“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
One of the oldest Land Reformers living writes to Liberty, paradoxically but truly, that “Henry George could not have done great good if he had not been a great humbug.”
“Were it left to me,” said Thomas Jefferson, “to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Jefferson came very near appraising government at its true value.
The lasters of Lewiston, Me., had the audacity to protest by strike against an additional robbery of 18 per cent., which their capitalistic proprietors proposed to commit last winter, and the law stepped in and indicted the strikers for unlawful assembly. Authority, as usual, on the side of the thief, and the victim stupidly voting to sustain authority when told to do so.
Liberty welcomes two more Anarchistic journals to its exchange list,— one in Spanish, “Revista Social,” published weekly at Madrid, the other in Bohemian, “Budoucnost,” published at 674 May Street, Chicago. Unfortunately I am able to read neither of them. The motto of “Budoucnost” is: Zub za zub, oko za oko! I don’t know what that means, but I presume “them’s my sentiments.”
“I took a splendid spear and killed a great many wounded men with it; it went into their hearts like lightning, and their blood flowed out on the sand.” Only an extract from a letter of an officer of the Forty-Second Regiment to a British service paper, but it shows how Christian England wages war upon people who worship the same god but believe in another prophet. It shows, also, how property collects interest on bonds.
The Vanderbilts never have enjoyed much reputation for eloquence or wit, but they have clothed two of the principles of civilized cannibalism in terse sentences which shall live in the memories of the people. “Billy,” said old Commodore Vanderbilt to his son William, years ago, “the men who take their seven per cent. interest will have all the money in time.” William remembered this, and when his opportunity for condensing the rule of his life into a sentence came, he said: “The public be damned.” These words will live in history.
- Peron, of the Icaria Community in Corning, Iowa, writes as follows: “We consider Liberty the very best English socialistic journal in the United States. The careful perusal of ‘Le Revolte,’ ‘Le Drapeau Noir,’ ‘L’Emeute,’ and Liberty has greatly modified our views on ‘the role of the individual in society,’ and as a consequence we have rejected our old laws and regulations as one would reject worn-out clothes, and have adopted among ourselves a simple libertarian contract of association which consecrates the principle of individual autonomy. Yours in Anarchy!” Heretofore, if we understand it, Icaria has been governed in accordance with the rigid communistic teachings of Etienne Cabet. It is pleasant to know the truth and tell it; how infinitely it adds to the satisfaction to see it bear fruit promptly.
If you are a woman suffragist, read “Edgeworth’s” forcible letter to Emma Schumm, printed in another column. It will show you what a bauble you are fighting for. But why does “Edgeworth” advise the people to wait until they are strong enough in numbers and then, once for all, use the ballot to abolish the government? Such a manifestation will be entirely superfluous. Before the Anarchists become a majority, they, as a large minority, will have crippled and killed the government with a far more potent weapon than the ballot. They will have starved it to death by stopping its supplies. Taxes are the food of despots, and States, no more than individuals, can live without their nourishment.
Illustrations of the misleading and deceptive influences of Herbert Spencer’s writings are numerous. They can be found every day in the columns of journals generally intelligent, but misguided by so-called political economists. For instance, the Springfield “Union” says: “Socialism, disguised under the name of popular privileges, scores another advance in the decision of the Massachusetts supreme court that persons injured by the fireworks of a city celebration cannot recover damages against the city. So now it is understood that an individual has no rights that the community is bound to respect. The coming slavery that Herbert Spencer predicted is already here and full grown.” O Socialism! What crimes of the mind are committed in thy name!
The march of what is called progress, starting from Europe and breaking up several peaceable nations en route, all for the glory of God and the elevation of humanity, has made nearly the compass of the earth and produced some results. The blessings of civilization and a horde of missionaries were foisted upon the unobtrusive Japanese some years ago, and the other day arrived in this country a special embassy from Japan to examine the latest American improvements in deadly weapons. The highest civilization being that which employs the most effective appliances for committing wholesale murder, Ambrose Beirce remarks that “Japan is now taking the last step upward to the light, and on the muster-roll of cultivated Christian nations her name will soon be inscribed in as red blood as the best of them”
General Butler has been contributing to the vast fund of misinformation already possessed by the senate labor committee, and making it more than ever impossible for that body of statesmen to arrive at any understanding of the things which it pretends to be investigating. He told the senators that the present suffering of the people was on account of overproduction, because we have a year’s crop of grain on hand and are within three months of another crop. The General did not tell them how many people there are in this country lacking flour to make the daily bread which they vainly beseech an impotent god to send them. He said nothing about the ingenious contrivances which have brought about under-consumption by obstructing distribution. Is it possible that General Butler really knows nothing about these things?
