cal., Sept. 10, 1883.
Benj. R. Tucker,
Box 3366, Boston, Mass.:
Dear Sir,— I regret that I cannot insert your advertisement, as worded by you, in “Truth.” I am publishing “God and the State” serially in “Truth,” said publication having been begun before the receipt of your advertisement, and the manuscript having been in hand some weeks before I had any knowledge that you also proposed to publish it. “Truth” is engaged in an endeavor to reconcile the various factions of Socialists, and it is in pursuance of this endeavor that we publish Bakounine and shortly hope to publish abstracts of Proudhon. Your advertisement uses the words “monstrous schemes of Karl Marx and Lassalle,” &c. The effect of these words and others used in your advertisement would be such as to prejudice my readers against “God and the State” previous to reading it. I desire them to read it and form their own opinion of it. Besides this, I firmly believe that Marx’s scheme of governmental cooperation, modified by a single new principle, will form a common ground for unity between Socialists and Anarchists, if an attempt at such unity is not made impossible by reckless antagonisms which serve little good purpose. Briefly: Found State Socialism not upon the principle of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” but upon the principle of “To each according to his deeds” (or give to each man the full product of his own labor together with the right to labor), and in my opinion you have found Proudhon’s alkahest, viz.: “Destroy property while retaining possession, and by this you will drive evil from the face of the world.”
Engaged as I am in this contest, you can plainly see that it would not be right for me to deify any one of our great leaders, or permit any one else to do so in these columns, at the expense of heaping what I believe to be unmerited obloquy upon any other of our leaders.
I shall be happy to insert your advertisement, and glad to aid the circulation of “God and the State” in any way which will not result in doing more harm than good. I believe truly that your advertisement, worded as it is now and inserted in “Truth,” would cause two hundred per cent. more defections than adherents, not only to the paper, but the cause. Whereas the same people will read and assimilate the work with avidity, provided we do not label it “pills” and cram it down their throats with a club.
If you can formulate a notice which shall praise the work and not decry other of our workers in the field, I need not of course say that it will be entirely acceptable.
Burnette G. Haskell.
In addition to the eyes of Beelzebub, have you acquired the smooth tongue of Mephistopheles? From the above letter it would almost seem so. But to the air of impartiality which you assume you have forfeited all title in advance. I did not begin the labelling process; you did. If you had been content to print Marx and Proudhon, Robespierre and Bakounine, side by side, without labelling any of them, I too would have been content, and would have awaited the issue with joyful confidence. But, instead of that, you labelled them all, and tried to give the impression that their thought runs in the same direction. I desired to protest against this, and, if they must be labelled, label them more accurately. You refused to let me do so in your advertising columns, in which I doubt very much if there is another journal in the world that would follow your example. You undoubtedly have a right to control your own columns, but I submit that in this instance you have not exercised that control in a spirit of fairness. For proof I need nothing more than the flimsy pretence upon which you ground your conduct,— namely, that you will allow no one to heap obloquy upon “our leaders” in your columns. Why, then, are you printing Bakounine at all? Who ever heaped more obloquy upon Marx and Marxism than he? What is his whole book but a savage and telling onslaught upon all that Karl Marx stood for in the matter of government? Take an instance. Speaking of the “governmental pretensions “of the “licensed representatives,” the “priests” of social science, he says: “It is time to have done with these pontiffs, even though they call themselves social democrats.” To whom does he refer if not Marx and Lassalle? And what does he say about Robespierre, whom you have lauded so loudly? He calls him a “lay priest,” a “short-robed liar and sophist,” “the most doctrinally despotic will of the last century.” How large a percentage of defections as compared with adherents do you calculate that either your paper or the cause will suffer by the appearance in “Truth” of such delicate compliments as these? And you will print these things, and then refuse to let me speak in your advertising columns of the “monstrous schemes of Karl Marx and Lassalle?” Or do you intend to expurgate your edition of “God and the State”? If so, dare you tell your readers? And, if my memory serves me, it is not long since you allowed Karl Marx to class Proudhon in your columns with “hole and corner reformers of the most varied and piebald character,” and to the document in which he did so you gave your emphatic approval. How gauzy your excuse! Frankly, now, was not the real reason for the rejection of my advertisement a desire to prevent your readers from knowing that I was before you in the publication of “God and the State,” hoping perhaps that I might be discouraged from sending you a modified advertisement, and thinking that, at least, by reason of the length of time required for communication between Boston and San Francisco, you would be able to stave it off until your own serial publication should be completed or nearly so? If so, I balked you there. For, calling electricity to my aid, I directed you by telegraph to insert an advertisement of your own wording, and in your issue of September 22 you could not avoid announcing the dreaded fact, after having proclaimed just a week before that others need not proceed with their translations, for you “had distanced all competitors.”
