“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.”
How widely sundered from the true and just
This Iron age that deities the strong! —
Like a sleek courtier flattering high-throned Wrong.
While unthroned Right is trampled in the dust!
Yet has it prophets whose sublimer trust
Foresees the Canaan, unto which the throng
Shall march from bondage with triumphant song,
While the Red Sea engulfs their foemen’s host.
Yet has it heroes meet our wondering sight,
Like shooting stars that Hash across the night,—
Undaunted souls, content to spend their breath
In one defiant and immortal cry,
That shakes the steadfast throne of tyranny,
And then, exulting, meet a martyr’s death.
W. Y. G.
“Theory and Practice” in Liberty of October 27, by E. H. S., is a good answer to those who can refute the theory of Anarchy in no other way than to cry “impracticable.”
I hold that a true theory is practicable. The theory of Anarchy is either true or false, and the only way we can know whether or not it be true is to test its practicability by actual experience.
The theory of government is not true, because it fails to accomplish what its advocates contend it will accomplish. The theory is that government is necessary to maintain order and liberty, and that with order and liberty justice between man and man is guaranteed.
I have no conflict with the ends sought by government, but my reading of history and observations of men under different conditions lead me to the belief that order and liberty, and consequently justice, come to man in the largest degree where there is the least government, where compulsion intrudes itself the least in human relations.
Compare Russia with the United States, and the difference is at once perceptible. There can be no question that the body of the people in the United States are better intellectually and materially than are those of Russia.
It is sometimes said that this is due to the difference in kind of government. My mental vision may be somewhat obscure, but I can see no difference in kind between monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, commonly understood, and ochlocracy. They all come off the same piece of cloth, and the difference is only in the make-up. The difference is really one of degree and not of kind.
The best laws, the safest laws, and in my opinion the only laws necessary for the guidance of human action are natural laws. Natural laws enforce themselves. They admonish the transgressor that the penalties for their violation are inevitable and do not depend upon the action of any human agency. If we lose our equilibrium, the law of gravitation takes us by the collar and bumps our head against the ground. If we isolate ourselves from human associations, we lose the advantages arising therefrom and suffer inconveniences and pain.
While I have not yet investigated the subject to my entire satisfaction, yet I am inclined to believe that any human action that does not produce pain is not a violation of natural laws, and that, conversely, all human actions that produce pleasure and happiness are in harmony with natural laws.
Artificial laws — man-made laws — must always have bayonets behind them for enforcement.
The best “law-makers” are those great thinkers and investigators who have discovered those natural agencies that produce so much happiness for man, if he but live in harmony with them.
Now, Anarchy aims simply to remove those man-made laws that contravene natural laws. It demonstrates the fact that liberty and order are unattainable under government, and that justice, therefore, is incompatible with government. Thousands of years of government surely should be experience enough to prove this and warrant us in accepting it as a fact. How long must we experiment with a thing that does not accomplish the desired result before we can rightfully conclude that it is a failure? Surely, the old adage that “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” does not mean that we should try forever.
To say that it is impracticable to remove those artificial laws that nullify the benefits of natural laws seems to me not in accord with good sense. To say that men cannot live in harmony with natural laws is to despair of human advancement.
It is unfortunate that there is not some document in existence that definitely proclaims the principles and methods of Anarchists. No outrage is committed in these latter days but what the hoodlums of the press and pulpit straightway lay it at the door of the Anarchist, and we have made but feeble efforts to counteract this pernicious habit and unjust accusation. It was for the purpose of giving definiteness to our movement that I proposed some months ago that a conference of Anarchists be held in this country. A conference of that character would attract universal attention. A declaration of principles and methods could be drawn up so as to meet the approval of the largest number, and, signed by those approving, it would rather take the wind out of those foolish and malicious creatures. Comrade A. A. Soreng, of Marvin P. O., Dakota, writes that he is in favor of such a conference; that it would bring about harmony between individualistic and communistic Anarchists; that we would get acquainted with each other and agree upon a united and energetic propaganda; issue to the world an Anarchistic manifesto; criticize and denounce the present “civilization” and “law and order.” “Such proceedings would,” he says, “give the associated press occasion to talk about Anarchy and direct the public mind towards our cause. Of course, it would be somewhat expensive, but, considering the advancement to our cause that would result, I think it ought to take place.”
Regarding “Cranky Notions” of November 10, Herman Kuehn, of Indianapolis, writes me as follows:
I have just read your “Cranky Notions” with no little pleasure, let me assure you, for your expressions reflect my own sentiments. The editorial comments are, to me, vague, because I have no recollection of Tucker’s former elucidations in that direction. Of course it requires no great stretch of analogy to formulate them for myself, but I fail to recognize their force. But what does he mean by this: “The obscurity with which it was necessary to envelop the very mild reformatory issue involved, and the dire failure to smuggle it into voters’ brains even thus, afford a better answer than any I could make.” It seems to me that, notwithstanding the failure to smuggle light through the brains of many voters, there were many others who were enlightened, and who, having cast off superstition of one kind, will not be satisfied until every idol in the joss house is ground to pieces.
You and I are not woodchoppers; yet, if we be on a journey and find a huge log fallen across our path, and find others ahead of us on the same road engaged with axes in demolishing the obstruction, we too should grasp our axes and help cut through the impediment. We would avail ourselves of the same expedient the other travellers employ, though our destination be different from theirs. For the time we are traveling the same road.
Every superstition and every restriction is a barrier against Liberty. Whosoever tears down one and unmasks the other is fighting Liberty’s fight. Shall we refuse the results because we do not approve the tools?
Mr. Yarros aims his pointed lance with more sarcasm than logic at Henry George and all his works. Yet it must be conceded that no man has done so much in the direction of human freedom as this same George, for he has aroused thought on right lines, and when an intelligent being is once animated with such aspirations as Henry George instils, he becomes an active factor against all unrightful bonds and bounds.
The birth of Pallas, full-fiedged, from the brain of Jove, is not an every-day miracle. I venture to say that Yarros did not come into the world with every faculty developed. He probably reached his present position by gradations.
Those of us who admire George are not necessarily enamored of his taxing plan as much as we approve of what goes before that,— his scheme for abolishing all other taxes. Having once started in that direction, there will be but few stops short of freedom. Mr. George has pointed out a way to lessen our burdens. I recognize the practicability of working by such gradations as he suggests,— ridding ourselves from one burden after another. If, then, the confiscation of rent be found a restriction of Liberty, nothing will be so easy as to get rid of that too. But when we are face to face with that contingency, we may find that he who pointed out the way that far was no less right as to the ultimate correctness of his theory. For it matters not how men may dwell in communities, whether under governmental or Anarchistic relations, there accrues an unearned increment to the holders of the most desirable sites, and as this fund is clearly the creation of the community, it should be made available for such expenses as, under any circumstances, the community should bear. But why quarrel about a remote destination when there is chopping to do for all hands now? The log is on the path. Let us work together on that. We can part company at the forks, some miles further down the road.
I am in accord with the idea of removing one burden after another through political agencies, but am not in accord with the idea of confiscating rent by the State as a means of equalizing opportunities and conditions, any more than I favor a protective tariff as a means of equalizing opportunities and conditions. I hold that conditions will equalize themselves better under freedom than under restriction in the matter of land occupancy as well as in the matter of trade. It seems to me that the fundamental error in Mr. George’s system is in assuming that the Ricardian theory of rent is so true and so important a factor in economics as to be a safe and sound basis upon which to build a social-economic system. That some lands will produce more wheat than others is true; that some will produce more rice than others is true; that some will produce more celery than others is true; and so on in the list of all food and other products. But this does not prove that one piece of land is more valuable than another piece of land. It only proves that one piece of land is more valuable than another for producing a specific kind of product. Texas is a better State in which to raise sheep than is Minnesota. Suppose it takes the same amount of labor in Minnesota to raise a hundred sheep that it takes to raise a thousand in Texas,— would it be a sound social-economic system that would tax Texas nine hundred sheep for the benefit of the “community”? On the other hand, Minnesota is a better wheat-growing State than Texas. Must we tax Minnesota’s wheat-growing land the difference for the benefit of the “community”? The protectionist taxes Cuban tobacco to equalize the conditions of the tobacco industry of America with that of Cuba. Because one man sets type and another raises corn, there is no sound reason why the labor of the one is more valuable than the labor of the other, any more than one piece of land is more valuable than another because wheat is raised on one and sheep on another. The reason why there is now an “unearned” increment is that men are deterred by statute from going on land not in use. Of course, in equity there is no such thing as an “unearned” increment. All things that contribute to human happiness are earned by labor, and if any one gets the results of labor without work, he either steals it or has it given him, and under an equitable social-economic system there need be neither thieves nor paupers. The Ricardian theory of rent, it seems to me, presupposes the truth of the Malthusian theory. If the Malthusian theory of population be false, as Mr. George contends, then the Ricardian theory of rent is false also, because under liberty and a free land system competition for “desirable” spots will not be keen enough to produce an “unearned” increment. The present system of land ownership is unnatural, unjust, inequitable, and produces results which could not exist under a free land system. John Kelly, in my opinion, is right in assuming that Mr. George is inconsistent in being a State rent confiscator and a free trader at the same time. But I do believe with Mr. Kuehn that Mr. George has done more to popularize the study of political economy than any other man who ever lived. Even his errors result in more discussion than the truths of a hundred others.
Joseph A. Labadie.
The Poor and the National Debt.
[N. G. Tchernychewsky.]