I am indebted to the Boston “Post” for the following: “Mr. B. R. Tucker’s ‘Liberty,’ which slept for a time, has roused up again as cranky as ever. Tucker is a good fellow and a bright fellow. It is a pity he should use his head for a football when rubber is so cheap.” This is a marked advance, both in wit end courtesy, on the greeting which the “Post” gave Liberty on its first appearance in 1881. It is appreciated. The world moves so rapidly in these days that even the stiff old “Post,” which loves so dearly to stay put, is forced to reluctantly hitch along a bit once in a while. Whenever the strain becomes too severe, I shall be happy to lend it a little of my superfluous elasticity. Cheap as rubber undoubtedly is, the “Post” cannot afford to put any on its heels until its old stock of lead is exhausted. The “Post,” like Liberty, is poor. Poverty is a penalty that has to be paid alike by those too stupid to keep pace with the times and those active enough to outstrip the times. Ta-ta, dear “Post,” ta-ta!
More significant of impending disaster than all the dynamite scares, real or imaginary, is the adoption in Providence by the city authorities, Mayor Doyle at their head, of periodical street drills of the militia in the evening. When the first drill was held, the troops were insulted by the citizens, as they should have been. In consequence, before the second, Mayor Doyle issued a proclamation warning citizens that they “must not interfere with or obstruct in any manner the movements of the soldiers, and ‘all spectators or bystanders’ are forbidden ‘to abuse, molest, or strike any one when on parade or under arms.’” This shows that the capitalists are beginning to realize the growing belief of the laborers in their right to the products of their labor, and to tremble for the possession of their spoils. What a farce are our so-called “free institutions” which so oppress the industrious masses supporting them that they can only keep these masses from rising in revolt by intimidation and show of mere brute force! And what a provocation is this menace to the hastening of the bloody day, if bloody day there must be! Liberty stamps the blame in advance.
Let no enthusiastic believer in small families arise in his wrath against Proudhon’s terrific indictment of the Malthusians, which appears in this issue. Proudhon was not especially a believer in large families. This telling blow was aimed simply at the economists who foster in the minds of the masses the delusion that they are poor because they are numerous, and thus distract their attention from the fact that they are poor because they are robbed. Proudhon believed that the population question will settle itself after the industrial question has been settled; the healthful and moderate amount of labor which each person will then have to perform in order to his maintenance will keep the passions in a healthy and normal state, and prevent the immoderate excesses in which the rich now seek a relief from ennui and the poor a relief from fatigue; and that, while this influence is operating as a steady and natural check to a too rapid increase of population, the greater facilities for improvement and investigation afforded by the increased leisure of the masses will speedily result in devices which will increase the productive capacity of labor ten, a hundred, and a thousand fold; thus reversing the Malthusian ratio and causing production to outstrip population. How beautifully nature works when the marplots leave her alone! Proudhon is the man who has most satisfactorily answered Malthus.
An Anarchist On Anarchy.
By Elisée Reclus.
[From the Contemporary Review.]
To most Englishmen the word Anarchy is so evil-sounding that ordinary readers of the “Contemporary Review” will probably turn from these pages with aversion, wondering how anybody could have the audacity to write them. With the crowd of commonplace chatterers we are already past praying for; no reproach is too bitter for us, no epithet too insulting. Public speakers on social and political subjects find that abuse of Anarchists is an unfailing passport to popular favor. Every conceivable crime is laid to our charge, and opinion, too indolent to learn the truth, is easily persuaded that Anarchy is but another name for wickedness and chaos. Overwhelmed with opprobrium and held up to hatred, we are treated on the principle that the surest way of hanging a dog is to give it a bad name.
There is nothing surprising in all this. The chorus of imprecations with which we are assailed is quite in the nature of things, for we speak in a tongue unhallowed by usage, and belong to none of the parties that dispute the possession of power. Like all innovators, whether they be violent or pacific, we bring not peace but a sword, and are in nowise astonished to be received as enemies.
Yet it is not with light hearts that we incur so much ill-will, nor are we satisfied with merely knowing that it is undeserved. To risk the loss of so precious an advantage as popular sympathy without first patiently searching out the truth and carefully considering our duty were an act of reckless folly. To a degree never dreamt of by men who are borne unresistingly on the great current of public opinion, are we bound to render to our conscience a reason for the faith that is in us, to strengthen our convictions by study of nature and mankind, and, above all, to compare them with that ideal justice which has been slowly elaborated by the untold generations of our race. This ideal is known to all, and is almost too trite to need repeating. It exists in the moral teaching of every people, civilized or savage; every religion has tried to adapt it to its dogmas and precepts, for it is the ideal of equality of rights and reciprocity of services. “We are all brethren,” is a saying repeated from one end of the world to the other, and the principle of universal brotherhood expressed in this saying implies a complete solidarity of interests and efforts.