I cannot discuss here the gigantic task you have undertaken of reconciling the Anarchists with the State Socialists. I wish you more joy in it than you are likely to experience. The basis of union which you offer certainly will not do. The Anarchists are even more hostile to the governmental than to the communistic features of State Socialism. You would eliminate the latter only. And not quite that, for there are planks in your platform, as you have elaborated it elsewhere, which flatly deny individual possession, and so lack the solvent quality of Proudhon’s “alkahest.” I invite you to the application of his touch-stone, by which all Anarchists swear: “Whoever, to organize labor, appeals to government and to capital, lies, because the organization of labor means the downfall of capital and of government.”
If you would like to know what others think of your project, read what one of your own subscribers writes to me:
“Truth’s” behavior is certainly very queer, and I can explain it only on the hypothesis that man is an illogical animal. The proposed union of Anarchists and State Socialists would be about as easy of achievement as the Biblical lying-down-together of the lion and the lamb. The Anarchists are apparently expected to play lamb. The strangest part is, however, that it should be expected that “God and the State” should furnish them with the necessary mildness and submission. It was rather a surprise to me to have “Truth” undertake to publish the essay, not only on account of its absolute and direct opposition to its own theories, but also because I knew Haskell to be in alliance with Cuno, and the latter usually describes Bakounine as an emissary of the Russian government.
The point could hardly have been more neatly put.
You are attempting the hopeless, the impossible Either Liberty or Authority must guide you wholly in your search for Truth. And if you accept Authority for your guide, Falsehood will be your goal. You cannot serve two masters. If you have not, as I fear you have, already chosen, then choose you this day.
Benj. R. Tucker.
P.S. — Another straw is just wafted to me indicative of your moral obliquity. Mr. H. W. Brown of Boston, who sells your paper, says that you recently printed what purported to be a letter from him in which he was made to say: “You must send me a double supply of ‘Truth’ hereafter.” He denies having written you anything of the sort. If this is the way you increase your subscription list, the “apparently considerable circulation” referred to in one of my quotations may be only apparent, not real. Is this one of the methods by which you propose to “play upon the masses” in accordance with your avowed intention in that marvellous reconciliatory document which you have prepared for submission to the Pittsburg Congress?
Is This Liberalism?
The natural sympathy and fellowship of Liberty is with the Freethinkers of this country and their organs. It matters little with us whether they are outspoken atheists of the Seaver and Mendum school, fearless iconoclasts of the Bennett and Ingersoll stripe, or the “uncertain, sickly souls,” as Bakounine calls them, the “Free Religionists.” It is enough for us to know that all of these disordered forms of revolt carry within themselves the promise and potency of coming Liberty. Their leaders are all acting better than they know, and we have no disposition with our limited space to antagonize them, except where the provocation becomes too great.
One of the most astonishing exhibitions of inconsistency which has of late come to us was an editorial in the Boston “Investigator” of September 19 on Mormonism. To show how utterly and suicidally on the side of theological despotism a professed and really earnest liberal can be, we reprint the article entire, as appended to a refreshing liberty-inspired clipping from an organ of theocracy:
The trouble in dealing with the Mormon question lies altogether in the fact that the government has no authority to establish or to destroy any sort of religion, true or false. The authority to break up a false religion involves the authority to destroy a true belief. There are some things which it is better to leave to the attack of moral agencies. When we undertake to regulate men’s belief, or their eating and drinking, or their going and coming, by statutes, we are at once involved in a maze of perplexities. — Hebrew Leader.
