Vol. II.
<No. 16.>

“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.”

John Hay.

On Picket Duty.

Dead, are we?

The New York “Herald” says so.

Rather a lively corpse you’ll find us, I imagine.

Liberty simply “let go to get a better hold.” She’s got it.

Charles O’Conor, who died in Nantucket the other day, was almost an Anarchist. If he could have had his way, there would have been very little government in this world. Extracts from his writings in proof of this assertion will appear hereafter in Liberty.

On April 12 a new journal, entitled “Proudhon,” was started in Paris. M. Lesverdays is the editor. I have not seen a copy yet, and do not know its character or how often it is published, but I hope to report favorably upon it in a later issue. May it prove as good as its name!

Joseph Henry is progressing steadily but slowly in the publication of his “Essays on Death and Funerals,” issuing them in parts. They have attracted a great deal of attention from the Liberal press, and have received, as they deserve, high praise from eminent men. He needs assistance in their publication and should have it. He can be addressed at Salina, Kansas.

    1. Mendum, Boston, has issued in pamphlet form an address recently delivered in this city by James W. Stillman on “The Mormon Question.” It is a clear exposition of the rights of citizens of Utah under the constitution and over it, and a timely protest against the shameful crusade now organizing against a people who can boast a civilization in not a few respects immeasurably superior to our own.

John Swinton tells me that his “Paper” is doing famously in the West. Good! I’m glad of it. Our beliefs regarding many things are diametrically opposite, but his manly sympathy with the oppressed and denunciation of the oppressor command my hearty admiration. “You see we’ve stolen your name,” said he to me the other day in New York, referring to the new Liberty League. Why didn’t he take the idea with it? Then I would not complain. But I find myself distinctly disagreeing to almost every plank in his platform because it is in fiat violation of Liberty. Liberty is a name on every tongue. Strange that so few know what it means! Nevertheless “John Swinton’s Paper” is telling lats of truth, just as I said it would.

Dr. M. E. Lazarus, of Guntersville, Alabama, who used to be among the foremost and the ablest in reformatory work, but has been very quiet of late years, has begun writing again, and his pen is doing fine service in more then one liberal journal. Liberty hopes to be favored ere long. Meanwhile he sends the following message of encouragement, after receiving and reading a package of sample copies: “Your pen is the echo of my inmost thoughts, which for thirty years have been my despair for want of a fitting medium through which to popularize them and achieve their social fruition. You relieve me of the painful conviction that mine is the only sane mind in a world of fools. I hail the star which radiates from Boston, a city whose keen air is helpful to the spontaneous creation of the humanitarian ideal. You find there, I hope, true confrères.”

Johann Most is saying some carious things in his “Freiheit” about Proudhon and the Anarchists. It seems that Proudhon called himself an Anarchist, but really was not one; that he only has about two hundred followers left in the whole world; and that the great Revolutionary army has marched on ahead of him. Well! well! well! This doesn’t agree very well with what Most (so I hear) says in private,— namely, that Tucker is right, but has gone too far ahead. Most one day complained to me of my obstinate and bitter antagonism to Communism, claiming that Communism is perfectly consistent with Anarchism. “But suppose,” said I, “that, instead of working in your Communistic organization, I prefer to work for John Smith for wages.” “Oh!” in that case,” he answered, “we should have to use force to prevent you.” That’s the kind of an Anarchist Most is. It’s the kind that Proudhon wasn’t.

Liberty had something to say in its last issue about that humbug, Richard T. Ely, and his book on French and German Socialism. It mercilessly exposed the pretence of fairness and impartiality, and showed him to be a liar and a slanderer. That the hypocritical villain was successfully unmasked is shown by a recent series of three articles written by him for the “Christian Union” on “Recent Phases of Socialism in the United States.” His honeyed words have given place to extravagant and outrageous denunciation, and he foams at the mouth like a raging maniac. One feature of his ravings is exceedingly rich. It will be remembered that the San Francisco “Truth,” captivated by the “taffy” in Ely’s book, puffed it tremendously, and began to sell it as a part of its propagandism, for which stupidity Liberty took occasion to rebuke it. Ely in his “Christian Union” articles, referring to the editors of “Truth,” “Freiheit,” and the Chicago “Vorbote,” says that “their god is their belly.” I wish “Truth” joy of its chosen champion.

Liberty is ever ready to welcome the appearance of an honest, indignant enemy to sham, even though the warrior aim his shots a little short of the citadel of authority, and devote himself to breaking through the outer works. The “San Franciscan,” a new weekly journal of the Pacific Coast, is doing good work on the skirmish line of the Revolution by showing the people of California the utter futility of their efforts to check corporate rapacity by the use of the ballot. Liberty’s new ally says: “The railroad tax, like the tariff tax, taps the property-owning class lightly as it passes on its way to the hapless wage-earner, whom it throttles and robs. All wealth comes from productive labor, and, necessarily, all taxes fall upon it. The productive labor is done by men not one in a hundred of whom is a property-owner. Therefore it is the propertyless class who have most cause to complain of railroad extortion, as well as of every governmental abuse end extravagance that increases the cost of living. The active interest in the railroad question which the non-property-owning class is showing, proves that foe cart-horses of society are awaking to the fact that they ought, in justice, to have something to say about the size of foe loads which they are expected to drag.”

The New York “Herald” appeared last Sunday with a broadside detailing a huge Anarchistic conspiracy in this country for purposes of assassination. If the rest of it is as inaccurate as the following extract, not much attention need be paid to it: “Proudhon’s theory that ‘property is robbery’ has found half a dozen admirers in the New England States. Three years ago, Dr. E. Nathan Ganz tried to popularize Proudhonism and Bakounism in his monthly, the Anarchist, published in Boston, in a black cover with a red title. His arrest, on a charge of swindling, killed the paper after the first number. His former friend, Benjamin R. Tucker, propagated pure Proudhonism by the fortnightly, Liberty, which lately ceased to appear for want of subscribers.” This effort to blacken Liberty with the stain of Ganz’s exploits has gone on about long enough. Ganz was by no means a thorough-going Proudhonian Anarchist. He was in full sympathy with Most, “Le Revolté,” and the whole school of anarchistic communists. If the odium of his sins is to fall on any section of the Revolutionary party, it must be that section to which he belonged. I refuse to bear it any longer in silence. As for the statement about Liberty, of course it is false. Liberty never died at all, and its subscription list has steadily grown from the day it stared.

Mr. Ivan Panin comes tardily to the front with an answer to a criticism long ago passed upon him by Liberty. In a letter received not long since he says: “In 1881 you raked me over the coals in your Liberty for expressing foe opinion (though to me it was knowledge) that the Executive Committee of the Russian Revolutionary Party were not Anarchists. You cited Bakounine and Lavroff as proofs of my misstatement. Neither of these two were ever members of the Executive Committee. Lavroff, moreover, in a statement under his own signature which lies before me, says that not only is he himself no Anarchist, but no Anarchistic fraction ever even claimed him as such. I do not see Liberty now. As it was there you attacked me, I will ask you to send me a copy, should you think it fair to print this correction.” Let us see about this. It was not in 1881 that I raked Mr. Panin over the coals, but on May 13,1882. I said nothing about his “opinion.” I said nothing about the Executive Committee. I did not charge him with saying anything about the Executive Committee. I charged him with making the false assertion in private that Anarchists in general and Bakounine in particular were persons of no influence and no importance, unrecognized by intelligent revolutionists and frowned upon by Nihilists. To controvert him on this I cited the names of Kropotkine, Lavroff, and others. Possibly I have been misled concerning Lavroff, and Mr. Panin has the benefit of his evidence on that point. Does that alone suffice to vindicate Mr. Panin and put me to shame? How about Kropotkine and Bakounine? Has Mr. Panin any “knowledge” about them which conflicts with my statement of their position? If so, Liberty’s columns are open to him. If not, was I not justified in attacking him? I shall send him this issue of Liberty with pleasure, and, if he will keep me informed as to his address, every issue thereafter until his subscription has expired.

What’s To Be Done?

A Romance.

By N. G. Tchernychewksy.

Translated by Benj. R. Tucker.

Translator’s Preface.

This romance, the last work and only novel from Tchernychewsky’s pen, originally appeared in 1863 in a St. Petersburg magazine, the author writing it at that time in a St. Petersburg dungeon, where he was confined for twenty-two months prior to being sent into exile in Siberia by the cruel Czar who has since paid the penalty of this crime and many others. This martyr-hero of the modern Revolution still languishes in a remote corner of that cheerless country, his health ruined and — if report be true — his mind shattered by his long solitude and enforced abstention from literary and revolutionary work. The present Czar, true son of his father, persistently refuses to mitigate his sentence, despite the petition for Tchernychewsky’s freedom sent not long ago to Alexander III. by the literary celebrities of the world gathered in international congress at Vienna.

The Russian Nihilists regard the present work as a faithful portraiture of themselves and their movement, and as such they contrast it with the celebrated “Fathers and Sons” of Tourgueneff, which they consider rather as a caricature. The fundamental idea of Tchernychewsky’s work is that woman is a human being end not an animal created for man’s benefit, and its chief purpose is to show the superiority of free unions between men and women over the indissoluble marriage sanctioned by Church and State. It may almost be considered a continuation of the great Herzen’s novel, “Who Is To Blame?” written fifteen years before on the same subject. If the reader should find the work singular in form and sometimes obscure, he must remember that it was written under the eye of an autocrat, who punished with terrific severity any one who wrote against “the doctrines of the Orthodox Church, its traditions and ceremonies, or the truths and dogmas of Christian faith in general,” against “the inviolability of the Supreme Autocratic Power or the respect due to the Imperial Family,” anything contrary to “the fundamental regulations of the State,” or anything tending to “shock good morals and propriety.”