Accepted in its integrity by simple souls, does not this principle seem to imply as a necessary consequence the social state formulated by modern socialists: “To each according to his needs, from each according to his powers?”  Well, we are simple souls, and we hold firmly to this ideal of human morality. Of a surety there is much dross mixed with the pure metal, and the personal and collective egoisms of families, cities, castes, peoples, and parties have wrought on this groundwork some startling variations. But we have not to do here with the ethics of selfish interests, it is enough to identify the central point of convergence towards which all partial ideas more or less tend. This focus of gravitation is justice. If humanity be not a vain dream, if all our impressions, all our thoughts, are not pure hallucinations, one capital fact dominates the history of man — that every kindred and people yearns after justice. The very life of humanity is but one long cry for that fraternal equity which still remains unattained. Listen to the words, uttered nearly three thousand years ago, of old Hesiod, answering beforehand all those who contend that the struggle for existence dooms us to eternal strife. “Let fishes, the wild beasts and birds, devour one another — but our law is justice.”
Yet how vast is the distance that still separates us from the justice invoked by the poet in the very dawn of history! How great is the progress we have still to make before we may rightfully cease comparing ourselves with wild creatures fighting for a morsel of carrion! It is in vain that we pretend to be civilized, if civilization be that which Mr. Alfred R. Wallace has described as “the harmony of individual liberty with the collective will.” It is really too easy to criticise contemporary society, its morals, its conventions, and its laws, and to show how much its practices fall short of the ideal justice formulated by thinkers and desired by peoples. To repeat stale censures is to risk being called mere declaimers, scatterers of voices in the market-place. And yet so long as the truth is not heard, is it not our duty to go on speaking it in season and out of season? A sincere man owes it to himself to expose the frightful barbarity which still prevails in the hidden depths of a society so outwardly well-ordered. Take, for instance, our great cities, the leaders of civilization, especially the most populous, and, in many respects, the first of all — that immense London, which gathers to herself the riches of the world, whose every warehouse is worth a king’s ransom; where are to be found enough, and more than enough, of food and clothing for the needs of the teeming millions that throng her streets in greater numbers than the ants which swarm in the never-ending labyrinth of their subterranean galleries. And yet the wretched who cast longing and hungry eyes on those hoards of wealth may be counted by the hundred thousand; by the side of untold splendors, want is consuming the vitals of entire populations, and it is only at times that the fortunate for whom these treasures are amassed hear, as a muffled wailing, the bitter cry which rises eternally from those unseen depths. Below the London of fashion is a London accursed, a London whose only food are dirt-stained fragments, whose only garments are filthy rags, and whose only dwellings are fetid dens. Have the disinherited the consolation of hope? No: they are deprived of all. There are some among them who live and die in dampness and gloom without once raising their eyes to the sun.
What boots it to the wretched outcast, burning with fever or craving for bread, that the Book of the Christians opens the doors of heaven more widely to him than to the rich! Beside his present misery all these promises of happiness, even if he heard them, would seem the bitterest irony. Does it not appear, moreover,—judging by the society in which the majority of preachers of the Gospel most delight,— that the words of Jesus are reversed, that the “Kingdom of God” is the guerdon of the fortunate of this world,— a world where spiritual and temporal government are on the best of terms, and religion leads as surely to earthly power as to heavenly bliss? “Religion is a cause for preferment, irreligion a bar to it,” as a famous commentator of the Bible, speaking to his sovereign, said it ought to be. 
When ambition thus finds its account in piety, and hypocrites practise religion in order to give what they are pleased to call their conscience a higher mercantile value, is it surprising that the great army of the hopeless should forget the way to church? Do they deceive themselves in thinking that, despite official invitations, they would not always be well received in the “houses of God?” Without speaking here of churches whose sittings are sold at a price, where you may enter only purse in hand, is it nothing to the poor to feel themselves arrested on the threshold by the cold looks of well-clad men and the tightened lips of elegant women? True, no wall bars the passage, but an obstacle still more formidable stops the way,— the dark atmosphere of hatred and disgust which rises between the disinherited and the world’s elect.
Yet the first word uttered by the minister when he stands up in the pulpit is “Brethren,” a word which, by a characteristic differentiation, has come to mean no more than a sort of potential and theoretic fraternity without practical reality. Nevertheless, its primitive sense has not altogether perished, and if the outcast that hears it be not stupefied by hunger, if he be not one of those boneless beings who repeat idiotically all they hear, what bitter thoughts will be suggested by this word “brethren,” coming from the lips of men who feel so little its force! The impressions of my childhood surge back into my mind. When I heard for the first time an earnest and eager voice beseech the “Father who is in heaven” to give us “our daily bread,” it seemed to me that by a mysterious act a meal would descend from on high on all the tables of the world. I imagined that these words, repeated millions and milliards of times, were a cry of human brotherhood, and that each, in uttering them, thought of all. I deceived myself. With some the prayer is sincere; with the greater part it is but an empty sound, a gust of wind like that which passes through the reeds.