Mill says that the wealthy and rich are not the only ones who have received the accumulated treasure of past ages; that they have merely inherited special material advantages in addition to those intellectual and moral legacies which are common to all members of society. But if technical improvements and theoretical knowledge, useful institutions and refined habits, are to be considered as an inheritance, we should also consider the prejudices, the imperfections, the objectionable habits, in short, the negative facts left to the present generation by its predecessors. So the non-material advantages are balanced by like disadvantages; and only those who have received the material inheritance are to be held responsible for the material indebtedness of the past.
Love, Marriage, and Divorce,
And the Sovereignty of the Individual.
Henry James, Horace Greeley, and Stephen Pearl Andrews.
Letter from Mr. James to Mr. Andrews.
S. P. Andrews, Esq.:
Dear Sir,– My letter of December, 1872, was not designed for publication, as is obvious upon the face of it, and I regret that my friend Mr. R. should have been so inconsiderate as to print it without consulting me. Has it been intended for publication, I should have modified its phraseology in more than one respect. It was written in the confidence of friendship, and betrays a latitude of expression permissible only to such confidence. My sole conscious purpose in writing it was to characterize two rival doctrines, and I should have abhorred to reflect injuriously upon the supporters of either doctrine, least of all the unfashionable one. For while multitudes of equally sincere people may be found doubtless arrayed on either side of this controversy, there can be just as little doubt that sincerity in your direction costs a good deal of thoughtless opprobrium, while in mine it wins a good deal of equally thoughtless popular applause; and sincerity that forfeits one’s personal consideration will always argue a higher manhood than sincerity that attracts it. It is more than a duty, it is a pleasure, to admit all this; but I repeat that my difference with you is primarily intellectual and only derivatively personal.
Your doctrine – if I understand it – is twofold, namely: First, that men are de jure exempt from outward liability, which is liability to other men, for the indulgence of their appetites and passions; Second, that they are de facto exempt from all inward liability for such indulgence, or liability to their own distinctive nature as men. In other words, you hold that I am not only under no conventional obligation to control my passions, no obligation imposed by outward law, but also under no natural obligation to that effect, no obligation imposed by my essential human quality. To say all in a word: You hold man to be his own law in respect to his passions, as well as in respect to his actions: provided of course that he doesn’t wound his own ideal, or violate good taste.
(1) Thus your doctrine has both a negative or implicit force, as addressed to the making marriage free by progressively enlarging the grounds of divorce; and (2) a positive or explicit force, as addressed to the making love free by denying its essential subordination to marriage.
Now, I wholly agree with your doctrine on its negative merits, or in so far as it teaches man’s rightful insubjection to other men (1); and I wholly disagree with it on its positive merits, or in so far as it teaches his actual superiority to his own nature (2).
(1) First as to the point in which we are agreed. I am not responsible to my fellow-man for the exercise of my appetites and passions, because on my passive side, the side of appetite and passion, I am not free, but in palpable bondage to my constitutional necessities, to my finite organization, or my mineral, vegetable, and animal subsistence. And responsibility is the attribute, not of a bondman, but of a freeman. I remain doubtless for a long while unconscious of my bondage, because in the infancy of my career I have at most only a traditional and not an experimental knowledge of my true spirituality of nature, and hence am sure to identify myself with my organization, or look upon its proper life as my own. But my intellectual day does eventually break, and I then perceive with mingled awe and disgust that what I had hitherto reckoned to be freedom and life was all the while a cunningly disguised slavery and death. The truth is so, however, whether I perceive it or not. I am outwardly free only to act, not to suffer or to be acted upon; so far accordingly as I am a subject of this latter or passive freedom, this freedom to suffer or to be acted upon, my life is not outwardly but altogether inwardly constituted or energized, and disdains any outward responsibility. Thus I may experience love to any extent my temperament enjoins or allows; but so long as I commit no overt act of hostility to marriage, no one has a particle of right to complain of me. To the entire compass of my passionate life or organization I am the subject, not of any outward or moral law, but of an inward or spiritual law exclusively, a law which is one with my race or nature, and determines all the issues of my destiny; and however properly therefore it may upon occasion subject me to my own unfavorable judgment, it at all events renders me superior to the judgments of other people.
And this brings me to our point of disagreement.
(2) I am outwardly free to act, for my physical organization and environment render me so; and, being free, I am properly responsible to others for the use I make of my freedom in their direction. They accordingly insist that I exercise my freedom of action within the limits of a discreet regard to their persons and property, under pain of forfeiting their good will, or incurring their acute resentment. Thus my freedom of action is essentially limitary, not absolute. It is limited by my sense of justice, commonly called conscience, or the sentiment of duty I feel toward my fellow-men. The limitation is often practically inconvenient, is often indeed very painful, but it can be persistently resisted only at the cost of my spiritual manhood, only at the cost of my personal degradation below the level not merely of human but of brute nature, and my assimilation to devils.
Evidently, then, my personal freedom – my freedom of action – is not in itself a thing to be proud of. It is at best a purely finite – that is to say, moral or voluntary – freedom, consisting in my ability to obey or disobey an outward law, and realize, if I please, a certain mid-career, a certain earthly success, in conciliating the warring extremes of heaven and hell, or duty and inclination; and its ideal consequently in human character is prudence or worldly wisdom. Now, how do you account for this inveterate finiteness of the human personality? Why should my personal freedom, my conscious selfhood, confess this essentially limitary quality? The fact seems to me wholly unaccountable but in one way, and that is on the principle that my personal life or consciousness is essentially subservient to a higher because spiritual or divine life in my nature identical with what we call society among men; and is contingent therefore for its character upon the measure of practical obedience or disobedience I pay to the social spirit. I call this higher life God’s life in my nature, as opposed to the life I feel in myself and call mine, because I manage to realize the one only in so far as I mortify the other. That is to say, I give up my outward life or freedom, which is my freedom to act from myself as a centre, or to consult only what makes for my worldly welfare, and I find as I do so an inward life – a spiritual freedom – making itself over to me. which is unspeakably satisfying, which is in fact so unlike everything I have hitherto called my life that I cannot help pronouncing it literally divine and infinite. I dare not call this life mine of course any more than yours, since it is a life in our nature exclusively, and not in ourselves; and yet it is so intimately near and precious to me as to make my own proper life (and yours) seem utterly worthless and odious in comparison.
Now what is the warp upon which this life of God in our nature – that is, in you, and me, and all men quite equally – is woven? I do not hesitate to say: the warp of suffering. Not voluntary suffering, or suffering for suffering’s sake, of course, which is mere hypocritical or dramatic suffering, – the base counterfeit coin of the flesh which the Roman Catholic or other pietist pays to his idol in lieu of the pure gold of the spirit, when he would inspire it with a favorable conceit of his own merit, – but rational or helpless suffering, originating in what used to be called a conscience of sin, meaning thereby a hearty contempt of one’s self, and inflamed by the endless labor it costs to get away from that self, or live down the monstrous superstition of a possible personal worth or private righteousness in us.
Of course every one must here bear witness for himself alone. We are now dealing with the realm of our inward being – of our true freedom or individuality – where we dwell in direct contact with the highest, and disallow all mediation. But I do not hesitate to affirm for myself that I experimentally know no freedom but that which is here indicated as pure human, being a freedom of illimitable inward disgust with my own and, if need be, every man’s personal pretensions. I relish my moral or outward freedom, my freedom of finite action, as much as any man. I relish it so very much indeed that I doubt not it would soon run my head into a noose, if it were not perpetually belied by this more living or spiritual freedom within. The two things cannot co-exist in the same bosom but as substance and shadow, life and death. The one sensibly finites me, the other expands my consciousness to infinitude. The more I prize my moral freedom, or freedom of outward action, and identify myself with it, the more my life is finited or concentrated upon my petty person. The more I prize my spiritual freedom, or freedom of inward reaction, and practically identify myself with it, the more my life is infinited or socialized, until at last it becomes so transfigured into universal dimensions as to make me feel myself almost sensibly blent with the life of my race or nature, which is God.
Understand me. The distinctive badge of our nature hitherto has been passion, not action, suffering, not enjoyment, in order to base a truly human consciousness in us, or separate us from the animal. Rather let me say it has been action inspired by suffering, since our natural infinitude or divinity has been almost wholly swamped in our mineral, vegetable, and animal beginnings, and has only come to consciousness in the person of one man in history, who yet realized in such amplitude its power to sanctify all men that he could say to a petty thief who shared his cross: This day shalt thou be with me in paradise. In short, passionate and not rational action has been the inevitable law of human life, the indispensable condition of its eventual extrication from the mud and slime of its finite maternity. Thus no man has been great in history, with a truly human greatness, who has not won his way to it through suffering; that is, by painfully subjugating the rampant hell of his merely personal ambition and aspiration to a tranquil inward heaven of just and equal relations with his fellow-man. And to be blind to this great fact is to be blind in my opinion to the total divine worth and significance of human nature.
Now it is precisely here as it seems to me that your doctrine avouches its signal incompetency as a law of human life. The doctrine stamps itself indeed fundamentally vicious, in that it utterly ignores this profound subserviency which what is personal or particular in us has always been under to what is human or universal; and so practically subverts our natural dignity, or declares it undivine. You conceive – such at least is the logic of your position – that our appetites and passions are a direct divine boon to us, intended to enhance our personal enjoyment and power, and to that extent relieve our existing prison-house of its gloom. I deny this with all my heart. I am persuaded that they are given to us in no positive interest whatever, as they are given for example to the animal to constitute his feeble all, but in a distinctly negative interest, or with a view to disgust us with our prison-house, or finite heritage, and stimulate us to demand a new birth more consonant with our spiritual or race traditions. Thus I can’t for the life of me figure to myself what free love means, unless it be one of two things: either, 1. A freedom to love promiscuously, which is a mere speculative freedom equivalent to list, and therefore disowned by the universal human heart; or else 2. A freedom to desecrate love, or reduce it to animal proportions, by divesting it of an exclusively marriage-hallowing. But no man, least of all a man of your great sense and decency, will contend for the former alternative; so that the latter alone needs to be considered.