As a work of art “What’s To Be Done?” speaks for itself. Nevertheless, the words of a European writer regarding it may not be amiss. “In the author’s view the object of art is not to embellish and idealize nature, but to reproduce her interesting phases; and poetry — verse, the drama, the novel — should explain nature in reproducing her; the poet must pronounce sentence. He must represent human beings as they really are, and not incarnate in them an abstract principle, good or bad; that is why in this romance men indisputably good have faults, as reality shows them to us, while bad people possess at the same time some good qualities, as is almost always the case in real life.”

Tyranny knows no better use for such an author than to exile him. But Liberty can still utilize his work. Tyranny, torture Truth’s heralds as it may, cannot kill Truth itself,— nay, can only add to its vitality. Tchernychewsky is in isolation, but his glad tidings to the poor and the oppressed are spreading among the peoples of the earth, and now in this translation for the first time find their way across the ocean to enlighten our New World.

What’s To Be Done?

An Imbecile.

On the morning of the eleventh of July, 1856, the attachés of one of the principal hotels in St. Petersburg, situated near the Moscow railway station, became greatly perplexed and even somewhat alarmed. The night before, after eight o’clock, a traveller had arrived, carrying a valise, who, after having given up his passport that it might be taken to the police to be visaed, had ordered a cutlet and some tea, and then, pleading fatigue and need of sleep as a pretext, had asked that he might be disturbed no further, notifying them at the same tine to awaken him without fail at exactly eight o’clock in the morning, as he had pressing business.

As soon as he was alone, he had locked his door. For a while was heard the noise of the knife, fork, and tea-service; then all became silent again: the man doubtless had gone to sleep.

In the morning, at eight o’clock, the waiter did not fail to knock at the newcomer’s door.

But the new-comer did not respond. The waiter knocked louder, and louder yet. Still the new-comer did not respond: he probably was very tired. The waiter waited a quarter of an hour, then began again to knock and call, but with no better success. Then he went to consult the other waiters and the butler.

“May not something have happened to the traveller?”

“We must burst open the door,” he concluded.

“No,” said another, “the door can be burst open only in presence of the police.”

They decided to try once more, and with greater energy, to awaken the obstinate traveller, and, in case they should not succeed, to send for the police.

Which they had to do. While waiting for the police, they looked at each other anxiously, saying: “What can have happened?”

Towards ten o’clock the commissioner of police arrived; he began by knocking at the door himself, and then ordered the waiters to knock a last time. The same success.

“There is nothing left but to burst open the door,” said the official; “do so, my friends.”

The door yielded; they entered; the room was empty.

“Look under the bed,” said the official. At the same time, approaching the table, he saw a sheet of paper, unfolded, upon which were written these words:

“I leave at eleven o’clock in the evening and shall not return. I shall be heard on the Liteing Bridge between two and three o’clock in the morning. Suspect no one.”

“Ah! the thing is clear now! at first we did not understand,” said the official.

“What do you mean, Ivan Afanacievitch?” asked the butler.

“Give me some tea, and I will tell you.”

The story of the commissioner of police was for a long time the subject of conversations and discussions; as for the adventure itself, this was it: At half-past two in the morning, the night being extremely dark, something like a flash was seen on the Liteing Bridge, and at the same time a pistol shot was beard. The guardians of the bridge and the few people who were passing ran to the spot, but found nobody.

“It is not a murder; some one has blown his brains out,” they said; and some of the more generous offered to search the river. Kooks were brought and even a fisherman’s net; but they pulled from the water only a few pieces of wood. Of the hotly no trace, and besides the night was very dark, and much time had elapsed: the body had had time to drift out to sea.

“Go search yonder!” said a group of carpers, who maintained that there was no body and that some drunkard or practical joker had simply fired a shot and fled; “perhaps he has even mingled with the crowd, now so anxious, and is laughing at the alarm which he has caused.” These carpers were evidently progressives. But the majority, conservative, as it always is when it reasons prudently, held to the first explanation.

“A practical joker? Go to! Some one hat really blown his brains out.”

Being less numerous, the progressives were conquered. But the conquerors split at the very moment of victory.

He had blown his brains out, certainly, but why?

He was drunk,” said some.

He had dissipated his fortune,” thought others.

“Simply an imbecile!” observed somebody.

Upon this word imbecile, all agreed, even those who disputed suicide.

In short, whether it was a drunkard or a spendthrift who had blown his brains out or a practical joker who had made a pretence of killing himself (in the latter case the joke was a stupid one), he was an imbecile.

There ended the night’s adventure. At the hotel was found the proof that it was no piece of nonsense, but a real suicide.

This conclusion satisfied the conservatives especially; for, said they, it proves that we are right. If it had been only a practical joker, we might have hesitated between the terms imbecile and insolent. But to blow one’s brains out on a bridge! On a bridge, I ask you? Does one blow his brains out on a bridge? Why on a bridge? It would be stupid to do it on a bridge. Indisputably, then, he was an imbecile.

“Precisely,” objected the progressives; “does one blow his brains out on a bridge?” And they in their turn disputed the reality of the suicide.

But that same evening the hotel attachés, being summoned to the police bureau to examine a cap pierced by a ball, which had been taken from the water, identified it as the actual cap worn by the traveller of the night before.

There had been a suicide, then, and the spirit of negation and progress was once more conquered.

Yes, it was really an imbecile; but suddenly a new thought struck them: to blow one’s brains out on a bridge,— why, it is most adroit! In that way one avoids long suffering in case of a simple wound. He calculated wisely; he was prudent.

Now the mystification was complete. Imbecile and prudent!

First Consequence of the Imbecile Act.

The same day, towards eleven o’clock in the morning, in a little country-house on the island of Kamennoy,[1] a young woman sat sewing and humming a singularly bold French song:

Sons nos guenilles, nous sommes

De courageux travailleurs;

Nous voulons pour tous les hommes

Science et destins meilleurs.

Etudions, travaillons,

La force est á qui saura;

Etudions, travaillons,

L’abondance nous viendra!

Ah! ça ira! ça ira! ça ira!

Le peuple en ce jour répète:

Ah! ça ira! ça ira! ça ira!

Qui vivra verra!

Et qui de notre ignorance

Souffre donc? N’est-ce pas nous?

Qu’elle vienne, la science

Qui nous affrancbira tous!

Nous plions sous la douleur;

Mais, par la fraternité,

Nous bâterons le bonheur

De toute l’humanité.

Ah! ça ira! &c.

Faisons l’union féconde

Du travail et du savoir;

Pour être heureux, en ce monde,

S’entr’aimer est un devoir.

Instruisons-nous, aimons-nous,

Nous sommes frères et sœurs;

Travaillons chacun pour tous;

Devenons toujours meilleurs.

Ah! ça ira! &c.

Oui, pour vaincre la misère,

Instruisons-nous, travaillons;

Un paradis do la terre,

En nous aimant, nous ferons.

Travaillons, aimons, chantons,

Tous les vrais biens nous aurons;

Un jour vient on nous serons

Tous heureux, instruits, et bous.

Ah! ça ira! ça ira! ça ira!

Le peuple en ce jour répète:

Ah! ça ira! ça ira! ça ira!

Qui vivra verra!

Donc vivons!

Ça bien vite ira!

Ça viendra!

Nous tous le verrons!

The melody of this audacious song was gay; there were two or three sad notes in it, but they were concealed beneath the general character of the motive; they entirely disappeared in the refrain and in the last couplet. But such was the condition of the mind of the songstress that these two or three sad notes sounded above the others in her song. She saw this herself, started, and tried to sustain the gay notes longer and glide over the others. Vain efforts! her thought dominated her in spite of herself, and the sad notes always prevailed over the others.

It was easy to see that the young woman was trying to repress the sadness which had taken possession of her, and when, from time to time, she succeeded and the song then took its joyous pace, her work doubled in rapidity; she seemed, moreover, to be an excellent seamstress. At this moment the maid, a young and pretty person, entered.

“See, Macha,”[2] the young lady said to her, “how well I sew! I have almost finished the ruffles which I am embroidering to wear at your wedding”

“Oh! there is less work in them than in those which you desired me to embroider.”

“I readily believe it! Should not the bride be more beautifully adorned than her guests?”

“I have brought you a letter, Vera Pavlovna”

Vera Pavlovna took the letter with an air of perplexity which depicted itself in her face. The envelope bore the city stamp.

“He is then at Moscow!” she whispered,— and she hastily broke open the letter and turned pale.

“It is not possible! ...... I did not read it right. ...... The letter does not say that!” she cried, letting her arms fall by her sides.

Again she began to read. This time her eyes fixed themselves on the fatal paper, and those beautiful clear eyes became dimmer and dimmer. She let the letter fall upon her work-table, and, hiding her head in her hands, she burst into sobs.

“What have I done F What have I done?” she cried, despairingly. “What have I done?”

“Vérotchka!”[3] suddenly exclaimed a young man, hurrying into the room; “Vérotchka! What has happened to you? And why these tears?”

“Read!” . . . She handed him the letter. Vera Pavlovna sobbed no longer, but remained motionless as if nailed to her seat, and scarcely breathing.

The young man took the letter; he grew pale, his hands trembled, and bis eyes remained fixed for a long time upon the text, though it was brief. This letter was thus framed:

“I disturbed your tranquillity; I quit the scene. Do not pity me. I love you both so much that I am quite content in my resolution. Adieu.”