There is some truth in the above, but it is not all true. As the “Hebrew Leader “says, government should not interfere with religion or matters of belief; but suppose a religion maintains or practices what the law denominates a crime, can the government consistently guarantee and protect it? The law says that polygamy, which Mormonism teaches and practices, is a crime, and therefore must not be allowed. But if there were no polygamy in Mormonism, tho government could not properly interfere with it, any more than with Orthodoxy or Judaism. They can be left “to the attack of moral agencies.”
Last week three polygamous Mormons were convicted in the Dedham court, (Massachusetts,) not on account of their religion, but for committing crime, though, if they call it religion, it makes no difference in point of fact, as no religion should be protected by law in the commission of crime. If polygamy is right, let the law protect it; but if it is wrong, it should be suppressed.
The business of printing and soiling Freethought publications, in which Messrs. Seaver and Mendum are engaged, was once a crime under every government on the earth. According to their ruling, then, the practice of free thought was always justly interdicted, and the Inquisition was therefore right as against the martyrs whose protests have made I hem and the “Investigator” possible to-day. Not only this, but “blasphemous” articles appear every week in the “Investigator,” which, under a strict construction of the statutes of Massachusetts, constitute a crime and would send Messrs. Seaver and Mendum to jail. Are they ready to go, and do they not belong there as much as the polygamous Mormons sent from Dedham court? Certainly they do, under their own ruling.
But, once in jail, the distinguished editors of the “Investigator” have already plugged up their own mouths, should it occur to them that Freethought was their religion. They have committed a crime, and, to quote their own language, “if they call it a religion, it makes no difference in point of fact, as no religion should be protected by law in the commission of crime.”
It is painfully manifest in the above article that, according to the individual judgment of Messrs. Seaver and Mendum, the conscientious, religious application of free thought in love and domestic association is wrong, while its application in the business of Freethought publishing is right. Once themselves safe from the clutches of the Massachusetts jailer in their own application of free thought they now stand ready to strike hands with bigots in the State and their executives and stand guard over Massachusetts Mormons behind the bars who have simply executed their own application of free thought in their own chosen sphere Who are Messrs. Seaver and Mendum of the “Investigator” that they should dogmatically discriminate among the various applications of free thought, and decide who shall go to jail and who shall not in the exercise of soul liberty? What is this thing, “crime,” after all, but somebody’s prejudices, backed by the bayonet and the dungeon?
We are sorry to thus scold at the venerable pioneers of liberalism who occupy the Paine Hall Building, to whom we are heartily grateful for almost all that they have done and with whom we heartily cooperate in almost all that they are doing. But they ought to dig deeper into the philosophy of Liberty, lest a too shallow logic should by-and-by land them inside the prison doors which they are ready to open for Mormons and others whose “crime” simply consists in obeying the dictates of their own consciences.
The Troubles of Law-making in Massachusetts.
That portion of the people of Massachusetts, who believe in law-making, are at present split up into eight factions, to wit, the Republicans, the Democrats, the Independents, the Prohibitionists, the Greenbackers, the Woman Suffragists, the Colored Men, and Wendell Phillips. All these factions are now in full blast; and are so furious towards each other that we wonder how they manage to live under the same government; and why they endure each other’s tyranny. This question has heretofore perplexed us; but Robinson, the Republican candidate for governor, has solved the riddle. Quoting the. constitution of Massachusetts, he says the object of Aw faction is, that we may have “a government of laws, and not of men.”
We now understand the whole matter. All the other factions, as well as the Republican, are bent on having “a government of laws, and not of men.”
What the laws are, is not the vital matter with any of them. If they cannot have such as they desire, they will take such as they can get. In their eyes bad laws are better than none; for laws they must have; otherwise they cannot have that “government of laws, and not of men,” which they are all agreed is indispensable. So they endure each other’s laws as best they can; each faction hoping it may sometime be strong enough to make laws for the others.
Thus these factions are all so blinded by their passion for laws, that not one of them sees that “a government of laws” is itself “a government of men,” — that is, of the men who make the laws
Their rage against each other is such that they do not see that they are all contradicting themselves, and making fools of themselves.
Yet they must not be judged too harshly; for the constitution of Massachusetts led them into this absurdity; and the constitution has now stood a hundred years; and during all that time the people of Massachusetts have not found out that “a government of laws” is “a government of men.”