To be continued.
The Rag-Picker of Paris.
By Felix Pyat.
Translated from the French by Benj. B. Tucker.
Continued from No. 138.
Trompette, Louisa, Pauline, and the others came forward also with their exclamations.
“Ah! sly boots, we’ve caught you!”
“Then you have decided at last?”
“Good! you are coming with us?”
Marie, in confusion, tried to explain and escape from these too noisy friends or rather comrades.
“No,” she exclaimed, “I was trying on this dress which I have finished.”
But Mazagran would not listen to this.
“You have it on, keep it on!”
And the others approved.
“Yes, just once.”
“It fits you so well!”
“Like a glove.”
“A little high,” observed Mazagran, who had her reasons for liking low-necked dresses.
“Never mind, come just the same,” said Louisa.
Marie still refused.
“But it is not mine, as you can plainly see.”
Mazagran, demoralized since she had changed Frinlair for Camille, replied:
“Bah I my dear, you have made enough of them for others. You may well wear one yourself. You will make a lady much better than the lady could make a dress. Come.”
“The captain is right,” approved Trompette.
“Yes, yes,” cried the madcaps all together.
“Besides,” continued Mazagran, with her democratic philosophy, “it is in the interest of the dress; its faults can be seen better by trying it.”
And all applauded.
Mazagran enjoyed her popularity for a moment, and then decided in a tone that admitted no reply:
“It is unanimous! Everything is allowable in time of Carnival. Lent is long enough. . . let us go to the Opera.”
“To the Opera!” exclaimed Marie, with a mixture of curiosity, fear, and envy, as if a vision of pleasures and festivities had suddenly flashed across her mind.
“To the Opera!” repeated Mazagran, scanning the three magic syllables and exaggerating the effect produced.
“After the ball, a supper,” she added, detailing and multiplying the charm. “And at the Gilded House (Maison-Dorée) with the gilded youth. . . Twenty dollars a plate without wine.”
“And all the early fruits,” said the glutton, Trompette.
Each smacked her lips in advance over her favorite delicacy.
“We shall eat strawberries.”
“And Russian caviare!” finished Mazagran, “and English plum pudding, and all sorts of things; an international supper with a universal bill of fare; something for all tastes, rendering a choice embarrassing, among men as well as dishes. . . To the Opera!”
And the mad girls surrounded Marie, shaken, fascinated, won, almost all of them dancing, shouting, and singing:
“To the Opera! To the Opera!”
“Ah! the Opera must be very delightful,” murmured Marie, “but I dare not.” “Nonsense, Miss Virtuous!” cried Mazagran, contemptuously. “What is there to hinder you? Poor nun, you are dying of ennui; we want to amuse you. You cannot toil forever. One must laugh occasionally. How you will enjoy yourself! The triumph and death of the great Chicard. A hundred musicians, a thousand dancers, galop, gala, green-room, refreshment room, and sherbets,— and supper to conclude. Champagne continually, truffles everywhere, and everything iced. . . except love. Come, once is not a habit, dear Cinderella. We will take you. Don’t be afraid, we will bring you back, and in your dress, I promise you.”
“All right as far as the dress is concerned,” said Marie, overcome, “but”. . . “No buts,” retorted Mazagran. “Engaged, drafted.”
And she began to sing:
Allons enfanta de la Courtille,
Le jour de boire est arrivé!
“Enrolled!” concluded Trompette.
“Enrolled!” repeated the chorus.
“But I have nothing to wear on my head,” ventured Marie, resisting as a matter of form.
“Ah! yes,” exclaimed Mazagran, who deemed the objection a serious one. “And a woman with nothing on her head is a soldier without arms. But with this remnant of lace we will make you an undress-cap. A careless dress for the head is now the thing. Let us to work at once and with big stitches.”
“To work!” again exclaimed the chorus of obstinate inveiglers.
And Mazagran began.
“You shall see how quickly we will fix you out.”
“What ardor!” exclaimed Marie, smiling in spite of herself. “There is nothing like working for pleasure.”
“Sound, trumpets!” (trompettes) exclaimed Mazagran, turning to her comrade and laughing at her pun.
Trompette, without further urging, began in a falsetto voice the popular Carnival song, La rifla, fla, fla!
Vive l’Opéra, vive l’Opéra!
And all joined in the chorus:
Vive l’Opéra, vive l’Opéra!
*Le bonheur eat la!
Trompette sang the verse:
Et son and Chicard
Commencent sans retard
A minuit moins un quart.
Vive l’Opéra, etc.*
Pauline, in turn, sang her verse:
Hussards est tourlourous,
Que Musard dise á tous
Je suis content de vous.
Vive l’Opéra, etc.
And Mazagran, while at work on Marie’s cap, finished the song:
Au bal de l’Opéra,
Lejour du Mardi-Gras,
Le dernier dea soldats
Meurt et ne se rend pas.
Vive l’Opéra, vive l’Opéra!
La rifla, fla, fla!
Vive l’Opéra, vive l’Opéra!
Le bonheur est lá!
“D-o-n-e, done,” she cried. “There’s a cap for you! What chic! Isn’t she beautiful?”
“The most beautiful of all,” said Trompette, who always echoed the opinion of her companion in pleasures.
“Beautiful to exhibit,” continued Mazagran, “to beat all women and to set beating all men’s hearts. We give her whips with which to lash us. So much the worse; the voice of conscience bids us show her, and it would be a sin to leave her here”. . .
Marie made a last show of resistance; perhaps the memory of her mother or the fear of paining Jean, who had been left to guard and protect her, still held her back.
“Ah! what am I about to do? You infatuate me.”.
But Mazagran, her leader, would not listen, and, placing her at the head of the others, gave her orders to her troop of merry-makers.
“Fall in! Attention! Quick tune! Forward — march!”
And, willy-nilly, Marie, made prisoner by her comrades, suffered herself to be pushed outside, while the mad band again took up the chorus triumphantly:
Vive l’Opéra, vive l’Opéra!
Scarcely were they at the foot of the stairs, when Jean, alone in his loft, situated over Marie’s room, was awakened by the tumult and lighted his lantern.
“Oh! oh!” he exclaimed, “the neighborhood is in high glee tonight. What a racket! Come, rag-pickers, lovers, and all other night-birds, our year is composed of three hundred and sixty-five nights. Night is our day,— a day of joy for some, and of pain for others.”
He picked up his basket, and, looking at it, continued:
“To work, old girl; let us leave pleasure to the young. The devil! she is a little worn like myself; I shall need another soon. A long time she has served me. . . Yes, since the day when I promised that poor Didier to watch over his daughter. Just twenty years today, great Saint Mardi-Gras!”
And flinging his basket over his back, he said:
“There’s my domino, made of wicker cashmere. Let us go to work.”
On his way down he stopped to listen at Marie’s door.
“Dear little neighbor,” said he, tenderly, “she is doubtless asleep, for her day ends when mine begins. Softly, that I may not disturb her rest. Good night, Mam’zelle Marie, good night!”
And he descended in his turn.
While Marie thus allowed herself to go with Mazagran and company, a scene no less in keeping with the Carnival was being enacted in the editorial room of Lou-chard’s journal, where were gathered Camille and his usual acquaintances,— Gripon, the broker, Loiseau, the notary, and the future ambassador, Frinlair, who had iplomatically joined Camille in the movement of February.
“Our young ladies do not come,” said the journalist, looking at the clock and yawning. “Suppose we put on our costumes while we wait.”
“Here?” exclaimed the notary, somewhat amazed.
“Bah! an editorial room is a very proper place for turning one’s coat and putting on a mask.”
And he sent the office boy to get four costumes, Camille refusing to disguise himself. Costumes of the time, and befitting, moreover, the four persons,— a Robert Macaire, a Harlequin, a Clown, and a Merry Andrew.
Baron Hoffmann’s ward looked for a moment at his friends thus dressed, and said, jokingly:
“But you are not so much disguised;” then he added, still laughing: “Stay, I am going to disguise myself too. I want to appear as a journalist. . . and make a fortune doubtless, like you, Louchard. Besides, it is a way of avoiding marriage, for you get rich with your pen, to say nothing of your coal mine.”
“Journalist! my poor friend,” exclaimed Louchard in astonishment. “Then you think the term synonymous with banker. One has to be strong, you see”. . . “Nowhere in the world does it come amiss to be a Hercules.”
“Agreed; but tell us how you, an idealist, would ply the trade.”
“Look you, masquerade and falsehood prevail everywhere in the journalistic world; everything is false in the newspaper, even to its date; one cannot even be sure of the day of the month from it. If I were a journalist, I should aim at just the contrary; I should try to unite science and conscience, substance and form, art and right; if I had a sheet, truth should take precedence of interest in it, and justice of”. . .
“Poor fellow I you would not make your expenses. You would print five hundred copies.”
“So be it, but you, my dear Louchard,— between us be it said,— you may print five thousand, but make no imprint on the world.”
“That’s ill-natured, but never mind. In return for your witticism, I will give you a word of true truth, as Figaro says. I am going to unveil for you my machinery, my secret as a manager of newspapers.”
“I am listening.”