Absorbed for a moment in his sadness, the young man then approached the young woman, who still was motionless and in a seeming lethargy, and, taking her hand:

“Vérotchka!” . . .

But the young woman uttered a cry of terror, and, rising, as if moved by an electric force, she convulsively repulsed the young man, separating herself from him. “Back! Do not touch me! You are covered with blood! Leave me!”

She continued to recoil, making gestures of terror and waving her arms in space as if to repel an object of fear. Suddenly she staggered and sank into an arm-chair, her head in her hands.

“It is also on me, his blood! on me especially! You are not guilty . . . . it is I, I alone! What have I done? What have I done?”

And her sobs redoubled.

“Vérotchka,” said the young man, timidly; “Vérotchka, my beloved!”

“No, leave me,” she answered, with a trembling voice, as soon as she could get breath. “Do not speak, to me! In a moment you will find me calmer; leave me.” He went into his study, and sat down again at the writing-table where a quarter of an hour before he had been so calm and happy. He took up his pen, and, after the article which he had begun, he permitted himself to write: “It is in such moments that one must retain self-possession. I have will, and it will all pass over, it will all pass over. But will she bear it? Oh! it is horrible! Happiness is lost!”

“Shall we talk together now, beloved?” said an altered voice, which tried to appear firm.

“We must separate,” continued Vera Pavlovna, “we must separate! I have decided upon it. It is frightful; but it would be more frightful still to continue to live in each other’s sight. Am I not his murderer? Have I not killed him for you?”

“But, Vérotchka, it is not your fault.”

“Do not try to justify me, unless you wish me to hate you. I am guilty. Pardon me, my beloved, for taking a resolution so painful to you. To me also it is painful, but is the only one that we can take. You will soon recognize it yourself. So be it, then! I wish first to fly from this city, which would remind me too vividly of the past. The sale of my effects will afford me some resources. I will go to Tver, to Nijni,[4] I know not where, and it matters little. I will seek a chance to give singing-lessons; being in a great city, I shall probably find one; or else I will become a governess. I can always earn what is necessary. But in case I should be unable to get enough, I will appeal to you. I count then on you; and let that prove to you that you are ever dear to me. And now we must say farewell . . . . farewell forever! Go away directly; I shall be better alone; and tomorrow you can come back, for I shall be here no longer. I go to Moscow; there I will find out what city is best adapted to my purpose. I forbid your presence at the depot at the time of my departure. Farewell, then, my beloved; give me your hand that I may press it a last time before we separate forever”.

He desired to embrace her; but she thrust him back forcibly, saying:

“No! that would be an outrage upon him. Give me your hand; do you feel with what force I press it? But adieu!”

He kept her hand in his till she withdrew it, he not daring to resist.

“Enough! Go! Adieu!”

And after having encircled him with a look of ineffable tenderness, she retired with a firm step and without turning back her head.

He went about, dazed, like a drunken man, unable to find his hat, though he held it in his hand without knowing it; at last, however, he took his overcoat from the hall and started off. But he had not yet reached the gateway when he heard footsteps behind him. Doubtless it was Macha. Had she vanished?

He turned around; it was — Vera Pavlovna, who threw herself into his arms and said, embracing him with ardor:

“I could not resist, dear friend; and now farewell forever!”

She ran rapidly away, threw herself upon her bed, and burst into tears.


Love is the subject of this novel; a young woman is its principal character.

“So far good, even though the novel should be bad,” says the feminine reader; and she is right.

But the masculine reader does not praise so readily, thought in man being more intense and more developed than in woman. He says (what probably the feminine reader also thinks without considering it proper to say so, which excuses me from discussing the point with her),— the masculine reader says: “I know perfectly well that the man who is said to have blown his brains out is all right.”

I attack him on this phrase I knew, and say to him: “You do not know it, since it has not been told you. You know nothing, not even that by the way in which I have begun my novel I have made you my dupe. For have you not failed to perceive it?”

Know, then, that my first pages prove that I have a very poor opinion of the public. I have employed the ordinary trick of romancers. I have begun with dramatic scenes, taken from the middle or the end of my story, and have taken care to confuse and obscure them.

Public, you are good-natured, very good-natured, and consequently you are neither quick to see nor difficult to please. One may be sure that you will not see from the first pages whether a novel is worthy of being read. Your scent is not keen, and to aid you in deciding two things are necessary: the name of the author and such a style of writing as will produce an effect.

This is the first novel that I offer you, and you have not yet made up your mind whether or not I have talent and art (and yet this talent and art you grant liberally to so many authors!) My name does not yet attract you. I am obliged, therefore, to decoy you. Do not consider it a crime; for it is your own ingenuousness that compels me to stoop to this triviality. But now that I hold you in my hands, I can continue my story as I think proper,— that is, without subterfuge. There will be no more mystery; you will be able to foresee twenty pages in advance the climax of each situation, and I will even tell you that all will end gaily amid wine and song.

I do not desire to aid in spoiling you, kind public, you whose head is already so full of nonsense. How much useless trouble the confusion of your perceptions causes you! Truly, you are painful to look at; and yet I cannot help deriding you, the prejudices with which your head is crammed render you so base and wicked!

I am even angry with you, because you are so wicked towards men, of whom you nevertheless are a part. Why are you so wicked towards yourself? It is for your own good that I preach to you; for I desire to be useful to you, and am seeking the way. In the meantime you cry out:

“Who, then, is this insolent author, who addresses me in such a tone?”

Who am I? An author without talent who has not even a complete command of his own language. But it matters little. Read at any rate, kind public; truth is a good thing which compensates even for an author’s faults. This reading will be useful to you, and you will experience no deception, since I have warned you that you will find in my romance neither talent nor art, only the truth.

For the rest, my kind public, however you may love to read between the lines, I prefer to tell you all. Because I have confessed that I have no shadow of talent and that my romance will lack in the telling, do not conclude that I am inferior to the story-tellers whom you accept and that this book is beneath their writings. That is not the purpose of my explanation. I merely mean that my story is very weak, so far as execution is concerned, in comparison with the works produced by real talent. But, as for the celebrated works of your favorite authors, you may, even in point of execution, put it on their level; you may even place it above them; for there is more art here than in the works aforesaid, you may be sure. And now, public, thank me! And since you love so well to bend the knee before him who disdains you, salute me!

Happily, scattered through your throngs, there exist, O public, persons, more and more numerous, whom I esteem. If I have just been impudent, it was because I spoke only to the vast majority of you. Before the persons to whom I have just referred, on the contrary, I shall be modest and even timid. Only, with them, long explanations are useless; I know in advance that we shall get along together. Men of research and justice, intelligence and goodness, it is but yesterday that you arose among us; and already your number is great and ever greater. If you were the whole public, I should not need to write; if you did not exist, I could not write. But you are a part of the public, without yet being the whole public; and that is why it is possible, that is why it is necessary, for me to write.

Chapter First.

The Life of Vera Pavlovna with her Parents.


The education of Vera Pavlovna was very ordinary, and there was nothing peculiar in her life until she made the acquaintance of Lopoukhoff, the medical student.

Vera Pavlovna grew up in a fine house, situated on the Rue Gorokhovala between the Rue Sadovaia and the Sémenovsky Bridge. This house is now duly labelled with a number, but in 1852, when numbers were not in use to designate the houses of any given street, it bore this inscription: —

House of Ivan Zakharovitch Storechnikoff, present Councillor of State.

So said the inscription, although Ivan Zakharovitch Storechnikoff died in 1837. After that, according to the legal title-deeds, the owner of the house was his son Mikhaïl Ivanytch. But the tenants knew that Mikhaïl Ivanytch was only the son of the mistress, and that the mistress of the house was Anna Petrovna.

The house was what it still is, large, with two carriage-ways, four flights of steps from the street, and three interior court-yards.

Then (as is still the case today) the mistress of the house and her son lived on the first and naturally the principal floor. Anna Petrovna has remained a beautiful lady, and Mikhaïl Ivanytch is to-day, as he was in 1852, an elegant and handsome officer. Who lives now in the dirtiest of the innumerable flats of the first court, fifth door on the right? I do not know. But in 1852 it was inhabited by the steward of the house, Pavel Konstantinytch Rosalsky, a robust and fine-looking man. His wife, Maria Alexevna, a slender person, tall and possessed of a strong constitution, his young and beautiful daughter (Vera Pavlovna), and his son Fédia, nine years old, made up the family.

Besides his position of steward, Pavel Konstantinytch was employed as chief deputy in I know not which ministerial bureau. As an employee he had no perquisites; his perquisites as steward were very moderate; for Pavel Konstantinytch, as he said to himself, had a conscience, which he valued at least as highly as the benevolence of the proprietor. In short, the worthy steward had amassed in fourteen years about ten thousand roubles, of which but three thousand had come from the proprietor’s pocket. The rest was derived from a little business peculiarly his own: Pavel Konstantinytch combined with his other functions that of a pawn-broker. Maria Alexevna also had her little capital: almost five thousand roubles, she told the gossips, but really much more. She had begun fifteen years before by the sale of a fur-lined pelisse, a poor lot of furniture, and an old coat left her by her brother, a deceased government employee.

These brought her one hundred and fifty roubles, which she lost no time in lending on security. Much bolder than her husband, she braved risks for the sake of greater gains. More than once she had been caught. One day a sharper pawned to her for five roubles a stolen passport, and Maria Alexevna not only lost the five roubles, but had to pay fifteen to get out of the scrape. Another time a swindler, in consideration of a loan of twenty roubles, left with her a gold watch, the proceeds of a murder followed by robbery, and Maria Alexevna had to pay heavily this time to get clear. But if she suffered losses which her more prudent husband had no occasion to fear, on the other hand she saw her profits rolling up more rapidly.