Such is the weakness of poor human nature.
Such political blindness is more to be pitied, than blamed; for it is not characteristic of any people to see the absurdities and self-contradictions of their own government. They are too blind worshippers of simple power to look after absurdities and self-contradictions, on the part of their idol.
But this idea, that “a government of laws” is not “a government of men,” is not the only absurdity, or self contradiction, to be found in the constitution of Massachusetts. It has this other:
All power residing originally in the people, and being derived from them, the several magistrates and officers of government, vested with authority, whether legislative, executive, or judicial, are their substitutes and agents, and are at all times accountable to them.
This is so far reasonable, that it implies that bad laws may be made and executed, and that all who either make or execute them, ought not only to be held personally accountable for their acts, but to be held accountable to the people themselves, who suffer from such laws.
Now, if this principle were carried out, we should not see eight separate factions scrambling and fighting for the power to make laws. We should probably not see a single man, who would dare to make, and execute upon his fellow-men, a single law that was really of his own invention.
But it seems to be naturally impossible for constitution-makers to declare a sensible idea, and leave it uncontradicted. And so the Massachusetts constitution-makers, instead of leaving the accountability of legislators to stand uncontradicted, proceeded to declare that they should be held to no accountability at all! This they did in these words:
The freedom of deliberation, speech, and debate [including, of course, voting on the laws] in either house of the legislature, is so essential to the rights of the people, that it cannot be the foundation of any accusation or prosecution, action or complaint, in any other court or place whatever.
This provision is in direct contradiction to the other; and licenses the legislators to make, with perfect impunity, all the bad laws they please. And this is really the only object of the provision; for the idea that honest legislators need a constitutional provision to prevent their being punished by the people for making good laws, is too absurd to be thought of. It is only those who wish to make bad laws, that wish to be protected against all-responsibility for their acts. And this provision was intended solely for their benefit; and that is why we have great volumes filled with laws so bad that nobody dares to be personally responsible for one of them.
But this is not all. The judicial and executive officers must also be protected against all personal responsibility to thee people, who suffer from the bad laws, else they would not dare to execute such laws. So this wise constitution, which pays that all judicial and executive officers ought to be held accountable To The People for their acts, declares that they shall be wholly irresponsible, except to the very legislators who make the laws! As long as they execute all the bad laws the legislators make, they are protected from all responsibility to the people who suffer from such laws!
Who can wonder that the people are divided into factions under such a constitution as this? Who can wonder that we are cursed with so many gangs of ignorant or unprincipled politicians, all struggling to grasp this irresponsible power over the people? Who can help wondering that the people themselves do not take the power into their own hands, and hold i all these creatures, legislators, judges, governors, and all, personally responsible for their acts?
Perhaps the people of Massachusetts may sometime give up their passion for “a government of laws” and learn that there is but one law — “to live honestly” — that men can rightfully be compelled to obey; that that law is not one that was made in Massachusetts; that any other than that one law is necessarily a bad law; and that, if they wish to secure to themselves the protection of that one law, their first step should be to get rid of all the blockheads, impostors, and tyrants, who claim that they ought to be invested with the irresponsible power of making and enforcing all the bad laws by which they think they can gain fame, power, or money.
“The Efficacy of Prayer” is the title of a pamphlet just published by J. P. Mendum of the Boston “Investigator,” in which John Storer Cobb, the author, analyzes with skilful hand the nature of Christian prayer, showing it to be a petition for all sorts of gifts and favors, small and great, possible and impossible, addressed to a being neither omnipotent nor omnipresent nor omniscient nor immutable nor merciful nor just nor truthful. The essay was originally read before the Boston Liberal Club, of which Mr. Cobb is president, and which holds interesting weekly meetings in Investigator Hall.
Now poor Tom Dunstan’s cold,
Our shop is duller;
Scarce a tale is told,
And our talk has lost the old
Though he was sickly and thin,
’Twas a sight to see his face,—
While sick of the country’s sin,
With bang of the fist, and chin
Thrust out, he argued the case!
He prophesied men should ho free!
And the money-bags be bled!
“She’s coming, she’s coming!” said he;
“Courage, boys! wait and see!