“What is a journal? A bit of printed paper to be sold to the public or to the government. The money of the public is as good as the secret funds. Both should be cultivated. The more sheets one has, the more one lives. Thus under royalty I had concurrently the ‘Friend of the King’ and the ‘Friend of the Charter’; now, under the Republic, I manage the Social Democracy’ and the ‘Appeal to the People.’”
“Then you have two consciences?”
“I have two pockets.”
“Every evening my editors ask me: ‘Whom are we to cut to pieces or deify tomorrow?’ And I name the victim or the idol. But all that is nothing, a few thousands, a mere bagatelle, good enough for my old venal teacher, Charles Maurice. But I, Louchard, his pupil, am going to establish a journal which will be the greatest success of the century. We shall reach a million, both in circulation and receipts.”
“Oh! oh!” exclaimed Frinlair, “then you will have for buyers all the fools in France and Algeria.”
“You have said it,” said Louchard with pride. “We shall become of public utility. All the door-tenders, fruit-sellers, and gossips, to say nothing of the clerks and people of leisure, will read and reread the ‘Penny Journal.’”
“And suppose some one steals your title and plan,” risked Gripon.
“No danger. I appear tomorrow, and I will tell you my programme. Little or no politics; ideas I have renounced; words, words, to content everybody and his father I A journal can be universal only on condition of being like everybody, without opinions. News, ever, always, and at any rate, true or False. Quid novi! said the loungers of Rome. ‘What’s new?’ say those of Paris. A journalist is a dealer in news! My news items, astonishing in interest and timeliness; when no dogs get crushed, I will order some crushed; my court reports perfect,— every case a celebrated case. The watchword will be: Sensation carried to the farthest extent. Occasionally an Epinal picture; the children like that. And my serial stories, for the fair sex! It will be the height of art. . . and of adultery. The ground-floor of the journal will sustain the entire edifice to the skies; never literature, that does not take; pure love and sentiment utterly disregarded; passion carried to the point of lunacy; tears in showers, avalanches of events and incidents, a crime to every line, rape, murder, robbery, fire, and everything trembling; each instalment ending in this fashion: ‘With one hand the husband grasped his dagger, with the other he seized his wife, and with the other pointed to her lover on his knees.’ (To be continued in our next.) That is how I intend to make (faire) my journal and take in (refaire) the public!”
A general outburst of laughter welcomed this declaration of principles by the great journalist.
“If the public could hear you,” exclaimed Camille.
“Bah! if we knew how our food is cooked, we should never eat; but the professional secret lies there, you see I And besides, the subscriber is so stupid. Though he should hear us, he would keep his deep-seated faith and still give us his penny. Every morning he can see that we ‘puff’ on the fourth page all that we attack on the first.
“In principle, we are against Gripon, Hoffmann, and the rest; in practice, we receive their money and extol their doubtful enterprises.
“In our leading article we say: ‘Financiers are the plague of the time. Here is another who has just disappeared, ruining a thousand families,’ etc., etc. And in the advertisements we certify ‘that the stock of the Company for the Manufacture of Rubber Locomotives calculated to run all alone on gutta-percha rails is the best investment for capital and savings.’
“Why, I who speak to you wrote an article yesterday against the Auvergne Gold Mining Company, which has not advertised in my journals, and today I advertise my Sologne Coal Mining Company, which is no better. Really, if we were to take our trade seriously, it would be neither amusing nor lucrative. . . and the journal must be both.”
“Decidedly, your journalism is too smart for me,” said Camille. “It is still more complicated than the bank.”
“Not at all,” said Louchard, “and here is the simple maxim of the trade: “Good faith is the soul of journalism, as credit is the soul of commerce.’ And upon the strength of that, my friends, let us go to the masquerade. Our ladies must be at the Opera already, since they are not vet here.”
And the disguised party descended the stairs of the newspaper establishment and got into Louchard’s splendid turn-out, which took them to the Opera ball.
Catholic peoples have remained more Pagan than Protestant peoples, who, having no Lent, have no Carnival. We Roman Catholics logically keep Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.
In ’48 the muse of the French dance, called cancan, had for an Apollo a frightful fellow pitted like a chestnut pan, as black as a burnt chestnut, and as little as Napoleon the Great, whose name he bore,— Napoleon Musard,— and surname,— Musard the Great.
Absurd fashion had thus christened this emperor of the public ball-room; and the Terpsichore of the Haute-Courtille, the great Opera, leaped only to the riga-doons of this minstrel.
Everything was great, even to the disasters, alas! in our Christian France, after the Concordat of Napoleon I; and, in imitation of the great emperor, regis ad exemplar we had the great minstrel, as well as the great tailor, and finally the great chahuteur also.
The soul of the orthodox Carnival, the triple God of the tolerated, authorized, and even subsidized bacchanalia, who resembled at the same time Bacchus, Silenus, and Momus, laughing like Momus, drinking like Silenus, and dancing like Bacchus, a personage no less great than Musard himself and rhyming with him moreover, was a dealer in hides, named Chicard, from which name we get the word chic, unless chic was the origin of Chicard. Which is a question.
This Chicard was the favorite of saturnalian Paris, the lord and master of the masquerade, the tyrant of the Opera. His costume has remained legendary,— flesh-colored tights with a fireman’s helmet and a sapper’s glove! No less artists than Gavarni and Daumier have consecrated his glory with their pencils.
This dealer in hides — for our clever Paris is so made that it worships folly — governed and charmed his generation, passing almost to posterity, to immortality, and, thanks to the hopeless stupidity of the idle, becoming a candidate for the Pantheon.
For the evening with which we are now concerned, Musard, to draw the crowd and swell the receipts, had promised Chicard to his patrons; and as the great attraction he had devised a sort of bacchic ballet, thus announced on all the walls of Paris:
At the Opera.
Triumph and Death of Chicard.
So, at midnight, there was a line of people at the doors of the Opera, then situated in the Rue Lepelletier, where Orsini’s bombs were thrown.
The hall was soon full; the lobby and even the stairs were overflowing with masks and dominos. Musard turned people away, thanks to Chicard, who shared the receipts.
It was a success, even before the opening of the ticket-offices, on the strength of the simple placarded announcement.
Beside those with whom these gross pleasures were habitual, there was an idiotic mass of curious persons, attracted by the reputation of the God of the festival. All political, financial, artistic, and literary Paris, and the canaille gilded or wretched, had agreed to meet at this ball announced as the very transfiguration of the great Chicard.
For fine adventures and witty sayings look elsewhere. The meetings and conversations were what they usually are in such a place, stupid or treacherous, egoistic and wanton, sometimes comical, seldom witty, the Jewish spirit of the stock exchange dominating every other. Mercury, on the French Olympus, beating Bacchus, Comus, and Momus, all the revived deities of the Greeks and Romans. In short, the servile customs and bestial recreations which surely lead to the invasion of a people.
The hall was lighted à giorno. The floor, raised to a level with the stage, doubled its size; the orchestra was moved to the back of the theatre, and in front a throne under a canopy was raised above a table laid in Pantagruelian fashion with Gargantuan dishes for one person.
Dishes as large as kettles, plates as big as platters, knives as long as swords, and forks as strong as tridents.
Discordant music and dancing in keeping therewith were at their height, when a stroke of the tamtam resounded like a cannon-shot.
Then an heroi-comic march worthy of the hero, to the sound of cowboys’ horns playing the famous air of La rifla fla fla, and to the cries of “Long live Chicard!” was heard, and the procession entered, entirely suspending the ball.
This procession represented the complete evolution of ancient and modern bacchanalia, in an unconscious picture of the transformation of the species, a natural history of human stupidity, the picturesque zoology of the fashionable biped.
Women of every reign, age, and class, mythological, fantastic, and historical, nymphs, naiads, water-sprites, nereids and mermaids with sea-scales, sphynxes with lionesses’ heads and hinds, panthers and cocottes, bacchantes and shepherdesses, bacchanals and virgins, columbines and young nuns, lorettes and vivandieres, draging Chicard with garlands and ribbons, who wore his traditional helmet on his ead and his legendary glove on his hand, and sat in a triumphal car escorted by all the fabulous characters of old and young mythology.
Bacchus at the head on his leopard, Silenus on his ass, Pan on his goat, satyrs, fauns, and sylvans, with their thyrses, and tritons with their shells, preceding the extravagant fancies of Gavarni, Daumier, Granville, and Cham, lumpers, titis troubadours, romantic knights, light opera Tyroleans, Nanterre firemen, Lonjumeau postilions, Turks de la Courtille, old-fashioned marquises and shepherds, powdered chamberlains, Directory swells, clowms and merry-andrews, Harlequins and Macaires, peers of France in spectacles, academicians in wigs, kings with old umbrellas over their pear heads, queens in old-fashioned carriages, emperors with false noses, popes on crutches, porte cotons, scullions, cooks, vidangeurs, all the grotesque figures of the past added to the caricatures and parodies of the present.
Chicard mounted and sat on the throne above the table; chamberlains, carrying the key at the lower part of their backs, decorated him with kitchen utensils; pork-butchers crowned him with blood-pudding; a knight of the Holy Ghost consecrated him with oil and vinegar, proclaiming him, to the sound of horns, Chicard I, king of the land flowing with milk and honey, emperor of the Carnival, and pope of Mardi-Gras, amid cries, a thousand times repeated, of “Long live Chicard and his august family!”
Then cooks served him a monster pancake in a gigantic pan; butlers a bottle of champagne as big as a cask, with a glass as large as a pail, and a cigar of monumental length; pantlers a colossal loaf, and carvers a turkey stuffed with truffles and as big as a fat ox.