To make money she would stop at nothing.

One day — Vera Pavlovna was still small and her mother did not mistrust her ears — a somewhat strange event occurred. Vérotchka, indeed, would not have understood it, had not the cook, beaten by Maria Alexevna, been eager to explain to the little girl, in a very intelligible fashion, the matter in question.

Matroena was often beaten for indulging the passion of love,— notwithstanding which she always had a black eye given her really by her lover.

Maria Alexevna passed over this black eye because cooks of that character work for less money. Having said this, we come to the story.

A lady as beautiful as she was richly dressed stopped for some time at the house of Maria Alexevna.

This lady received the visits of a very fine-looking gentleman, who often gave bonbons to Vérotchka and even made her a present of two illustrated books. The engravings;in one of these books represented animals and cities; as for the other, Maria Alexevna took it away from her daughter as soon as the visitor had gone, and the only time when Vérotchka saw the engravings was on that same day when he showed them to her.

While the lady remained, an unusual tranquillity prevailed in the apartments of the pawn-brokers; Maria Alexevna neglected the closet (of which she always carried the key) in which the decanter of brandy was kept; she whipped neither Matroena nor Vérotchka, and even ceased her continual vociferations. But one night the little girl was awakened and frightened by the cries of the tenant and by a great stir and uproar going on in the house. In the morning, nevertheless, Maria Alexevna, in better humor than ever, opened the famous closet and said between two draughts of brandy:

“Thank God! all has gone well.” Then she called Matroena, and instead of abusing or beating her, as was generally the case when she had been drinking, she offered her a glass of brandy, saying:

“Go on! Drink! You too worked well.”

After which she went to embrace her daughter and lie down. As for the tenant, she cried no more, did not even leave her room, and was not slow in taking her departure.

Two days after she had gone a captain of police, accompanied by two of his officers, came and roundly abused Maria Alexevna, who, it must be allowed, took no pains on her part, as the phrase goes, to keep her tongue in her pocket. Over and over again she repeated;

“I do not know what yon mean. If you wish to find out, you will see by the books of the establishment that the woman who was here is named Savastianoff, one of my acquaintances, engaged in business at Pskow. And that is all.”

After having redoubled his abuse, the captain of police finally went away.

That is what Vérotchka saw at the age of eight.

At the age of nine she received an explanation of the affair from Matroena. For the rest, there had been but one case of the kind in the house. Sometimes other adventures of a different sort, but not very numerous.

One day, as Vérotchka, then a girl of ten years, was accompanying her mother as usual to the old clothes shop, at the corner of the Rue Gorokhovaia and the Rue Sadovaia she was struck a blow on the neck, dealt her doubtless to make her heed this observation of her mother:

“Instead of sauntering, why do you not cross yourself as you go by the church? Do you not see that all respectable people do so?”

At twelve Vérotchka was sent to boarding-school, and received in addition lessons in piano-playing from a teacher who, though a great drunkard, was a worthy man and an excellent pianist, but, on account of his drunkenness, had to content himself with a very moderate reward for his services.

At fourteen Vérotchka did the sewing for the whole family, which, to be sure, was not a large one.

When she was fifteen, such remarks as this were daily addressed to her:

“Go wash your face cleaner! It is as black as a gypsy’s. But you will wash it in vain; you have the face of a scarecrow; you are like nobody else.”

The little girl, much mortified at her dark complexion, gradually came to consider herself very homely.

Nevertheless, her mother, who formerly covered her with nothing but rags, began to dress her up. When Vérotchka in fine array followed her mother to church, she said sadly to herself:

“Why this finery? For a gypsy’s complexion like mine a dress of serge is as good as a dress of silk. This luxury would become others better. It must be very nice to be pretty! How I should like to be pretty!”

When she was sixteen, Vérotchka stopped taking music lessons, and became a piano-teacher herself in a boarding-school. In a short time Maria Alexevna found her other lessons.

Soon Vérotchka’a mother stopped calling her gypsy and scare-crow; she dressed her even with greater care, and Matroena (this was a third Matroena, who, like her predecessors, always had a black eye and sometimes a swollen cheek), Matroena told Vérotchka that the chief of her father’s bureau desired to ask her hand in marriage, and that this chief was a grave man, wearing a cross upon his neck.

In fact, the employees of the ministry had noticed the advances of the chief of the department towards his subordinate. And this chief said to one of his colleagues that he intended to many and that the dowry was of little consequence, provided the woman was beautiful; he added that Pavel Konstantinytch was an excellent official.

What would have happened no one knows; but, while the chief of the department was in this frame of mind, an important event occurred:

The son of the mistress appeared at the steward’s to say that his mother desired Pavel Konstantinytch to bring her several samples of wall paper, as she wished to newly furnish her apartments. Orders of this nature were generally transmitted by the major-domo. The intention was evident, and would have been to people of less experience than Vérotchka’s parents. Moreover, the son of the proprietor remained more than half an hour to take tea.

The next day Maria Alexevna gave her daughter a bracelet which had not been redeemed and ordered new dresses for her. Vérotchka much admired both the bracelet and the dresses, and was given further occasion to rejoice by her mother’s purchase for her at last of same glossy boots of admirable elegance. These toilet expenses were not lost, for Mikhail Ivanytch came every day to the steward’s and found — it goes without saying — in Vérotchka’s conversation a peculiar charm, which — and this too goes without saying — was not displeasing to the steward and his wife. At least the latter gave her daughter long instructions, which it is useless to detail.

“Dress yourself, Vérotchka,” she said to her one evening, on rising from the table; “I have prepared a surprise for you. We are going to the opera, and I have taken a box in the second tier, where there are none but generals. All this is for you, little stupid. For it I do not hesitate to spend my last copeeks, and your father on his side scatters his substance in foolish expenditures for your sake. To the governess, to the boarding-school, to the piano-teacher, what a sum we have paid! You know nothing of all that, ingrate that you are! You have neither soul nor sensibilities.”

Maria Alexevna said nothing further; for she no longer abused her daughter, and, since the reports about the chief of the department, had even ceased to beat her.

So they went to the opera. After the first act the son of the mistress came in, followed by two friends, one of whom, dressed as a civilian, was very thin and very polite, while the other, a soldier, inclined to stoutness and had simple manners. Mikhail Ivanytch, I say, came into the box occupied by Vérotchka and her parents.

Without further ceremony, after the customary salutations, they sat down and began to converse in low tones in French, Mikhail Ivanytch and the civilian especially; the soldier talked little.

[To be continued.]


[1] An island in the vicinity of St. Petersburg, full of country-houses, where citizens of St. Petersburg go to spend their summers.

[2] Macha is the diminutive of Marla.

[3] Verotchka is the diminutive of Vera.

[4] Nijni Novgorod.

“A free man is one who enjoys the use of his reason and his faculties; who is neither blinded by passion, not hindered or driven by oppression, not deceived by erroneous opinions.” — Proudhon.

Taking a Fresh Start.

My readers, when we parted last December, I told you that I should try to meet you next in a twelve-page weekly. I find that at present I cannot compass that. But from this forth Liberty will greet you fortnightly, in form twice as large as of old,— eight pages instead of four. The four outside pages will be kept as nearly as possible like the original Liberty, to which so many have become almost lovingly attached. The inside pages will be given up to interesting serial stories of a radical tendency; and to single essays or short serial essays treating the various problems with which Liberty deals at greater length than has been possible heretofore in these columns. In the present issue appear the first instalment of Tchernychewsky’s wonderful novel, “What’s To Be Done?” which will run through some twenty-five issues, and a crushing letter from the veteran Lysander Spooner to Senator Bayard. Better than all, I shall henceforth have the earnest co-operation of A. P. Kelly, a young journalist whose brilliant articles in some of the most prominent daily newspapers of the country have attracted attention far and wide. For two or three years he has been studying the philosophy of Liberty, and, as a natural result, has become an enthusiastic believer in it. To its support he now brings a finely-equipped brain, a noble heart, and a blistering pen. Do any of you remember “Max,” whom I used to quote so frequently in Liberty? “Max” and Mr. Kelly are one and the same. But I need not introduce him further. His articles in this issue speak for him much better than I can. The editorial writers for Liberty will hereafter speak to you in the first person singular over their signatures. The editorial “we” will be abandoned. This will encourage independence of thought and expression, and will lead people to see that the articles are only the words of men talking to men, to be taken for what they are worth and judged on their intrinsic merits, and not the authoritative utterances of some mysterious oracle, to be accepted without question.

I am able to carry out this programme through the financial aid of generous friends, one in especial. To him and all I give my heartfelt thanks. But they should not be made to bear this burden long. The growing band of Liberty’s subscribers should consider themselves the elect, chosen for a mission, in which each should do his share. Therefore I suggest to each of you that, in renewing your subscriptions, the price of which hereafter will be one dollar a year instead of fifty cents, you pay an extra fifty cents, one dollar, two dollars, five dollars, or whatever you can spare in addition to the specific sum charged. If you will all do something of this kind, Liberty in a year or two will need no further aid, but will stand firmly on her own feet. Now let us to work!

All unexpired subscriptions will be completed in each case on the receipt of just half as many issues of the enlarged paper as the subscriber was entitled to of the smaller paper at the time of the change.

Socialism: What It Is.

“Do you like the word socialism?” said a lady to me the other day; “I fear I do not; somehow I shrink when I hear it. It is associated with so much that is bad! Ought we to keep it?”