Governments at least talk not to the poor about fraternity; they do not torment them with so sorry a jest. It is true that in some countries the jargon of courts compares the Sovereign to a father whose subjects are his children, and upon whom he pours the inexhaustible dews of his love; but this formula, which the hungry might abuse by asking for bread, is no longer taken seriously. So long as Governments were looked upon as direct representatives of a heavenly Sovereign, holding their powers by the grace of God, the comparison was legitimate; but there are very few now that make any claim to this quosi-divinity. Shorn of the sanctions of religion, they no longer hold themselves answerable for the general weal, contenting themselves instead with promising good administration, impartial justice, and strict economy in the administration of public affairs. Let history tell how these promises have been kept. Nobody can study contemporary politics without being struck by the truth of the words attributed alike to Oxenstjerna and Lord Chesterfield: “Go, my son, and see with how little wisdom the world is governed!” It is now a matter of common knowledge that power, whether its nature be monarchic, aristocratic, or democratic, whether it be based on the right of the sword, of inheritance, or of election, is wielded by men neither better nor worse than their fellows, but whose position exposes them to greater temptations to do evil. Raised above the crowd, whom they soon learn to despise, they end by considering themselves essentially superior beings; solicited by ambition in a thousand forms, by vanity, greed, and caprice, they are all the more easily corrupted that a rabble of interested flatterers is ever on the watch to profit by their vices. And possessing as they do a preponderant influence in all things, holding the powerful lever whereby is moved the immense mechanism of the State — functionaries, soldiers, and police — everyone of their oversights, their faults, or their crimes repeats itself to infinity and magnifies as it grows. It is only too true: a fit of impatience in a Sovereign, a crooked look, an equivocal word, may plunge nations into mourning and be fraught with disaster for mankind. English readers, brought up to a knowledge of Biblical lore, will remember the striking parable of the trees who wanted a king.  The peaceful trees and the strong, those who love work and whom man blesses; the olive that makes oil, the fig-tree that grows good fruit, the vine that produces wine, “which cheereth God and man,” refuse to reign; the bramble accepts, and of that noxious briar is born the flame which devours the cedars of Lebanon.
But these depositaries of power who are charged, whether by right divine or universal suffrage, with the august mission of dispensing justice, can they be considered as in any way more infallible, or even as impartial? Can it be said that the laws and their interpreters show towards all men the ideal equity as it exists in the popular conception? Are the judges blind when there come before them the wealthy and the poor—Shylock, with his murderous knife, and the unfortunate who has sold beforehand pounds of his flesh or ounces of his blood? Hold they always even scales between the king’s son and the beggar’s brat? That these magistrates should firmly believe in their own impartiality and think themselves incarnate right in human shape, is quite natural; every one puts on — sometimes without knowing it — the peculiar morality of his calling; yet judges, no more than priests, can withstand the influence of their surroundings. Their sense of what constitutes justice, derived from the average opinion of the age, is insensibly modified by the prejudices of their class. How honest soever they may be, they cannot forget that they belong to the rich and powerful, or to those, less fortunate, who are still on the look-out for preferment and honor. They are moreover blindly attached to precedent, and fancy that practices inherited from their forerunners must needs be right. Yet when we examine official justice without prejudice, how many iniquities do we find in legal procedures! Thus the English are scandalized — and rightly so — by the French fashion of examining prisoners, those sacred beings who in strict probity ought to be held innocent until they are proved guilty; while the French are disgusted, and not without reason, to see English justice, through the English Government, publicly encourage treachery by offers of impunity and money to the betrayer, thereby deepening the degradation of the debased and provoking acts of shameful meanness which children in their schools, more moral than their elders, regard with unfeigned horror.
Nevertheless law, like religion, plays only a secondary part in contemporary society. It is invoked but rarely to regulate the relations between the poor and the rich, the powerful and the weak. These relations are the outcome of economic laws and the evolution of a social system based on inequality of conditions.