During this Rabelaisian repast a general gallop filed past His Majesty, composed of couples authentic and fantastic, loves famous in all poesies and all centuries, showing human evolution, savage, barbarous, and civilized, beginning with the gods, ab Jove, Jupiter and Juno, Venus and Mars, Hercules and Oinphale, Cupid and Psyche, Pyramus and Thisbe, Hero and Leander, Daphnis and Chloe, Diogenes and Lais, Horace and Lydia, Don Quixote and Dulcinea, Heloise and Abelard, Laura and Petrarch, Beatrice and Dante, Charles VII and Agnes, Ferronniere and Francis I, Gabrielle and Henri IV, Louis XIV and Lavalliere, Louis XV and Dubarry, Barras and Mme. Angot, not to leave out Adam and Eve, dressed in modern clothing, disguised in burlesque fashion, women appearing as men and men as women.
A gallop of death, passing in chronological order, first the prehistoric world, then the Graeco-Roman, Middle Ages, and Renaissance, royal, imperial, and republican, all shadows saluting their Caesar in order to die before him.
After the last salutation of the last couple, Chicard, having drank his last glass of champagne, felt sick.
Then Molicre’s notary, Loyal, appeared with a will which he presented for his signature.
Chicard became perceptibly pale and white. Toinette advanced and placed a nightcap on his head. The physicians of Argan arrived, surrounded him, felt his pulse, looked at his tongue, gave their opinions, and, upon a signal from Doctor Purgon, the Diafoiruses of Pourceaugnac ran up with syringes as big as telescopes.
Chicard, frightened, leaped down from his throne and ran away, pursued by the dancers.
The pursuit was conducted to the sound of the horns, which played a lugubrious parody of the La rifla.
At last Chicard, who had almost escaped into the wings, was stopped short by a colossal rag-picker rising from the prompter’s box before him, with hair and beard cut according to the prevailing fashion, a hook as big as a scythe and a basket the size of a coffin, in face of Lent, covered with ashes and followed by undertakers.
“Halt!” he cried. “I am Ash Wednesday, the rag-picker of Mardi-Gras. . . into the basket!”
And the rag-picker of Paris took Chicard and tossed him into the basket, the tamtam sounding the knell of Sedan for this society as decrepit as its representative, Chicard.
In the corner of the “lions’” box, called the “infernal box,” where her companions had left her, Marie, alone, wearing the wolf-mask which Mazagran had lent her, stood dazzled, stunned, bewildered at all that she had seen and heard.
She said to herself that surely her mother would not have permitted this pleasure party, and that Father Jean would not like it.
Her conscience was not easy. She felt, if not remorse, at least regret; she realized that her conduct was not commendable.
“Well, Marie, isn’t it beautiful? What do you think of it?” cried Mazagran, coming back to the box and slapping her on the shoulder.
“I am afraid,” answered Marie; “and if you wish to oblige me, you will lend me a dollar to take a carriage and go home.”
“Go home! What for? Not at all. And the supper! We will take you home afterwards. That’s an idea,— to come to the Opera without a supper! Impossible, my dear! Our gentlemen have gone to order it, and, when wine is drawn, it must be drank.”
And as the others also returned to the box, she cried out:
“Say, tell the lambs; this ewe, Marie, is afraid, and the shepherds are no longer here to reassure her. All have gone to the Maison d’Or ahead of us? Let us follow them. We must not make them wait, especially as they would not wait. . . . I know them. Quick time, forward, march!”
And they dragged off Marie Didier, in spite of herself, human after all, unable to resist their high spirits or go back to her garret, and consenting to follow them to supper. A daughter of Eve, she succumbed to temptation.
The attractive programme so well set forth by Mazagran was realized.
From the Opera they had gone to the Maison-Dorée, men and women in separate groups, lest the latter might compromise the former. Prudence and respectability covering up license and corruption. To save appearances is to act like a good bourgeois.
To be continued.
“In abolishing rent and interest, the last vestiges of old-time slavery, the Revolution abolishes at one stroke the sword of the executioner, the seal of the magistrate, the club of the policeman, the gunge of the exciseman, the erasing-knife of the department clerk, all those insignia of Politics, which young Liberty grinds beneath her heel.” — Proudhon.
The appearance in the editorial column of articles over other signatures than the editor’s initial indicates that the editor approves their central purpose and general tenor, though he does not hold himself responsible for every phrase or word. But the appearance in other parts of the paper of articles by the same or other writers by no means indicates that he disapproves them in any respect, such disposition of them being governed largely by motives of convenience.
Liberty and Land.
To the Editor of Liberty:
Encouraged by the prompt and considerate attention given to my letter (in your issue of October 27), I beg leave to continue the discussion, especially since some of your arguments are not at all clear to me.
You say that my definition of the right of possession of land rests on an assumption “that there is an entity known as the community which is the rightful owner of all land.”
I do not understand what you mean by “rightful ownership.” Ownership outside of a combination of individuals is to me as inconceivable as “distance” would be were there but one grain of matter in the universe. And regarding the community formed by a compact entered into or sanctioned by a dynamic majority of individuals as an entity, I can conceive only the physical relation of “possession” and that of “ability to maintain it”; but “ownership” I can recognize only as the result of this ability of the community, applied for the benefit of individuals. Hence I deny that my definition is based upon the premise, stated by you, unless you have a conception of the term “ownership” unknown to me. (1) If I had “the strength to back it up,” all land would be mine, and egoism would prompt me to dominate over mankind as naturally as mankind now dominates over the animal kingdom. (2) But since my egoism is not coupled with such a power, submission to the stronger is a necessity which may be good or evil. “Community” I only mention in recognition of its supreme power. It can have and need have no title to the land while there is no other power capable of successfully disputing its possession, a title being nothing else than an effective promise of those who wield the supreme power. Nor can I agree that the right of the strongest will lead to serious results, except when applied to create an inequitable relation between individuals, and for the same reason that I advocate the distribution of rent as conducive to the establishment of an equilibrium, I do object to the collection of any other tribute. (3) Suppose I were to discover a gold mine that would enable me to command by one hour’s work one year’s labor of other men: a refusal to pool the rent with others with the expectation to be let alone in the exclusive enjoyment of this mine would imply that I consider all others to be devoid of even a trace of egoism, which my experience forbids. (4) There is one vital difference between the advantage which a man possesses by reason of superior skill and that due to the possession of valuable local opportunities; the one is inseparably attached to the individual, the other can be transferred by a mere transfer of the possession of the territory. The former will therefore always remain the individual’s, the disposition of the latter will invariably be controlled by the strongest. (5)
If you can convince the majority that occupation is the proper title for the ownership of land, your measure will be adopted. But local opportunities being of different values and the most valuable limited, those who are less liberally provided by the existing social conditions will cover the superior advantages possessed by others. This dissatisfaction, this germ of social disturbances and revolutions will grow as the existing valuable opportunities are more and more appropriated and those who must do without them increase in numbers. Under such conditions it will be easy to convince the masses that by giving the local opportunities to the highest bidder and equitably distributing the rent all will feel that they have an equal share in the blessings of social peace and all egoism in that direction is as fully satisfied as any intelligent man can expect. (6)
As to the question of how to accomplish the end, and what to do first, I agree with you when you wish the first blow directed against the monopolization of the medium of exchange; I only hold that, if the social stale following would not imply a nationalization of the rent, the measure would be incomplete. (7)
From all appearances the difference between us is this: You consider that the rule of the superior will invariably lead to serious results, and in this respect you place yourself in opposition to what must naturally result from an association of egoists, i. e., the rule of the superior, while I hold that superior ability will always rule, and that this rule will be beneficial if administered so that no individual has any reasonable cause for complaint, which implies that all have an equal share in the transferable opportunities. I admit that what I consider a reasonable cause may not be so considered by others; the decision must be left to the intelligence of the people, as there is no other tribunal. (8)
(1) It was only because I conceived it out of the question that Egoist, in maintaining that “the value of protection in the possession of land is equal to its economic rent,” could be discussing value without regard to the law of equal liberty as a prior condition, or soberly advocating the exercise of the right of might regardless of equity, that I interpreted his words as implying a superiority in equity in the community’s title to land over that of the individual, a superiority other than that of might, a superiority, in short, other than that by which the highwayman relieves the traveller of his goods. I was bound to suppose (and later statements in his present letter seem to strengthen the supposition) that he looked upon the “giving-up, by the community,” of its right to land as the giving-up of a superior equitable right; for otherwise, in demanding value in return for this sacrifice, he would be compelled in logic to demand, on behalf of a burglar, value in return for the sacrifice made in declining to carry off a householder’s wealth by stealth. But Egoist repudiates this supposition (though he does not follow the logic of his repudiation), and I must take him at his word. He thus lays himself open to a retort which I could not otherwise have made. In his previous letter he criticised me for making sentiment a factor in the estimation of value. Whether or not this was a transgression, on my part, of the limits of economic discussion, he certainly has transgressed them much more seriously in making force such a factor. Exchange implies liberty; where there is no liberty, there is no exchange, but only robbery; and robbery is foreign to political economy. At least one point, however, is gained. Between Egoist and myself all question of any superior equitable right of the community is put aside forever. Equity not considered, we agree that the land belongs to the man or body of men strong enough to hold it. And for all practical purposes his definition of “ownership” suits me, though I view ownership less as a “result of the ability of the community to maintain possession” and an application of this result “for the benefit of individuals,” than as a result of the inability of the community to maintain itself in peace and security otherwise than by the recognition of only such relations between man and wealth as are in harmony with the law of equal liberty. In other words, ownership arises, not from the superiority of the community to the individual, but from the inferiority of the community to the facts and powers of nature.