The lady who asked this question is an earnest Anarchist, a firm friend of Liberty, and — it is almost superfluous to add — highly intelligent. Her words voice the feeling of many. But after all it is only a feeling, and will not stand the test of thought. “Yes,” I answered, “it is a glorious word, much abused, violently distorted, stupidly misunderstood, but expressing better than any other the purpose of political and economic progress, the aim of the Revolution in this century, the recognition of the great truth that Liberty and Equality, through the law of Solidarity, will cause the welfare of each to contribute to the welfare of all. So good a word cannot be spared, must not be sacrificed, shall not be stolen.”

How can it be saved? Only by lifting it out of the confusion which obscures it, so that all may see it clearly and definitely, and what it fundamentally means. Some writers make socialism inclusive of all efforts to ameliorate social conditions. Proudhon is reputed to have said something of the kind. However that may be, the definition seems too broad. Etymologically it is not unwarrantable, but derivatively the word has a more technical and definite meaning.

Today (pardon the paradox!) society is fundamentally anti-social. The whole so-called social fabric rests on privilege and power, and is disordered and strained in every direction by the inequalities that necessarily result therefrom. The welfare of each, instead of contributing to that of all, as it naturally should and would, almost invariably detracts from that of all. Wealth is made by legal privilege a hook with which to filch from labor’s pockets. Every man who gets rich thereby makes his neighbor poor. The better off one is, the worse off the rest are. As Ruskin says, “every grain of calculated Increment to the rich is balanced by its mathematical equivalent of Decrement to the poor. The Laborer’s Deficit is precisely equal to the Capitalist’s Efficit.”

Now, socialism wants to change all this. Socialism says that what’s one man’s meat must no longer be another’s poison; that no man shall be able to add to his riches except by labor; that in adding to his riches by labor alone no man makes another man poorer; that on the contrary every man thus adding to his riches makes every other man richer; that increase and concentration of wealth through labor tend to increase, cheapen, and vary production; that every increase of capital in the hands of the laborer tends, in the absence of legal monopoly, to put more products, better products, cheaper products, and a greater variety of products within the reach of every man who works; and that this fact means the physical, mental, and moral perfecting of mankind, and the realization of human fraternity. Is not that glorious? Shall a word that means all that be cast aside simply because some have tried to wed it with authority? By no means. The man who subscribes to that, whatever he may think himself, whatever he may call himself, however bitterly he may attack the thing which he mistakes for socialism, is himself a Socialist, and the man who subscribes to its opposite, and acts upon its opposite, however benevolent he may be, however wealthy he may be, however pious he may be, whatever his station in society, whatever his standing in the Church, whatever his position in the State, is not a Socialist, but a Thief. For there are at bottom but two classes — the Socialists and the Thieves. Socialism, practically, is war upon usury in all its forms, the great Anti-Theft Movement of the nineteenth century; and Socialists are the only people to whom the preachers of morality have no right or occasion to cite the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal!” That commandment is Socialism’s flag. Only not as a commandment, but as a law of nature. Socialism does not order; it prophesies. It does not say: “Thou shalt not steal!” It says: “When all men have Liberty, thou wilt not steal.”

Why, then, does my lady questioner shrink when she hears the word socialism? I will tell her. Because a large number of people, who see the evils of usury and are desirous of destroying them, foolishly imagine they can do so by authority, and accordingly are trying to abolish privilege by centering all production and activity in the State to the destruction of competition and its blessings, to the degradation of the individual, and to the stupefaction of society. They are well-meaning but misguided people, and their efforts are bound to prove abortive. Their influence is mischievous principally in this,— that a large number of other people, who have not yet seen the evils of usury and do not know that Liberty will destroy them, but nevertheless earnestly believe in Liberty for Liberty’s sake, are led to mistake this effort to make the State the be-all and end-all of society for the whole of socialism and the only socialism, and, rightly horrified at it, to hold it up as such to the deserved scorn of mankind. But the very reasonable and just criticisms of the individualists of this stripe upon State Socialism, when analyzed, are found to be directed, not against the Socialism, but against the State. So far Liberty is with them. But Liberty insists on Socialism nevertheless,— on true Socialism, Anarchistic Socialism, the prevalence on earth of Liberty, Equality, and Solidarity. From that my lady questioner will never shrink.

The Sin of Herbert Spencer.

Liberty welcomes and criticises in the same breath the series of papers by Herbert Spencer on “The New Toryism,” “The Coming Slavery,” “The Sins of Legislators,” &c., now running in the “Popular Science Monthly” and the English “Contemporary Review.” They are very true, very important, and very misleading. They are true for the most part in what they say, and false and misleading in what they fail to say. Mr. Spencer convicts legislators of undeniable and enormous sins in meddling with and curtailing and destroying the people’s rights. Their sins are sins of commission. But Mr. Spencer’s sin of omission is quite as grave. He is one of those persons inferred to in the editorial preceding this who are making a wholesale onslaught on Socialism as the incarnation of the doctrine of State omnipotence carried to its highest power. And I am not sure that he is quite honest in this. I begin to be a little suspicious of him. It seems as if he had forgotten the teachings of his earlier writings, and had become a champion of the capitalistic class. It will be noticed that in these later articles, amid his multitudinous illustrations (of which he is as prodigal as ever) of the evils of legislation, he in every instance cites some law passed, ostensibly at least, to protect labor, alleviate suffering, or promote the people’s welfare. He demonstrates beyond dispute the lamentable failure in this direction. But never once does he call attention to the far more deadly and deep-seated evils growing out of the innumerable laws creating privilege and sustaining monopoly. You must not protect the weak against the strong, he seems to say, but freely supply all the weapons needed by the strong to oppress the weak. He is greatly shocked that the rich should’be directly taxed to support the poor, but that the poor should be indirectly taxed and bled to make the rich richer does not outrage his delicate sensibilities in the least. Poverty is increased by the poor laws, says Mr. Spencer. Granted; but what about the rich laws that caused and still cause the poverty to which the poor laws add? That is by far the more important question; yet Mr. Spencer tries to blink it out of sight.

A very acute criticism of Mr. Spencer’s position has been made recently before the Manhattan Liberal Club by Stephen Pearl Andrews. Judging from the report in the New York “Truth Seeker,” it is the best thing that Mr. Andrews has said in some time, and Liberty extends him her warmest thanks and congratulations. Room must be found for his remarks before long in these columns. He shows that Mr. Spencer has never once used the word “justice”; that he is not the radical laissez faire philosopher which he pretends to be; that the only true believers in laissez faire are the Anarchists; that individualism must be supplemented by the doctrines of equity and courtesy; and that, while State Socialism is just as dangerous and tyrannical as Mr. Spencer pictures it, “there is a higher and nobler form of Socialism which is not only not slavery, but which is our only means of rescue from all sorts and degrees of slavery.” All this is straight to the mark,— telling thrusts which Mr. Spencer can never parry.

But the English philosopher is doing good, after all. His disciples are men of independent mind, more numerous every day, who accept his fundamental truths and carry them to their logical conclusions. A notable instance is Auberon Herbert, formerly a member of the House of Commons but now retired from political life. He is, I believe, a member of the British nobility, but his wealth and position do not obscure his vision. While an enthusiastic adherent of the Spencerian philosophy, he is last outstripping his master. In a recent essay entitled “A Politician in Sight of Haven,” written, as the London “Spectator” says, with an unsurpassable charm of style, Mr. Herbert explodes the majority lie, ridicules physical force as a solution of social problems, strips government of every function except the police and recognizes even that only as an evil of brief necessity, and, in conclusion, proposes the adoption of voluntary taxation with a calmness and confidence which must have taken Mr. Spencer’s breath away. To be sure, Mr Herbert is as violent as his master against socialism, but in his case only because he honestly supposes that compulsory socialism is the only socialism, and not at all from any sympathy with legal monopoly or capitalistic privilege in any form. Liberty will begin the publication of this essay in an early issue.

The Curse of California.

The railroad question in California has developed, to an extent unusual in so young a community, the evils and social disorders which grow out of all attempts to govern mankind with formulas and paper-constitution attorneyisms. Through the authority of the government, three or four men have been enabled to appropriate millions of acres of land and steal the labor of thousands of men in the building of railroads. Having stolen the results of this labor, they are protected in the enjoyment of their plunder by legislation and given an entire monopoly of the business of carrying in order that they may extort tribute from the people of California. Without the aid of the railroad the farmer cannot get his products to market and the trader cannot get his wares to his customers. The three or four men who own the railroad take advantage of their peculiar power to compel the farmer and the merchant to share with them their profits. There is no pretence on the part of these railroad robbers that charges are based upon the cost of service. Their rule is to charge all the traffic will bear. The result is that they have accumulated millions upon millions, and ground the laborer down until he is afraid to compete with the Chinaman for day wages in a State where there is room for half the population of the United States to live and work.

The Californians see this clearly enough, but, when it comes to putting a stop to the robbing, they grope in utter darkness for the remedy. Having been taught by the politicians from early childhood that pitiful lie that the ballot is the righter of all wrongs, they put their trust in a representative government and expect authority to stay the hand of the robber monopoly. Year after year are they sold by their representatives, and yet they do not see that the ballot is a sham. With superstitious reverence for whatever is done in the name of authority, these plundered and betrayed people submit to the laws passed by rascals who break their pledges and vote directly opposite to the way in which they are instructed to vote. It never appears to occur to the people that they are under no obligation to abide or be bound by the actions of these so-called representatives. When one legislature, railroad commission, or governor sells them out to the railroad banditti, they manifest their displeasure by electing another, and thereby putting themselves upon the auction block to be sold again. The best remedy for all these things which suggests itself to the Californian mind is the hanging of a legislator or two; but hanging is bad business, and changes none of the conditions of the problem. The only true solution of the problem lies in refusal to submit to the dictates of lawmakers or to respect the privileges conferred by government upon Messrs. Stanford, Huntington, and Crocker.