Laissez faire! Let things alone! have said the judges of the camp. Careers are open; and although the field is covered with corpses, although the conqueror stamps on the bodies of the vanquished, although by supply and demand, and the combinations and monopolies in which they result, the greater part of society becomes enslaved to the few, let things alone — for thus has decreed fair play. It is by virtue of this beautiful system that a parvenu, without speaking of the great lord who receives counties as his heritage, is able to conquer with ready money thousands of acres, expel those who cultivate his domain, and replace men and their dwellings with wild animals and rare trees. It is thus that a tradesman, more canning or intelligent, or, perhaps, more favored by luck than his fellows, is enabled to become master of an army of workers, and as often as not to starve them at his pleasure. In a word, commercial competition, under the paternal aegis of the law, lets the great majority of merchants — the fact is attested by numberless medical inquests — adulterate provisions and drink, sell pernicious substances as wholesome food, and kill by slow poisoning, without for one day neglecting their religious duties, their brothers in Jesus Christ. Let people say what they will, slavery, which abolitionists strove so gallantly to extirpate in America, prevails in another form in every civilised country; for entire populations, placed between the alternatives of death by starvation and toils which they detest, are constrained to choose the latter. And if we would deal frankly with the barbarous society to which we belong, we must acknowledge that murder, albeit disguised under a thousand insidious and scientific forms, still, as in the times of primitive savagery, terminates the majority of lives. The economist sees around him but one vast field of carnage, and with the coldness of the statistician he counts the slain as on the evening after a great battle. Judge by these figures. The mean mortality among the well-to-do is, at the utmost, one in sixty. Now the population of Europe being a third of a thousand millions, the average deaths, according to the rate of mortality among the fortunate, should not exceed five millions. They are three times five millions! What have we done with these ten million human beings killed before their time? If it be true that we have duties, one towards the other, are we not responsible for the servitude, the cold, the hunger, the miseries of every sort, which doom the unfortunate to untimely deaths? Race of Cains, what have we done with our brothers?
[To be continued.]
 None but the communistic Anarchists accept this motto. The mutuallistic Anarchists, who are the original Anarchists, hold to the simpler and more just rule: “To each according to his work.” — Editor Liberty.
 Alexander Cruden, Preface to the “Concordance.”
 Judges ix. 8.
What’s To Be Done?
By N. G. Tchernychewksy.
Translated by Benj. R. Tucker.
Continued from No. 42.
Maria Alexevna lent an attentive ear and tried to catch the conversation; but her knowledge of French was limited. However, she knew the meaning of certain words which perpetually recurred in the conversation: beautiful, charming, love, happiness.
Beautiful! Charming! Maria Alexavna has long heard those adjectives applied to her daughter. Love! She clearly sees that Mikhail Ivanytch is madly in love. Where there is love there is happiness. It is complete; but when will he speak of marriage?
“You are very ungrateful, Vérotchka,” said Maria Alexevna in a low voice to her daughter; “why do you turn away your head? They certainly pay you enough attention, little stupid! Tell me the French for engaged and marriage. Have they said those words?”
“Perhaps you are not telling me the truth? Take care!”
“No; no such words have passed their lips. . . . Let us go; I can stay here no longer!”
“Go! What do you say, wretch?” muttered Maria Alexevna, into whose eyes the blood shot.
“Yes, let us go! Do with me what you will; but I stay here no longer. Later I will tell you why. Mamma,” continued the young girl, in a loud voice, “I have too severe a headache; I can remain no longer. Let us go, I beg of you.”
And at the same time Vérotchka rose.
“It is nothing.” said Maria Alexevna, severely; “promenade in the corridor a little while with Mikhail Ivanytch, and it will pass away.”
“Mamma, I feel very ill; come quickly, I beg of you.”
The young people hastened to open tho door and offered their arms to Vérotchka, who had the impoliteness to refuse. They placed the ladies in the carriage. Meanwhile Maria Alexevna looked upon the valets with an air which seemed to say: “See, rabble, how eager these fine gentlemen are in their attentions, and that one there will be my son-in-law, and soon I too shall have at my bidding wretches like you.” Then mentally addressing her daughter:
“Must you be obstinate, stupid that you are! But I will put you on your good behavior. . . . Stay, stay, my future son-in-law is spearing to her; he arranges her in the carriage. Listen: health, visit, permit (he is asking her permission to call and inquire after her health.)” Without becoming any the less angry, Maria Alexevna took into consideration the words she had just heard.
“What did he say on leaving you?” she asked, as soon as the carriage had started.
“He told me that tomorrow morning he would come to our house to ask after my health.”
“You are not lying? He really said tomorrow?”
Vérotchka said nothing.
“You have escaped finely,” resumed her mother, who could not refrain from pulling her hair; “but be gay tomorrow! Sleep tonight, stupid, and above all do not take it into your head to weep; for if tomorrow morning you are pale, if your eyes are red, beware! I shall be pitiless; your pretty face will be gone; but I shall have asserted myself!”
“I long since ceased to weep, as you well know.”
“That’s right! But talk with him a little more.”
“I will try tomorrow.”
“That’s right! It is time to become reasonable. Fear God and have a little pity for your mother, boldface that you are!”
After a silence of ten minutes:
“Vérotchka, do not be angry with me; it is through love for you and for your good that I torment you. children are so dear to their mothers. I carried you for nine months in my womb. I ask of you only gratitude and obedience. Do as I tell you, and tomorrow he will propose.”