(2) This would depend upon whether such domination would prove profitable or disastrous to Egoist. I contend that it would prove disastrous, and that experience would lead him to abandon such a policy if foresight should not prevent him from adopting it.
(3) Here we have an acknowledgment of a principle of equity and a contemplation of its observance by the mighty, which goes to sustain my original supposition, despite Egoist’s protest. It implies an abandonment by the mighty of their right of domination and a willingness to contract with the weak. Now, I agree that the contracts thus entered into will not lead to serious results, unless they create inequitable relations between individuals. But the first of all equities is not equality of material well-being, but equality of liberty; and if the contract places the former equality before the latter, it will lead to serious results, for it logically necessitates the arbitrary levelling of all material inequalities, whether these arise from differences of soil or differences of skill. To directly enforce equality of material well-being is meddlesome, invasive, and offensive, but to directly enforce equality of liberty is simply protective and defensive. The latter is negative, and aims only to prevent the establishment of artificial inequalities; the former is positive, and aims at direct and active abolition of natural inequalities. If the former is the true policy, then it is as equitable to enforce the pooling of interest, profit, and wages as the pooling of rent. If the latter is the true policy, we have only to see to it that no artificial barriers against individual initiative are constructed. Under such conditions, if the natural inequalities tend to disappear, as they surely will, then so much the better.
(4) Not at all. It would only imply that Egoist considers others wise enough to see that, from the standpoint of self-interest, even so great a natural inequality as is here supposed is preferable to an arbitrary distribution of the products of labor.
(5) In speaking of skill as “inseparably attached to the individual,” Egoist surely does not mean to argue the impossibility of seizing and distributing the results of skill, for that would be a ridiculous contention. Then he can only mean that there is something sacred about the individual which the mighty are bound to respect. But this again is inconsistent with his theory of the right of might. If the strongest is to exercise his might, then he need stop at nothing but the impossible; if, on the other hand, he contracts with the weaker on a basis of equal liberty, then both strong and weak must be left secure in their possession of the products of their labor, whether aided by superior skill or superior soil.
(6) This is not true, unless Malthusianism is true; and, if Malthusianism is true, it is as true after the pooling of rent as before. If the encroachment of population over the limit of the earth’s capacity is inevitable, then there is no solution of the social problem. Pooling the rent or organizing credit would only postpone the catastrophe. Sooner or later the masses would find nothing to share but the curses of war rather than the “blessings of peace,” and at that stage it would matter but little to them whether they shared equally or unequally.
(7) And I only hold that, if in that case rent were to be nationalized by force, liberty would be incomplete, and liberty must be complete, whatever happens.
(8) No, I too hold that superiority will always rule; and it is only when real superiority is known and recognized as such, and therefore allowed to have its perfect work unresisted and unimpeded, that the minimum of evil will result. The really serious results are those that follow the attempts of inferiority, mistaking itself for superiority, to fly in the face of the real article. In other words, when individuals or majorities, seeing that they are stronger for the time being than other individuals or minorities, suppose that they are therefore stronger than natural social laws and act in violation of them, disaster is sure to follow. These laws are the really mighty, and they will always prevail. The first of them is the law of equal liberty. It is by the observance of this law, I am persuaded, rather than by “an equal share in the transferable opportunities,” that the ultimate “intelligence of the people” will remove every “reasonable cause of complaint.”
How Shall Lovers Live?
Dear Comrade Tucker:
Quoting my remark that “any thoughtful and chivalrous man might shrink” from asking his lover to enter a free-love and separate-home life, you ask; “But would he not shrink even more from inviting her to enter a life of marital slavery, or one which might at any moment turn into that?” Perhaps. The fact is there is no possible sexual relation which a thoughtful and kind man might not shrink from asking a woman to enter. Under the present system pain and degradation are certain for her, let her choose what she will, let her do what she may, or do nothing. Damn! — but it makes me grind my teeth.
But, things being as they are, a man is apt to think: “I am not a tyrant. My wife shall be free as any maid. Marriage with us shall be only a stratagem to outwit the world. Under its cover we shall be freer than if we were openly radical. We will have separate homes, under the same roof, and our loves and lives shall be as spontaneous, and as free, as our environment will permit.”
There is much to be said in favor of this; and it is a position any man conscious of his integrity is likely to assume as the line of least resistance, and the lesser evil where all methods are evil somewhat. Of course the woman accepts at her peril; of course the possession of marital power is demoralizing to any man; and of course any man who asks a woman to marry him insults her. I know it all, and you know where I stand, and yet — there is much to consider. We are all slaves under the present régime, women especially so, and premature defiance on the part of a slave is not wise. It is the dog that bites who is muzzled; it is the horse that runs that wears the curb. You tell the Communists of Chicago that for them to take up arms is folly; they are not strong enough; they will only be beaten, and their slavery increased and embittered. It is so with women. Revolt means slander, insult, contempt, outrage, and few of them are strong enough to endure. Defiance means life-long martyrdom; and martyrdom is not for us to urge.
Consider. For ages every possible agency, mental, physical, religious, political, social, and all conscious and unconscious forces, have been brought to bear to create women adapted to the ideal of exclusive marriage and communal homes. And the success is well-nigh complete. Almost every woman born into the world today has every nerve and instinct attuned to this. She is born weak, dependent, clinging, sensitive, sympathetic, approbative, loyal, devoted, and educated to a barometrical regard for public opinion. To convince such a woman that she should be a radical and practical free-lover, in defiance of convention, is like placing her naked in the pillory. Drawing every breath from infancy in an atmosphere of tender respect, admiration, sympathy, and love, to have all these cut off, is not only most exquisite torture, but is inimical to the vital powers to a dangerous and ofttimes fatal extent. In view of all this, I wonder at you for wondering that “a woman who despises the present society should covet its love, honor, and friendship.” Do you wonder that the animals of the tropics, when brought to this zone, perish from phthisis? Every creature has its habitat, and the habitat of woman is not liberty (more’s the pity) but social respect. Hundreds of brave, proud, high-spirited women have adopted the free-love life, and then have been slowly tortured by soul-hunger and reversed magnetism into surrender, or death. Most of those who attempt it soon marry, or live as wives. Nothing is easier than for a woman to utterly despise the spirit and arrangement of modern society, and yet passionately long for the love and respect of the individuals composing it. And all radical and defiant reformers manifest mental eccentricities and deformities of character largely because it is only by wide, and diversified, and abounding human contact, sympathy, and approbation, that all-sided, self-poised, statuesque characters are formed. Human love is a life-force, and those who have it not must be stunted and narrowed in many ways, struggle as they may. Wherefore I said: “It is for each human being to form an inventory of his own military resources, and in view of their magnitude, or insignificance, decide” to what extent be can wisely do battle with the powers that be. No one soldier, in any war, is expected to fight without ceasing, at sight of the foe, without regard to their number or power, and without regard to his own armament, support, and base of supplies. All soldiers have privilege to employ stratagem, retreat, make truce, or even surrender in presence of overwhelming opposition, without prejudice to their courage. We are all soldiers in the army of freedom, and if each makes the best fight he can, it is enough. It is for each individual to do his fit work and live his best life. Only the few possess the genius of martyrdom.
There is no hurry. No one of us carries the world. It is a matter of evolution. True ideas, faultless ideals — and then let the world grow.
And yet I so love those who defy, I so admire those who endure, that I am tempted to unsay all this, and urge all to be plumb-liners in deed as in thought. But I know it is not wise; and for the masses it is not only not wise, but it is impossible.
As to my communication: I intended no reply to, or controversy with Victor. My ideas were my own, and I have no apology to make should they agree with his. I believe it to be a fact in nature that love, at those points and on those lines where manifested, apparently obliterates boundary lines, and that its tendency is to fuse and make one.
I believe that everything in the universe has life and intelligence in some degree, and that these separate lives are all connected, more or less loosely or closely, so as to form one life. That which connects all, or perhaps the perception of such connection, is this mysterious subtility we call sympathy; and in love (using that word in the highest) we feel our sympathy more than our separateness. This is the communism between lovers of which I wrote,— the electrical communism of spiritual and physical harmony, the feeling that you are mine and I am yours, and, on the physical plane, of contact, caresses, gifts, and generosity. All this is well, I repeat, so long as it is enjoyed by both, and nothing is done to compel its continuance an instant beyond the line of mutual willingness. True lovers kiss as though their lips would never part, but were they really glued, the most exquisite torture would at once be felt; they long for physical union, but a Siamese-twin-ligature would ruin their pleasure; they long to share each other’s homes, but all settled arrangements of that sort make their home the real home of neither.
A man may visit the home of the woman he loves, and is free to leave the instant the currents of attraction flow less freely, thus preserving his love fresh and free from satiety. He delights in every picture, and curtain, and dainty ornament, as a revelation of her taste and character. But let them unite and furnish a room together, buying on shares, and uniting their household goods promiscuously, and endless disagreement at once arises, secret if not open, and the romance of communing perishes from surfeit. Each has power to control and annoy the other, and instant separations are not very practicable where mutual interests, responsibilities, and possessions bind. It is, then, because I hold that the home should reveal and express and develop the tastes and character of its owner, being sacred to that owner, and because I know that too much living together destroys the charm of living together, that I reject the communal home, and I see nothing illogical in so doing. Given separate homes, and the perfect joy of the communing of two lovers who sit, eat, and sleep together, whenever the impulse is on them, will be completed in the thought that, when the impulse is outlived, fulfilled, the visit may end as easily, pleasantly, harmlessly, as kissing lips can part.