Anarchy in Alaska.

“But what is to prevent people from stealing, fighting, and murdering, if you don’t have a government?” That is the question which invariably occurs to one who hears of Anarchy for the first time,— yes, to many who hear the pleas of Liberty for the hundredth time and understand them not. Explaining that men are not born thieves and assassins, but that stealing, quarreling, and killing are fostered by authority and encouraged by law, is a labor of Sisyphus. It is useless to ask one of these believers in the total depravity of human nature if he would leave his work and turn burglar were he not restrained by fear of the law. He invariably says: “Of course not; you and I would not do those things, but there are others who would. Just look at the crimes committed even now in spite of the law, and see the class of people who live in the worst quarters of our great cities. Do you want to turn them loose with no restraint upon their passions?” It is hard to answer such an argument, because the answer involves the demonstration of all the truths upon which the idea of Liberty is founded, and, unless one sees clearly the justice of individual sovereignty, he can understand nothing of the answer. He will argue in a circle and end where he started, with thanking God that he is not as other men are and deploring the innate and invincible wickedness of the other men. It is clear to me that injustice is the cause of all crime, and that the idea of authority is at the bottom of all social injustice; but I find it difficult to make these things clear to one who persists in regarding “justice” and “authority” as one and the same thing. If I should have the mischance to find a man so dull as to be unable to detect the difference between water and fire, doubtless I should be quite unable to convince him by logic that water will put out fire. But it might be of some benefit to his understanding, should I take him to see the engines play upon a burning house.

Perhaps when our bourgeois friend sees that people do exist peaceably without the restraints of authority, he may admit that human nature is not essentially and incurably bad. Lieutenant Ray, who was in command at the Arctic colony on Point Barrow, tells some strange things about two tribes of natives living in that neighborhood. Neither tribe holds allegiance to any chief or ruler. No congresses or legislatures have as yet broken in upon the rude mode of living. They are Anarchists in the full sense of the word. Each man is his own chief, and, strange as it may seem, Lieutenant Ray pronounces them the best governed and happiest people in the world. There appears to be no clashing of interests among them, and no bully has ever yet come to the front and bulldozed the tribe by asserting that might made right. Fighting and quarrelling are unknown. Ray says he never saw a child punished in any form, and yet he reports the children as well-behaved, modest, and honest. As high as twenty-five children have visited the station at one time, and their deportment would be such that he could not help but notice the striking contrast between them and the children who had all the advantages of civilization. However small the child might be, it never intruded itself into uninvited places. No matter how many tools, articles of clothing, or provisions were scattered around, the lieutenant never saw them touch a thing, much less try to appropriate or steal them. If anything was given a child, it showed its appreciation thereat, sometimes in words, but more often in smiles, and by informing its playfellows that he or she had been shown especial favors by the great white captain. The only blow Ray ever saw struck in these tribes was by a husband, who boxed his wife’s ears for supposed infidelity. Thieving is seldom known among the men or women of the tribes, and, when it does occur, there is no punishment for the crime. Possession appears to be nine points of law with them. A police court would soon become bankrupt there. Neither tribe appears to have any marriage ceremony. If the man is willing and the woman also, there is no legal impediment, and the twain are as one.

These Alaskans are benighted heathen; the light of the gospel has never illumined their unregenerate souls. Christian civilization has never extended its beneficent influence over their inhospitable land. Education, that bourgeois Balm of Gilead, has never been applied to their social system. They do not even belong to the better element. They are primitive men and women living under natural law and restrained by no paper constitutions nor attorney formulas. And yet, O my authority-worshipping, Pharisaical friend, these poor, ignorant heathen neither lie, nor steal, nor murder, nor think themselves better than their neighbors. Do you think justice can reign nowhere on the face of this planet outside of the Arctic circle?

A Lesson to Apostates.

Never in the history of agrarian movements was a man crowned with greater opportunities or with more potent logic than Michael Davitt, the founder of the Land League. Acting at first upon the verdict of his own native common sense, he walked forth with ever firmer and heavier tread heralding to the galled and disinherited tenants of Ireland the great truths that access to the soil is the common right of all, that usury is theft, and that the most grinding and immoral usury-tax of all is rent.

Armed with these potent inspirations and with the courage to give them voice, Davitt soon emerged from comparative obscurity to be the most “dangerous” man in Europe. Had he stood on his own individuality, rested his laurels solely upon the merits of truth and passive resistance, and ignored such truckling political frauds as Charles Stuart Parnell, he might have developed a bloodless revolt against rent tribute such as the world never before witnessed.

But scarcely did we see him mounted upon the radical wave that had begun to sweep home upon landlordism before he showed signs of that fatal weakness which stamped him a man inferior to the situation. Awed by the linkage and political glamor of Parnell, he began to barter away his integrity in a ridiculous and dishonest attempt to show that there was really no essential difference between himself and the latter, even condescending to the pitiable stultification of elevating Parnell to the first place by right and merit in the leadership of Ireland’s cause.

It was while in this pasty and pliable condition that his real destroyer slipped in upon him, and frittered out what was left of mental sanity and integrity in poor Davitt. That man was Henry George, fresh from the capture of another deluded victim, Patrick Ford. Singular it is that Davitt and Ford, the authors and soul of the glorious Land League movement which culminated in the cry of “Pay No More Rent!” should have become so easy prey, body and soul, to the monstrous absurdities of George. But such was fate, and as a result Davitt is to-day ready in disgust to drop out of sight into exile, Ford is in a sickly sweat between somewhere and nowhere on the economic fence, and George himself is beginning to realize the utter failure of his silly scheme as the victims gradually wake up to a sober second thought.

The late pontifical speech of Parnell at Drogheda, in which he made hash of what was left of Davitt and threw it into the political swill-tub, is painful reading in view of the lingering sympathy which clings to Davitt and the contemptible shallowness and stealthy political cunning of Parnell, Yet whoever will read his speech will see that the career of Davitt, in sucking in the Henry George bait with a gulp and vomiting up all that made the Land League possible, lays him utterly helpless under Parnell’s political scalpel, and logically bars him from any manner of affiliation with any branch of the recognized Irish movement.

When this fatal apostasy of Davitt and Patrick Ford appeared at a critical juncture, the dearest and deepest friends of both, foreseeing the inevitable result, attempted to save them by showing up the monstrous fallacies of George in the columns of the “Irish World.” They were deliberately barred out, while praises of George filled from week to week the columns formerly headed by Davitt’s old Land League cry of “Pay No More Rent!” To-day, with George come home in failure to roost and Davitt banished from the Irish movement, the editor cf the “Irish World” may well indulge in some profitable reflections upon the dangers of swallowing with a gulp patent economic blubber, and then rashly fortifying himself against an antidote by the illiberal device of barring out honest criticism.

A Second Letter to Thomas F. Bayard,

Challenging His Right, and That of All Other So-called Senators and Representatives in Congress, to Exercise Any Legislative Power Whatever over the People of the United States.

To Thomas F. Bayard of Delaware:

Sir,— In your speech at Brooklyn, N.Y., on the 5th of April last, in response to the toast, “The Supreme Law of the Land,” you indulged in this astonishing flight of unveracity:

“Room for His majesty! Room for His majesty! Whose voice is the conscience of the American people, and whole throne is in the American heart! I speak now of the Supreme Law of this Land! What is it? It is liberty, clad in the words, and manifested in the forms, of the written charter of our government, ordained to secure it [liberty] for us, and for our posterity! I mean by this, that the Supreme Law of this Land, declared to be so in the charter itself, [What better proof can be required that it is the Supreme Law, than its own declaration that it is so!] is, by its observance, the true and only means of maintaining liberty in this land! Neglect it, forget it, disregard it, disobey it, weary of its commands, and you neglect, you disregard, and you will lose, liberty itself! Obey it, cherish it, studiously respect it, and liberty will flourish, and bless us and our posterity! I don’t think that these simple conditions can need more than this simple statement. [Oh, yes, they need a little proof.] They are sublime in their simplicity! They are incalculable in their value! They are mighty in their truth!” [1]

Don’t you think, Sir, that your own “simplicity” is a little “sublime,” when you tell us that this paper, the constitution, which nobody ever signed, which few people ever read, which the great body of the people never saw, and about whose meaning no two persons ever agreed, is “the Supreme Law of the Land?” That it is “the conscience of the American people?” That it is the voice of liberty itself? and that “its observance is the true and only means of maintaining liberty in this land?

Yet again and again, throughout your speech, you repeat the idea, that this so-called constitution, which nobody ever signed, which few people ever read, which the great body of the people never saw, and about whose meaning no two persons ever agreed, is “The Supreme Law of this Land!

Sir, where did this wonderful constitution come from, that you should describe it as “The Supreme Law of this Land?” Was it let down from the skies by a higher than human power? Was it a revelation from a higher than human wisdom? Did it originate with any body who had any rightful authority to impose it upon the people of this country? Was it not concocted in secret conclave, by some forty men, who had no more authority over the people of this country, than any other forty men in it? Was it originally sanctioned by any body but a few white, male adults, who had prescribed amounts of property? And who, by virtue of that property, presumed to announce themselves as “We, the people of the United States;” and to “ordain and establish” this constitution on their own authority alone? Was it not practically a conspiracy, on their part, to impose their arbitrary will upon a or, ignorant, and scattered people, who were too weak to resist?