“You are mistaken, mamma; he does not dream of it. If you knew of what they talked!”
“I know it. If he does not think of marriage, I know of what he thinks. But he does not know the people with whom he has to deal. We will reduce him to servile obedience, and, if necessary, I will carry him to the altar in a sack, or I will drag him there by the hair, and still he will be content. but a truce to babbling! I have already said too much to you; young girls should not know so much. It is the business of their mothers. The daughters have only to obey. Tomorrow you will speak to him.”
“And you, Pavel Konstamtinytch, of what are you thinking with your chilly air? You tell her also, in the name of your paternal authority, that you order her to obey her mother in everything.”
“Maria Alexevna, you are a wise woman; but the affair is difficult, and even dangerous. Can you carry it through?”
“Imbecile! That is very appropriate now! And before Vérotchka, too! The proverb is quite right: do not stir up ordure if you fear its stench. It is not your advice that I ask; only this: should a daughter obey her mother?”
“Certainly! Certainly! Maria Alexevna, that is just.”
“Well, do you order her as a father?”
“Vérotchka, obey in all things your mother, who is a wise woman, an experienced woman. She will not teach you to do evil. This obedience I enjoin upon you as a father.”
On stepping from the carriage Vérotchka said to her mother:
“It is well; I will talk with him tomorrow. But I am very tired, and I need rest.”
“Yes, go to bed. I will not disturb you. Sleep well; you need to for tomorrow.”
In order to keep her promise Maria Alexevna entered the house without making a disturbance. How much that cost her! How much it cost her also to see Vérotchka enter her room directly without stopping to take tea!
“Vérotchka, come here!” she said to her, pleasantly.
The young girl obeyed.
“Bow your little head; I wish to bless you. There! May God bless you, Vérotchka, as I bless you!”
Three times in succession she blessed her daughter, after which she offered her her hand to kiss.
“No, mamma. I long ago told you that I will not kiss your hand. Let me go now, for I really feel very ill.”
The eyes of Maria Alexevna blazed with hatred, but she again restrained herself, ana gently said:
“Go! Rest yourself!”
Vérotchka spent much time in undressing.
While taking off her dress and patting it in the closet, while taking off her bracelets and ear-rings, each of those simple operations was followed by a long reverie. It was some time before she discovered that she was very tired, and that she had sunk into an arm-chair, being unable to stand erect before the mirror. At last she perceived it, and made haste to get into bed.
She had scarcely lain down when her mother entered, carrying on a tray a large cup of tea and a number of biscuits.
“Come, eat, Vérotchka, it will do you good. You see that your mother does not forget you. I said to myself: Why has my daughter gone to bed without her tea? And I desired to bring it to you myself; help yourself, dear child.”
This kind and gentle voice which Vérotchka had never heard surprised her very much, till, looking at her mother, she saw her cheeks inflamed and her eyes disordered.
“Eat!” continued Maria Alexevna; “when you have finished, I will go for more.”
The tea and cream which she had brought aroused Vérotchka’s appetite, and, raising herself on her elbow, she began to drink.
“Tea is really good when it is fresh and strong, with plenty of sugar and cream. When I get rich, I shall always drink it so; it is not like warmed-over, half-sweetened tea, which is so unpalatable. Thank you, mamma.”
“Do not go to sleep; I am going to get you another cup. Drink,” she continued, as she came back bearing an excellent cup of tea; “drink, my child; I wish to stay with you longer.”
Accordingly she sat down, and, after a moment’s silence, she began to talk in a somewhat confused voice, now slowly, now rapidly.
“Vérotchka, you just said ‘Thank you’ to me; it is a long time since those words escaped your lips. You think me wicked; well, yes, I am wicked! Can one help it?
“But, dear me! how weak I am! Three punches in succession — at my age! And then you vexed me; that is why I am weak.
“My life has been a very hard one, my daughter! I do not want you to live one like it. You shall live in luxury. How many torments I have endured! Oh, yes! how many torments!
“You do not remember the life that we lived before your father got his stewardship. We lived very poorly; I was virtuous then, Vérotchka. But now I am no longer so, and I will not burden my soul with a new sin by falsely telling you that I am still virtuous. I have not been for a long time, Vérotchka; you are educated, I am not; but I know all that is written in your books, and I know that it is written there that no one should be treated as I have been. They reproach me for not being virtuous, too! and your father the first, the imbecile!
“My little Nadinka was born; he was not her father. Well, what of it! What harm did that do him?
“Was it I who received the position of chief deputy?
“And was it not his fault as much as mine, and more?
“They took my child to put it with the foundlings, and I know not what became of her. Now I hardly care whether she is still living; but then I suffered much. I became wicked, and then all began to go well. I made your father chief deputy, I made him steward, and at last we were where we could live well. Now, how have I succeeded in doing that? By becoming dishonest; for it is written in your books, I know, Vérotchka, that none but rascals make any figure in the world. Is it not true?