All day we sat in the heat,
Like spiders spinning,
Stitching full fine and fleet,
While Old Moses on his seat
Sat greasily grinning;
And here Tom said his say,
And prophesied Tyranny’s death;
And the tallow burnt all day,
And we stitch’d and stitch’d away
In the thick smoke of our breath.
Weary, weary were we,
Our hearts as heavy as lead;
But “Patience! she’s coming!” said he;
“Courage, boys! wait and see!
And at night, when we took here
The rest allowed to us,
The Paper came, with the beer,
And Tom read, sharp and clear,
The news out loud to us;
And then, in his witty way,
He threw the jests about:
The cutting things he’d say
Of the wealthy and the gay!
How he turn’d them inside out!
And it made our breath more free
To hearken to what he said —
“She’s coming! she’s coming!” said he;
“Courage, boys! wait and see!
But grim Jack Hart, with a sneer,
Would mutter, “Master!
If Freedom means to appear,
I think she might step here.
A little faster!”
Then, ’twas fine to see Tom flame,
And argue, and prove, and preach,
Till Jack was silent for shame,—
Or a fit of coughing came
O’sudden, to spoil Tom’s speech.
Ah! Tom had the eyes to see
When Tyranny should be sped:
“She’s coming! she’s coming!” said he;
“Courage, boys! wait and see!
But Tom was little and weak,
The hard hours shook him;
Hollower grew his check,
And when he began to speak
The coughing took him.
Ere long the cheery sound
Of his chat among as ceased,
And we made a purse, all round,
That he might not starve at least.
His pain was sorry to see,
Yet there, on his poor sick bed,
“She’s coming In spite of me!
Courage, and wait!” cried he;
A little before he died,
To see his passion!
“Bring me a Paper,” he cried,
And then to study it tried,
In his old sharp fashion;
And with eyeballs glittering,
His looks on me he bent,
And said that savage thing
Of the Lords o’ the Parliament.
Then, dying, smiling on me,
“What matter if one be dead?
She’s coming at last!” said he;
“Courage, boy! wait and see!
Ay, now Tom Dunstan’s cold,
The shop feels duller;
Scarce a tale is told,
And our talk has lost the old
But we see a figure gray,
And we hear a voice of death,
And the tallow burns all day,
And we stitch and stitch away
In the thick smoke of our breath;
Ay, while in the dark sit we,
Tom seems to call from the dead —
“She’s coming! she’s coming!” says he:
“Courage, boys! wait and see!
How long, O Lord! how long
Must thy Handmaid linger —
She who shall right the wrong,
Make the poor sufferer strong?
Sweet morrow, bring her!
Hasten her over the sea
O Lord! ere Hope be fled!
Bring her to men and to me! . . .
O Slave, pray still on thy knee,
Library of the Month: Ron Paul: “Truth is treason in the empire of lies.”
Libertarian Anarchy: Against the State: Political philosophy is dominated by a myth, the myth of the necessity of the state. The state is considered necessary for the provision of many things, but primarily for peace and security. In this provocative book, Gerard Casey argues that social order can be spontaneously generated, that such spontaneous order is the norm in human society and that deviations from the ordered norms can be dealt with without recourse to the coercive power of the state.
Major Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers: Murray Rothbard: Murray Rothbard (1926-1995) was an economist, historian, philosopher, and legal theoretician. His work was unified by a passionate and resolute commitment to a libertarianism that may be characterized as 'anarcho-capitalism' and which implied a belief that even the legal system may be provided privately without the need for a coercive collective authority. Hence, anarcho-capitalists envisage a society where the traditional role of government is wholly subsumed by private, profit-making enterprises and all social relationships are ultimately founded upon consent.
Benjamin Tucker: Liberty Whole Volume One, Issues 1-26: Liberty, Not the Daughter But the Mother of Order, was an individualist anarchist periodical edited and published by Benjamin Tucker from 1881 to 1908.
Benjamin Tucker's Liberty: Instead Of a Book, By Men Too Modest To Write One: Instead Of a Book, By Men Too Modest To Write One is a selection of articles from the first volume of Liberty edited by Lukas Nikodym and Tomas Nikodym with a foreword by Lawrence W. Reed.