And is not this constitution kept in operation today solely by men – not more than one-fifth of the whole people – who give their votes in secret (by secret ballot), solely because they dare not give them in a way to make themselves personally responsible for the acts of their agents? And what are these votes, given in secret, interpreted to mean, other than that the whole fifty millions of people – four-fifths of whom are allowed no voice in the matter – surrender all their natural rights to life, liberty, and property into the hands of some four hundred men, who are to be held to no responsibility whatever for the disposal they make of them?

Sir, this declaration of yours, that the constitution (so-called) is “the Supreme Law of this Land,” is utterly, flagrantly, shamefully false. Justice alone is the Supreme Law of this land, and of all other lands. And if you do not know it, your ignorance is so dense as to be pitiable. And if the audience that applauded your speech do not know that justice itself is the only supreme law of this, or any other, land, their ignorance is also so dense as to be pitiable.

And it is not because your “Supreme Law of the Land,” the constitution – but because the supreme law of justice is “neglected,” “forgotten,” “disregarded,” and “disobeyed,” that our liberty is lost; or, rather, never had an existence. And if you and your audience do not know that such is the truth, your and their ignorance is certainly deplorable.

And let me repeat, what I have heretofore said to you, that justice is a science to be learned, like any other science, and not any thing that can be made, unmade, or altered, by constitutions, or Congresses, or any other human power. This is a fact, of which you and other legislators, as you call yourselves, are strangely oblivious.

In your speech, you attempted to picture to your audience how “the loss of liberty,” in this land, and all the direful consequences of that loss, result from “the unbridled will of a congressional majority.”

But for some reason, or another, you did not see fit to tell your audience where this “unbridled will of a congressional majority” had its origin. Perhaps you had forgotten it; although I had pointedly reminded you of it long ago. It will do you no harm, and may perhaps do you good, to be reminded of it again. Let me then say to you gain, that all this “unbridled will of a congressional majority,” which you hold up to our view as the sole cause of our “loss of liberty,” had its origin – its fountain head، in that very constitution – that same “Supreme Law of this Land” – “whose observance,” you tell us, “is the true and only means of maintaining liberty in this land!

In proof that such is the truth, I give you again the very words of the constitution itself. They are these:

For any speech, or debate, [or vote] in either house, they [the senators and representatives] shall not be questioned [held to any legal accountability] in any other place. Const., Art. I, Sec. 6.

Here you see, Sir, that this “unbridled will of a congressional majority,” of which you profess such a horror, is simply the legislative will of men, who, by your “Supreme Law,” are made wholly irresponsible for the laws they make.

Do you expect men to act otherwise than according to their “unbridled will,” when you have put into their hands all power over the property, liberty, and lives of their fellowmen, and guaranteed them against all responsibility for the disposal they make of them?

Do you not know that this freedom from all responsibility for their acts was guaranteed to them, solely that they might dispose of the property, liberty, and lives of their fellowmen, according to their own “unbridled will?”

Plainly the one only motive, purpose, or effect of this provision of the constitution is to let loose upon the people “the unbridled will of a congressional majority;” that very “unbridled will,” which you denounce, and truly denounce, as fatal to liberty.

Is it possible that you had forgotten this provision of the constitution, when you declared that “its observance” was “the true and only means of maintaining liberty in this land?”

Have you yourself ever read the constitution; or are you as ignorant of it as are the people generally, who submit to it?

If you have ever read the constitution, what do you mean by telling us that it authorizes any legislation at all, except such as “the unbridled will of a congressional majority” may choose to enact? Can you tell us what other legislation it authorizes? Or what other purpose it has than simply to organize, and give effect to, “the unbridled will of a congressional majority?”

And yet you extol it, and fall down and worship it, as if it were the very oracle, the very soul, of liberty itself?

Sir, when you declare the constitution to be “the Supreme Law of this land,” and that “its observance is the true and only means of maintaining liberty in this land,” do you not see that you are saying, in effect, that abject submission to “the unbridled will of a congressional majority” is “the true and only means of maintaining liberty in this land?”

Do you not see that you are declaring in the same breath, that abject submission to “the unbridled will; of a congressional majority” is both liberty and slavery? And, consequently, that under the constitution, liberty and slavery are one and the same thing?

Have you lost your senses, that you can talk in this absurd and self-contradictory manner?

You talk of the “insolence” of this “unbridled will of a congressional majority,” as if it were something at which you have reason to be surprised, amazed, or indignant. But are you really such a simpleton as to expect any thing but “insolence” from “the unbridled will” of men intrusted with unlimited power, and guaranteed against all responsibility for their acts?

You seem to be astonished at the recent decision of the supreme court, giving congress all powers not expressly prohibited; and especially all such [unlimited] powers as are exercised by “other civilized governments.” But that decision is easily accounted for – in this wise: That court had read the constitution, and sworn to support it, (art. 1, sec. 6, as well as the rest); and they saw that it authorized no legislation at all, except such as “the unbridled will of a congressional majority” might choose to enact; that it authorized no government at all, except one by “the unbridled will of a congressional majority.”

That court saw, too, that it was itself created and sustained only by “the unbridled will of a congressional majority;” that it owed its very existence to, and was a mere dependent creature of, that “unbridled will;” that it was suffered to exist for no other purpose than to give its sanction to that “unbridled will;” and that, so soon as it should cease to perform that function, its occupation would be gone.

Are you so blind as not to see all this? Why, then, are you surprised that this dependent creature should fail to attempt the absurd and impossible task of imposing restraints upon “the unbridled will” of its own creator, sustainer, and final judge? If that court ever should attempt to impose restraints upon “the unbridled will” of its creator, which do you think would be likely to get the worst of it, the creature or the creator?

But what is your remedy for “our loss of liberty?” and for our subjection to “the unbridled will of a congressional majority?”

Let the nation now open all its ears, and hear your remedy!

It is “State Rights! State Rights!”

And what are State Rights? Are they any thing else than subjection to “the unbridled will of legislative majorities?” Do not all, or very nearly all, the state constitutions expressly prescribe that their law-makers shall be exempt from all legal accountability for the laws they make? Do they not prescribe that all legislation shall be such, and only such, as “the unbridled wills of majorities” shall see fit to enact? Certainly they do. And is not “the unbridled will of majorities,” in the state legislatures, just as inconsistent with liberty, and just as fatal to liberty, as is “the unbridled will of congressional majorities” Certainly it is. Clearly there is no difference of principle between them. Your only remedy, therefore, for our loss of liberty, and our subjection to “the unbridled will of a congressional majority,” is to put ourselves under subjection to “the unbridled will of majorities” in the state legislatures!

You do not proposed to abolish outright the legislative power of these “unbridled congressional majorities.” Oh, no; you only propose to hold them somewhat in check by opposing to them “the unbridled wills of legislative majorities” in the states!

You imagine that in the contests which these “unbridled majorities,” in the states and the nation, will naturally get into with each other, over the people – the carcass they are all fighting for – the carcass itself will escape unhurt!

Oh, Sapient Senator! Can the world ever pay you for giving it such wisdom! Such an infallible recipe for saving to mankind their liberty! Such a miraculous safeguard against “the unbridled will of a congressional majority!”

Sapient, Oracular Senator, your remedy is absurd and spurious altogether. It is utterly inadequate – it has no tendency whatever – to save us from “the unbridled will of legislative majorities.” It only multiplies the number of such majorities, without at all altering their character. If you cannot see this, I repeat that you are mentally an object of pity.

What, then, is the remedy? Is “the unbridled will” of a legislative minority any less inconsistent with, or any less fatal to, liberty, than is “the unbridled will of a majority?” Plainly not at all.

But all legislation must necessarily proceed from “the unbridled will” of either a majority, or minority; for there are on earth no other lawmakers than majorities and minorities.

Do you not see, Sir, that you are in a dilemma? And that there is only one door of escape from it? It is this: We want no legislation at all. We want only justice and liberty; and justice and liberty are one.

Justice, I repeat, is the supreme law of this land, and of all other lands. And being everywhere and always the supreme law, it is necessarily everywhere and always the only law. And justice is a science to be learned; and not any thing that majorities, or minorities, or any other human power, can make, unmake, or alter. It is also so easily learned that mankind have no valid excuse for attempting to set up any other in its stead.

Sir, this constitution, which you declare to be “the Supreme Law of this Land,” had its origin solely in “the unbridled will” of some majority, or minority – neither of which had any right to establish it. And neither you yourself, nor any one of your associate senators or representatives, has any authority whatever under it, except such as you have derived from “the unbridled will” of some majority, or minority, who had no right to delegate to you any such power, but who took it upon themselves to destroy the liberty of their fellow-men, and usurp an irresponsible dominion over them. And you and all your associate legislators in congress are today nothing else than the servile and criminal agents of “the unbridled wills” of the majorities, or minorities – no matter which – that selected you to do their bidding; and that will discard you, and put others in your places, the moment you fail to do it.

Was it necessary for me to tell you this, to make it clear to your own mind?