J. Wm. Lloyd.
[So far as the foregoing letter, addressed to me, dwells on the propriety of the individual’s use of his judgment in deciding how far to attempt to realize his beliefs in his life, and protests against the idea that all men and women of new thought are bound to make martyrs of themselves, it carries coals to Newcastle. Worse, it returns the very coals that Newcastle has been sending out these many years. Liberty has always contended that the individual should govern his life according to his circumstances, and, in commenting on Mr. Lloyd’s article, did not intimate that any woman either should or should not live a life of freedom. The position taken was that a woman who believes in freedom and despises marriage necessarily despises the existing society which marriage has rotted to the core, and that such a woman, if confronted with a simple choice between her freedom and the honor and friendship of such a society, would instantly elect the former. I purposely ignored the many difficulties which might very properly deter her from entering a free life, simply that I might emphasize the fact that a desire for social honor would not influence her. And I still hold that it would not. It is impossible to covet the love of that which you despise. But I am told that a woman might easily despise society and yet long for the love and respect of the individuals composing it. Of some of the individuals composing it, yes; but only of such as would refuse to boycott her because of her free life. And these are not to be considered here, because their love and respect she would not forfeit in living freely. The analogy between the Chicago Communists and the women will not hold. It is folly for the former to take up arms, not because they are not strong enough, but because no amount of mere strength, however great, can achieve the social revolution. The women, on the contrary, if they were strong enough to live free lives, could abolish marriage. (I am not blaming them for lacking this strength; it is impossible for them to have it before becoming well-paid and independent laborers.) The man who, because confident of his integrity, would invite a woman to marry him as the least of several evils would only show that his confidence in his integrity exceeded his appreciation of the evil effects of marriage upon people of the greatest integrity. Upon the point of communism I criticised Mr. Lloyd, not because he agreed with Victor, but because he did not agree with himself. This disagreement disappears in the light of his present explanation of his use of the term communism, but the explanation takes all the stiffening out of that portion of his previous article which he emphasized with italics. To say that communism is all right as long as there is sympathy, and then to define communism as sympathy, is to use words to no purpose whatsoever except one of confusion. — Editor Liberty.]
The final session of the Fiftieth Congress opens well. As a result of the work of the special committee on immigration which travelled about the country last summer, General Oates of Alabama, a member of that committee, has introduced a bill forbidding the admission to this country of any alien who is an idiot, a lunatic, a pauper, a criminal, a polygamist, an Anarchist, or a Socialist. If this bill should pass, it is not unlikely that some future historian will present in parallel columns the names of the members of the Fiftieth Congress and the names of an equal number of the most prominent Europeans whom this bill excluded from American soil. In that case the student of history who shall see on one side such names as General Oates, Leopold Morse, and Timothy Campbell, and on the other such as Pierre Kropotkine, William Morris, John Ruskin, Pierre Lavroff, and Elisée Reclus, will be apt to softly whisper to himself. Once more the stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner. The “political microbes” of America and the scientists, philosophers, and poets of Europe will afford him an instructive contrast. The surest way to make Anarchists of those who are already in this country is to bar others out because of their opinions. Oh, Canute, Canute, poor, miserable, insignificant creature that you are! will you never learn that you cannot stay the rising tide?
Certain utterances in President Cleveland’s last message led the New York “Tribune” to class him with the Anarchists and Communists. The president may indeed be proud of this distinction of being the only ruler of men ever honored by such an association. But it is strange that the “Tribune” should so badly give itself away in basing its accusation on the president’s solicitude about labor. So, then, the Communists are not conspiring thieves, and the Anarchists are not murderous thugs, but both simply champion the cause of labor? At last we have the admission from the enemy himself.
Suppose Henry George has done more than any other man who ever lived to popularize the study of political economy: what of it? That’s our good fortune, but not his virtue. He did it, not by contributing anything new and valuable to our knowledge of political economy, but by writing about political economy in a singularly effective and popular literary style plentifully streaked with cheap piety and sentiment. Should this shield him from criticism of his errors and denunciation of his treachery? Mr. Kuehn seems to think so.
Rev. J. C. Kimball of Hartford, Conn., who so man-fully denounced from his pulpit the execution of the Chicago martyrs, sends me a copy of the farewell sermon which he lately preached. It is entitled “A Minister’s Ideal,” and in it he declares his conviction that, despite the trouble it brought upon him, his sermon of a year ago came nearer to that ideal than any other act of his ministry.
From Herman Kuehn’s letter to Labadie it would seem that he knows of people who were enlightened by the presidential campaign. Therefore I am forced to believe that there are such. But of this I am still sure,— that for every one thus enlightened a hundred were plunged still deeper into the fog by the twistings and turnings of the campaign orators, who dread nothing so much as a square issue.
If Comrades Labadie and Soreng think that they can stop the misrepresentation of Anarchists simply by holding a conference and putting forth a declaration of principles, they are surprisingly ignorant of the nature of the beast known as a capitalistic newspaper. And Labadie moves in one of its haunts, too!
The real question involved in the problem of compromise is not whether a man’s life should harmonize with his beliefs, but whether it is better, in the interest of truth, that a teacher should not tell the whole of it, even though he can just as well as not.
John Most finds a great deal that is good in Cleveland’s message. This evidence of level-headedness on the part of the editor of “Freiheit” is pleasing to the editor of Liberty, but must be terribly shocking to our mutual friend Franklin of New Haven.
The “Freidenker” describes “liberty” and “equality” as “two much-abused words.” True; and they are never more abused than when the editor of the “Freidenker” treats of them in the columns of his paper.
Ideas and Conduct.
Men are progressive. This means that they never are and never can be at peace with themselves; that they are ever criticising, analysing, judging their own practices and those of their fellows; that their thought and imagination are in perpetual conflict with the habits and quiet routine of their daily life; that, in a word, they constitute an arena in which the ideal and the real ceaselessly wage their eternal battle. Like Iolanthe’s son, half-fairy, half-mortal, who would defy all earthly dangers if the lower part of his body were obedient and controllable, man, attracted and drawn by two powerful influences in opposite directions, despairs of ever ending his agonizing suspense and attaining personal freedom. He would soar high above the earth and follow his rich fancy with fervor and unction, were he not held fast in the arms of the love of security and peace and comfortable passiveness. True, the ideal is continually gaining ground and converting it into beautiful settlements of refined beings, but the struggle is exhausting and the loss and sacrifice heavy.
Much is said about the duty of the reformer to conform in his personal conduct to the new tenets which he announces to the world as possessing the elements of transforming the not over-attractive present into a joyous and delightful future. This view is gainsaid and opposed with considerable force and reason. And as every reflecting mind and warm heart must be assigned a place in the ranks of reform, the problem of harmonizing conduct and ideas is one that is often brought home to us and so full of deep interest for all of us. On the obstacles in the way of such harmony it is hardly necessary to dwell; we know them but too well. But it will be useful to review the principal opinions entertained with regard to the problem, and to see how much light they throw on it and how far they enable us to advance toward solving it practically.
First to occur to the mind is the ascetic school of the Rakhmétoffs. They will tolerate no compromises and hear of no apologies. You must walk in a straight line if you want to receive any recognition from them. “Practice what you preach,” they sternly exhort, absolutely, rigorously, without exception or self-indulgence of any kind. Do as you think; otherwise, neither you individually nor the theories you set out to propagate will exert the slightest influence or command the least respect. Teaching by example is not merely, as many have supposed, the best mode of teaching; it is the only fruitful and effective mode. It is not by what you say, it is by your actions, conduct, behavior that you and your principles will be estimated and judged. Those to whom you direct your appeals, among whom you design to plant the seed, must find in you a living, personified, concrete illustration of the nobleness and beneficence of your new faith. By its fruit, as displayed on the tree of your individuality, they shall know it. It is a thorny path, a perilous mission, but, were it different, there would be no need of you. Were transition easy, progress and change pleasantly convenient, men would not only feel no hesitancy and fear about accepting innovations, would not only organize no opposition, but, acting unrestrainedly then from the love of originality, novelty, and variety natural to them, would ardently welcome all suggestions of such. It is because reform is so formidable an undertaking, so great a problem, so serious a step, that conservatism has always a presumptively strong case against progressive experiments; and it is because conservatism has so strong a case,— much stronger, in fact, than most of its avowed advocates suspect or are able to make it out,— that you, its assailant, can hope to accomplish nothing with your gloves on, and must either consent to take them off and stoically support the burden of practical demonstration, or else, with more discretion than courage, lay down the weapon and withdraw from the field. You are a spectator, not a fighting reformer.
And this, of course, naturally brings up the antithetical position.
“Do as the Romans do,” is the careless and cynical counsel of the other. Your intellect may penetrate the mysteries of social existence; you may lift yourself ideally high above the actual world with its empty forms and hollow pretences; you may in your superior wisdom learn to regard as contemptible that which is held sacred by your fellows; you may attain a height of development from which the doings and anxieties below must needs appear miserably shallow and pitifully absurd. Yet, while you may be conscious of just pride, it is not for you to exhibit to the world a contrast it cares not to behold, to open a prospect it declines to gaze into. You may be right; but what of it, if all around you is hopelessly bad? Life is too short to begin a fight of one against all, and it is folly to deprive one’s self of the gratification that the now affords in the name of theoretical ideas of what might be or should be. Accommodate yourself to what is. If the mountain does not manifest any intention of coming to you, lose no time in diminishing the distance by going to it. Are you in any wise responsible for the low state of the world? Because you are wiser than the rest, must you f re worse than they? Because they are ignorant, vulgar, degraded, and do not conceive with you that life might be ordered to the highest welfare and elevation of all, must you act so as to incur their wrathful persecution, and thus be a self-appointed victim and redeemer of others’ sins? No; that is narrow and blind fanaticism, religious superstition, beneath the enlightened dignity of a free mind. Why should you renounce the pleasures of the present? “What has the future done for you that you should do aught for it?” Let it take care of itself. Live like the rest, come what may after you, even a deluge! Ideas are independent of facts. Truth is truth, whether men reverence and adopt it or not. Conduct must frequently represent a violation of ideas. It’s thus th t the offended rabble revenges itself upon the bold and unconventional social heretics, who in thought dare to be supremely independent of the limitations of popular custom, law, or institution.