“Now your fool of a father has money, thanks to me. And I too have money! Perhaps more than he. It was I who made it all!
“Your fool of a father has come to esteem me, and I have made him walk straight. When I was virtuous, he ill-treated me without reason, and just because I was good. I had to become wicked.
“It is written in your books that we should be good; but can one in the present arrangement of things? For it is necessary to live. Why do they not make society anew, and in accordance with the beautiful order which exists only in your books? It would be better, I know, but the people are so stupid! What can be done with such people? Let us live, then, according to the old order. The old order, your books say, is built on robbery and falsehood. The new order not existing, we must live according to the old. Steal and lie my daughter; it is through love of you . . . that I speak . . . and . . .”’
The voice of Maria Alexevna was extinguished in a loud snore.
Maria Alexevna, while she knew what had happened at the theatre, did not however know the sequel. While she was snoring on a chair, Storechnikoff, his two friends, and the officer’s French mistress were finishing supper in one of the most fashionable restaurants.
“M’sieur Storechnik!” — Storechnikoff beamed, this being the third time that the young Frenchwoman had addressed him since the beginning of the supper. — “M’sieur Storechnik! let me call you so, it sounds better and is easier to pronounce; you did not tell me that I was to be the only lady in your society. I hoped to meet Adele here; I should have been pleased, for I see her so rarely!”
“Adele, unfortunately, has fallen out with me.”
The officer started as if to speak; then, changing his mind, kept silent. It was the civilian who said:
“Do not believe him, Mademoiselle Julie. He is afraid to tell you the truth and confess that he has abandoned this Frenchwoman for a Russian.”
“I do not clearly understand why we came here either,” muttered the officer.
“But,” replied Julie, “why not, Serge, since Jean invited us? I am very glad to make the acquaintance of M. Storechnik, though he has very bad taste, I admit. I should have nothing to say, M. Storechnik, if you had abandoned Adele for the beautiful Georgian whom you visited in her box, but to exchange a Frenchwoman for a Russian! I can fancy her pale cheeks,— no, I beg pardon, that is not exactly the word; blood with cream in it, as you call it,— that is, a dish which only you Esquimaux are able to relish. Jean, hand me the cigar-ash tray to pass to M. Storechnik that he may humble his guilty head beneath the ashes.”
“You have just said so many foolish things, Julie, that you are the one to humble your guilty head beneath the ashes. She whom you call Georgian is precisely the Russian in question.” Thus spoke the officer.
“You are laughing at me.”
“Not at all; she is a pure-blooded Russian.”
“It is impossible.”
“You are wrong in supposing, my dear Julie, that our country has but one type of beauty. Have you not brunettes and blondes in France? As for us, we are a mixture of tribes including blondes like the Finns (“Finns! that is it! that is it!” exclaimed the Frenchwoman) and brunettes darker than the Italians, the Tartars, and the Mongolians (“The Mongolians! very good!” again exclaimed the Frenchwoman). These different types are mingled, and our blondes whom you so hate are but a local type, very numerous, but not exclusive.”
“That is astonishing! But she is splendid! Why does she not become an actress? But mind, gentlemen, I speak only of what I have seen; there is still an important question to be settled,— her foot? Has not your great poet Karassin said that in all Russia there could not be found five pairs of dainty little feet?”
“Julie, it was not Karassin who said that. Karassin, whom you would do better to call Kuramzine, is neither a Russian nor a poet; he is a Tartar historian. It was Pouchkine who spoke of the little feet. That poet’s verses, very popular in his day, have lost a little of their value. As for the Esquimaux, they live in America, and our savages who drink stags’ blood an called Samoyedes.”
“I thank you, Serge; Karamzine historian. Pouchkine: . . . I know. The Esquimaux in America, the Russians Samoyedes . . . Samoyedes, that name sounds well, Sa-mo-yedes. I shall remember, gentlemen, and will make Serge repeat it all to me when we get home. These things are useful to know in a conversation. Besides, I have a passion for knowledge; I was born to be a Stael. But that is another affair. Let us come back to the question,— her foot?”
“If you will allow me to call upon you to-morrow, M’elle Julie, I shall have the honor to bring you her shoe.”
“I hope so; I will try it on; that excites my curiosity.”
Storechnikoff was enchanted. And how could he help it? Hitherto he had been the follower of Jean, who had been the follower of Serge, who had been the follower of Julie, one of the most elegant of the Frenchwomen in Serge’s society. It was a great honor that they did him.