But, Sir, notwithstanding all the absurdities and self-contradictions, by which you had stultified yourself, you could not close your speech without making a still further attack upon the credulity of your audience. This you did by your assertion that “Politics is not a trick! Government is not a swindle!” [2]

This declaration is certainly “important, if true.” And I do not wonder that you felt the necessity of uttering it. But if it be true, perhaps you can tell us by what power, or what process, fifty millions of people became divested of all their natural, inherent, inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and all these rights became transferred to, and vested in, four hundred men, to be disposed of by “the unbridled will of a majority” of them. Do you think that any jugglery of votes, by even ten millions of men, can have really accomplished such an astonishing and wholesale transfer of men’s natural, inherent, and inalienable rights? Just mark the words, natural, inherent, and inalienable, if you wish to comprehend the impossibility of what you assert. Yet you are bound to say that all this was possible, if you say that the four hundred have now any valid authority whatever for even trespassing upon the least of all these natural, inherent, inalienable rights; for, if they have any valid authority for trespassing upon the least of them, they have an equally valid authority for striking the whole of them out of existence. And this is really the theory on which our government now acts. It acknowledges no limits to its own power; and consequently denies the existence of any natural rights whatever remaining inn the people. If, in all this alleged transfer of rights, from the people to the government, there has been no “trick,” and no “swindle,” it is because the whole transaction has been a simple, open, naked, undisguised usurpation and robbery.

I hope you are not so blind as not to see this.

If, Sir, you should ever again pay your adoration to “The Supreme Law of this land,” and should call upon the rest of mankind to kneel with you, let me advise that – to prevent any confusion of ideas, and avoid any apparent contradictions – while expressing the same sentiments, you make some slight changes in your phraseology. I would suggest the following, as being more simple, more clear, and therefore preferable:

Room for their Majesties! Room for their Majesties! Room for the unbridled wills of all legislative majorities, state and national! The more we have of them the better! They are the true and only means of maintaining liberty in this land! Neglect them, forget them, disregard them, disobey them, weary of their commands, and you neglect, you disregard, and you will lose, liberty itself! Obey them, cherish them, studiously respect them, recognize them as the Supreme Laws of this Land, accept them as the conscience of the American people, make your hearts their thrones, and liberty will flourish, and bless us and our posterity! I don’t think that these simple conditions can need more than this simple statement. They are sublime in their simplicity! They are incalculable in their value! They are mighty in their truth!

Here you will see, Sir, that your ideas have been scrupulously preserved, while the form of expression has been, I hope, a little improved.

But lest some persons, who may listen to your exhortations, should be so dull, or so perverse, as to imagine that all this “liberty,” which you promise them, would be only slavery under another name, let me advise that you assure them, upon your honor as one of those legislators whose “unbridled wills” they are to be required to obey, that “POLITICS IS NOT A TRICK! GOVERNMENT IS NOT A SWINDLE!”

If they should be so stolid as not to see the truth, or feel the force, of these asseverations, so “sublime in their simplicity,” so “incalculable in their value,” so “mighty in their truth,” let me advise that you throw no more gems of political wisdom before such unappreciative creatures, but turn your back on them, and leave them to “lose their liberty.”

Frankly yours,

Lysander Spooner.

Boston, May 17, 1884.


[1] The above extract from your speech is taken from the Boston “Sunday Herald” of April 6, 1884.

[2] This extract is taken from the report of your speech in the New York “Herald” of April 6.

Thou Shalt Not Steal!

Joseph Cook, the new Boston oracle, had a partially lucid “interlude” recently, and attempted to wrestle with Henry George’s theories on the land question. The oracle is quite right in rejecting Mr. George’s scheme for the nationalization of land, but his Interludeship does not give any good reason for the faith that is in him. Mr. Cook regards with pious horror any proposition to take the land away from the landlords, because that would be an attack upon the institution of property, and so he does Henry George the wretched injustice of saying: “The trouble with him is that he is not enough conversant with the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not steal!’” Mistaken as Mr. George may be in his proposed solution of the social problem, anyone who knows him would trust to his honesty as confidently as to that of the oracular Jo Cook. In fact, the latter takes the more narrow view of the scope of the commandment. It has not yet dawned upon this eminent theologian’s mind that rent is robbery and that all men have equal right to the use of the soil as they have to light and air. To take from landlords the privilege of levying taxes upon the occupants of the land would not be a violation of the commandment with which Mr. Cook professes to be so conversant. It would be substantial justice to the human race. Actual possession and use of land is one thing. Possession plus legal privilege is quite another thing. The first is a natural, equitable right. The other is robbery. The trouble with Henry George is that he thinks it would be right to substitute one great robber landlord for the many small robber landlords, and that it would change the merits of the case to call the plunder “taxes” instead of “rent.” The trouble with Jo Cook is that he has a superstitious reverence for proprietorship, and thinks it stealing to compel a robber to make restitution. On the whole, brother Cook and brother George both need to inquire much deeper into the matter before they can understand the full significance of the commandment, “Thou shalt not steal!”

The Generation of the Horse-Leech.

The insatiable Grant family, having gone forth to shear the lambs of Wall street and come back shorn, again stands before the people in the attitude of an impudent and pertinacious beggar, demanding that the people shall be taxed for the General and his gambling progeny. When General Grant retired from office, his friends made up a purse of $250,000 for him, and upon that sum and numerous other gifts and spoils which he had accumulated, it was supposed he might manage to loaf during the remnant of his life. But he wanted more, and so he sent his sons into Wall street to run a gambling bank in company with a more experienced swindler. The nominal capital was a certain sum of money, but the real working capital was the name of Grant, and the plan of operations was similar to that of a dishonestly conducted faro bank. The firm obtained loans by falsely representing that through the influence of General Grant it was enabled to swindle the government on contracts, and could afford to divide the spoils with the lenders in the form of usury. In this the firm of Grant & Ward unconsciously showed its correct appreciation of the true nature of interest,— namely, plunder. But the scheme was at last exposed, and the Grant “brace game” collapsed. All the Grants are now pretending that they were entirely ignorant of the whole affair, and laying all the blame upon the shoulders of Ward, the wicked partner. It was Ward who put up all the jobs; Ward used the potent name of Grant to rope in the toadies; Ward did the responsible lying for the firm; Ward used all the money except $3,000 per month, upon which Grant eked out a frugal living; Ward deceived the confiding Grants; Ward did everything. Poor Grant has lost all his money — except a quarter of a million so placed that his creditors cannot get hold of it, and perhaps a house or two which his friend Vanderbilt the most successful highwayman in the world, refrained from seizing. And so the Grants emerge once more into the light of day and cry out to the people, “Give! Give!” and senators and other official persons, with their hands deep in the pockets of the people, abate for a moment something of the zeal of their purely personal pilfering to remark that “something must be done for Grant.” Granted that this is true in the sense that “something must be done for” several other diseases of the social system, including the diligently dishonest official persons aforesaid, toward whom society is getting deathly indisposed.


To the Editor of Liberty:

Ever since the time of the serpent in Paradise, the world has been infested with demagogues. He tempted the people to eat the fruit of only one forbidden fruit but his descendants try to induce the people to bite at all the fruit they see in their neighbors’ orchards.

You, Mr. Liberty, oppose governments, laws, armies, and police-forces. Now, all sensible persons know we must have these institutions, or all the carpenters would saw each other’s heads off, and all mothers would make mince-pies of their unprotected babies.

Our legislators are wise men; they are experts in their various professions of law, money-dealing, and fighting. These are our most important industries, and, therefore, cannot be too fully represented. Perhaps the grave-digging interest is not quite sufficiently represented in our legislative assemblies, and I admit that it might lie well to have a few more sextons elected. Their profession would be greatly encouraged thereby, and they would work harmoniously with the lawyers financiers, and soldiers.

Agriculturists, artisans, miners, artists, engineers, architects, and all other persons who follow the more common employments, of course are of little use, politically speaking, except to supply a suitable revenue for the useful professions, and to form the crowds at political meetings, &c. (Of course they are useful as voters, but the superior classes could easily dispense with the votes by abolishing the franchise.)

You people speak offensively about hangmen. Now, I think the hangman should rank as high as a general; indeed, and on second thought, I would say that the duty and luxury of hanging citizens should-be performed and enjoyed only by our chief magistrate,— the president. (As for the demagogues, I don’t care who hangs them, so that it is done swiftly and effectually.)

Down with all demagogues! The slaves did not bother their heads with thoughts about “Liberty” until the demagogues poisoned their minds with pestiferous notions. Birds that are born and educated in cages don’t worry about “Liberty,” but are content with the position in which God has placed them. Our free and enlightened citizens — and the women and others who are not citizens — are satisfied, serene, and happy, knowing that they are well governed, by the lawyers, bankers, soldiers, and other professional rulers. Yet you, forsooth, must imitate the old serpent, and persuade our citizens to eat of the forbidden fruit! — from the Tree of Knowledge. Out upon yon! Read the Bible. Read the Koran. Read Watts’s hymns. Read the Boston “Journal.” Read something venerable, respectable, and pious, and don’t waste your time in thinking. In the year 1,001,884 our political and social systems may, perhaps, be slightly improved, but not until then, sir,— not until then.

I am, yours prophetically

Wm. Harrison Riley.

The Dreamer.

[Boston Globe.]

A dreamer, sneers the worker,

But the dreamer never sneers at him who works;

The dreamer thinks, that labor may be lighter,

That laws be juster and the world more free.

He stands upon the mountain top above the clouds.

And with the glass of reason sees afar and clearly;

While idly looking at the struggle of the world,

Within his mind the better world to come is being born.

The laborer gives us life by giving food,

But ’tis the dreamer that makes life worth living.

Today the people laugh his thought to scorn,

Tomorrow, with bared head, they’ll pause beside his grave.

— C. M. Hammond

Don’t keep Liberty to yourself, share it with others!

Twitter share Reddit share Facebook share Google+ share Tumblr share

Liberty’s Library

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.