Exemplification of both extremes, singularly enough, is given us by one individual. Vsevolod Garshin, a young Russian novelist who lately committed suicide, exemplified the first in his own person, while he drew a splendid picture of the other in one of his tales. Garshin, on whom Tourgenief’s mantle had fallen, was a highly-gifted author, but one for whom success was an impossibility. Unlike Tourgenief, he was poor and plebeian, and his personal qualities were of a nature to have made his melancholy fate a foregone conclusion. Too frail and delicate for the harder work of the world, too sensitive and refined for its dirtier work, too loving and gentle for its struggles, too truthful and honest for its intrigues and hypocrisy, too modest and contemplative to be pushing and loud, too noble to play the oppressor, too faithful to the muses to be mercenary, Garshin was destined to a life of bitterness and vexation in this noisy and false and cold and unsympathetic world. He was too pure to live, totally unfit to survive in his environment, and, after years of suffering, was driven to a suicide’s grave. It was a case of the ideal clashing with the real; the ideal, refusing, perhaps unable, to descend to compromise, had to perish in the unequal conflict. Those who do not bend and lower the flag they carry aloft are laid low by the merciless sword of necessity, with the flag rolling in the dust. Who raises it again? Not Nadia.
Garshin shows us in “Nadia” what the conduct of those denying the practicability of the ideal unconditionally is like. Nadia is a proud, clever, educated, independent girl, who is filled with unalloyed contempt of everything around her. She sees the littleness of the men and women in high society, their vanity, insincerity, low interests, and meanness. She despises them. She canot love them, sympathize with them, or trust them. Her ideal of a true man or woman can only serve to intensify her disgust with those now claiming the title who fall so short of it. If she only had been rich! then she could have avoided them and lived in a world of her own. But she was poor. She had a taste for luxury, which she was unwilling to gratify at the price of her liberty. To obey (or even disobey) a husband — what a cruel indignity! Yet why should she not experience the pleasures of life. Nadia solves the problem by becoming, not a monopolized commodity of one man, but an expensive indulgence of many.
It will have been seen that Garshin only passively resisted wrong. He was no active destroyer of established iniquity. But the fate of those who scorn silent suffering and challenge the powers that be to mortal combat can be nothing other than the same martyrdom. The circumstances of the transition to Nirvana are somewhat altered in the case of the John Browns, but there is no essential difference in the consequences of their policies. The wages of defiant sin against social arrangements is death. It will also have been noted that Nadia is not simply one of the many who take things as they find them; she carried herself in a way that doubtless appears shocking to the “Romans” themselves; but she was only a little bolder than the average representative of her school. She disregarded even the commonest scruples, while the rest illogically defer to them.
Had the struggle between the old and the new been entirely confined to these types, no such sure and steady gain as we accredited to the advancing army of reform at the start would have been possible, and progress would indeed have been a myth. The moderates are those who realize the ideal and materialize the dreams of the extremists. They have an easy task in confuting the plausibilities of their critics. On the one hand, it is simply impossible “to be moral in immoral surroundings” and remain among the living. So, excellent as teaching by example is, one cannot strictly follow this method. To be a teacher it is necessary to live, and an attempt to practise unreservedly the articles of the new faith involves the loss of life. On the other hand, it is just as impossible to remain untouched and unaffected in the midst of progressive currents and spontaneous development of new thoughts and inspirations. The philosophy of indifference finds its complete refutation in the fact that men are influenced in their conduct by their ideas, which become parts of themselves. Ordinarily men will rush to neither of the extremes, but endeavor to construct a compromise. With such the problem is how to make the best of the worst, how to practise no more of the ideal than is compatible with maintaining a firm hold upon the real, and no less than is required to make the real worth the effort of maintaining that hold. They compromise. They live lives of contradiction. Each decides for himself where to draw the line, how far to go with the crowd, and where to depart and become a non-conformist and a heretic. And as men infinitely differ in their opinions, and are governed by a multiplicity of considerations, it follows that nothing like unanimity can prevail on the question what in the social structure it is most important to change, and nothing like unity in the work of destruction and reformation. There is no organization of forces, and none under the conditions possible. The movements are confused, chaotic, and planless.
Compromise, then, is the order of the day. But is it to be deplored as a misfortune and regretted necessity, or is it a virtue to be proud of and extol? Here a divergence takes place in the argumentation of the champions of compromise. One set of reasoners would have us look upon it as a humane and honorable policy, arguing: Society obeys the law of evolution. Nothing in it is absolutely and eternally either good or bad. What is must be. Everything has its periods of inception, maturity, and decay. Because men grow feeble and useless and burdensome, must we like savages kill them off? Ideas are inseparable from living human beings. He who thinks feels. Attack a man’s cherished convictions, and you attack his all. What right have we, who have outgrown the old society, to despise it, condemn it, and treat it cruelly? The present conservatives were the radicals in their day. It has cost them much to achieve their aims, and they believe as intensely as we do. Their reluctance to let us have our way entitles them to our admiration. We must deal gently with the old. Shelley may have lost all respect for the morality of his time; yet he acted philosophically in outwardly conforming to prescribed forms. The forms are empty, but human hearts are attached to them, which we must not sacrifice thoughtlessly to abstractions. Change should be gradual.
There is a great amount of vital and profound truth in all this, which is very little appreciated. Radicals too often lose sight of the fact that, in laboring for humanity in the abstract, they are liable to play sad havoc with numerous concrete representatives of humanity. To be a terrorist is not merely to take tyrants’ lives; it is also to injure many innocents. To be associated in unpopular agitation is to expose one’s own family, kindred, to misery and suffering. It is indeed enjoined upon us to be considerate and cautious in even our reformatory efforts.
But the same admonition should be addressed to the conservative side. Why is it not impressed with the necessity of making concessions judicially and reconciling itself to improvement? Why is it so prone to forget its past struggles, and meet new ideas with furious opposition and unreasoning hostility? It should realize that it must disappear and be succeeded by something new, just as it caused the dissolution of that which it replaced. Yet we know that generally it is the first to declare war, to appeal to brute force, and to stir up bitter feelings. In the arrogance of power, conservatism insists that every part and parcel of its domain must remain free from the treasonable spirit of progress; it is jealous of everything belonging to it; and it will tolerate no attack upon anything whatever, great or small. Only when attacked and pressed hard from all sides it begins to recognize distinctions. If you show the faintest inclination to yield, it will compel you to surrender altogether. To be a Socialist is to be branded as a criminal as long as nothing more revolutionary is heard of. Anarchism appears, and Socialism ceases to be the object of violent abuse. Divorce is objectionable as long as reformers modestly refrain from asking more. Marriage is denounced in its essence,— and it is at once granted that liberty of divorce is a desirable thing.
Abundant reason must therefore be admitted to support those compromisers who frankly confess that they are only prevented by physical impossibility from accomplishing more of their theoretical programme. We cannot blame those who disregard the prejudices and sentiments of the old and, like George Eliot, venture to assail the main roots and central props of social institutions. The injury they inflict is not a matter for which, broadly speaking, they can be called to account. They are instruments. It is the law of progress that son must rise against father and brother against brother. Sighs and tears are of no avail. Man kills through love and inflicts pain through excess of sympathy. So it has been since man came to know himself as a social animal, and so it must continue as long as human nature is what it is and the conditions of human development are not changed,— as long as man is not master of his own destiny.
The future, however, is of little interest to us, except as a theme for speculation. But how unsatisfactory the results this review affords us with regard to the present! All is contradiction, mystery, confusion; all is provisional, partial, defective, unsettled. No theory of conduct, no clear and definite rules, no leading principles for reformers to abide and be guided by? No, with Spencer, we can only place the ideal man in an ideal society, while in this real society, in which it is ours to live and work, nothing in our conduct can escape the stamp and taint of compromise and inconsistency. It is easy to build narrow theories, but it is worse than useless, it is dangerous. As a Russian philosophical writer observes:
A “theory” is an excellent and even indispensable thing; but one must know how to handle it. One must not be the slave, but the master, of the theory; care, not about its indestructibility, but about its comprehensiveness. We should not turn a living theory into a stiff and rigid dogma; and in meeting a sparkling and original phenomenon, be ready with a verdict of good or bad according as it does or does not harmonize with the “theory.” Life is not to suit theories; theories must be at one with life. Life is broader than the broadest theory, and the task of the publicist, reasoner, and theorist should consist in thoughtfully maintaining the correspondence between theory and practical reality.
Don’t keep Liberty to yourself, share it with others!
Leonard E. Read: Accent On The Right: To Frederic Bastiat (1801–1850), who sought for truth rather than outcome and never witnessed the fruits his labor bore. Obedience to conscience was his first rule; we witness the results.
Leonard E. Read: Anything That’s Peaceful: Many favor peace but not many favor the things that make for peace. — Thomas à Kempis
Leonard E. Read: Awake for Freedom’s Sake: Finally, share with others. Forget about “reforming” them! The more we share, the more we learn. This is in the interest of self and freedom!
Leonard E. Read: Castles in the Air: If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; there is where they should be. Now put foundations under them. — Henry David Thoreau
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.