“The foot is satisfactory,” said Jean; “I, as a positive man, am interested in that which is more essential; I looked at her neck”
“Her neck is very beautiful,” answered Storechnikoff, flattered at the praises bestowed upon the object of his choice, and he added, to flatter Julie:
“Yes, ravishing! And I say it, though it be a sacrilege in this presence to praise the neck of another woman.”
“Ha! Ha! Ha! He thinks to pay me a compliment! I am neither a hypocrite nor a liar, M. Storechnik; I do not praise myself, nor do I suffer others to praise me where I am unworthy. I have plenty of other charms left, thank God! But my neck! . . . Jean tell him what it is. Give me your hand, M. Storechnik, and feel here, and there. You see that I wear a false neck, as I wear a dress, a petticoat, a chemise. Not that it pleases me; I do not like such hypocrisies; but it is admitted in society: a woman who has led the life that I have led — M. Storechnik, I am now an anchorite in comparison with what I have been — such a woman cannot preserve the beauty of her throat”
And Julie burst into tears, crying:
“O my youth! O my purity! O God! was it for so much infamy that I was born?”
“You lie, gentlemen,” she cried, rising suddenly from her seat and striking her hand upon the table; “you slander this young girl; you are vile! She is not his mistress; I saw it all. He wishes to buy her of her mother. I saw her turn her back upon him, quivering with indignation. Your conduct is abominable! She is a pure and noble girl!”
“Yes,” said Jean, languidly stretching himself. “My dear Storechnikoff, you must prove your words. You describe very well what you have not seen. What matters it, alter all, whether it be a week before or a week after. For you will not be disenchanted, and the reality will surpass your imagination. I surveyed her; you will be content.”
Storechnikoff held back no longer:
“Pardon, Mademoiselle Julie, you are mistaken in your conclusions; she is really my mistress. It was a cloud caused by jealousy. She had taken offence because during the first act I had remained in Mademoiselle Mathilde’s box. That was all.”
“You are lying, my dear,” said Jean, yawning.
“Prove it! I am positive, and do not believe without proofs.”
“What proof can I give you?”
“You yield already! what proof? This, for instance. Tomorrow we will take supper here again together. Mademoiselle Julie shall bring Serge, I will bring my little Berthe, and you shall bring the beauty in question. If you bring her, I lose, and will pay for the supper; if you do not bring her, we will banish you in shame from our circle.”
While speaking Jean had rung, and a waiter had come.
“Simon,” he said to him, “prepare a supper tomorrow for six persons. A supper such as we had here at the time of my marriage to Berthe. Do you remember it, before Christmas? In the same room.”
“Ah, sir, could one forget such a supper? You shall have it.”
“Abominable people!” resumed Julie; “do you not see that he will set some trap for her? I have been plunged in all his filth of Paris, and I never met three men like these! In what society must I live? for what crime do I deserve such ignominy?”
And falling on her knees:
“My God! I was only a poor and weak woman! I endured hunger and cold in Paris. But the cold was so intense, the temptations so irresistible. I wished to live; I wished to love! Was that, then, so great a crime that you punish me thus severely? Lift me from this mire! My old life in Paris! Rather that than live among such people!”
She rose suddenly and ran to the officer:
“Serge, are you like these people? No, you are better.”
“Better,” echoed the officer, phlegmatically.
“Is this not abominable?”
“And you say nothing! You let them go on? You become an accomplice!”
“Come and sit on my knee, my girl.” And he began to caress her until she grew calm:
“Come, now, you are a brave little woman; I adore you at such times. Why will you not marry me? I have asked you so often.”
“Marriage! Yoke! Appearances! No, never! I have already forbidden you to talk to me of such nonsense. Do not vex me. But, my beloved Serge, defend her. He fears you; save her!”
“Be calm, Julie! What would you have me do? If it is not he, it will be another; it comes to the same thing. Do you not see that Jean, too, already dreams of capturing her? And people of his sort, you know, are to be found by thousands. One cannot defend her against everybody, especially when the mother desires to put her daughter into the market. As well might one butt his head against the wall, as the Russian proverb says. We are a wise people, Julie: see how calm my life is, because I know how to bow to fate.”
“That is not the way of wisdom. I, a Frenchwoman, struggle; I may succumb, but I struggle. I, for my part, will not tolerate this infamy! Do you know who this young girl is and where she lives?”
“Well, let us go to her home; I will warn her.”
“To her home! And past midnight! Let us rather go to bed. Au revoir, Jean; au revoir, Storechnikoff. You will not look for me at your supper tomorrow. Julie is incensed, and this affair does not please me either. Au revoir.”
“That Frenchwoman is a devil unchained,” said Jean, yawning, when the officer and his mistress had gone. “She is very piquant; but she is getting stout already. Very agreeable to the eye is a beautiful woman in anger! All the same, I would not have lived with her four years, like Serge. Four years! Not even a quarter of an hour! But, at any rate, this little caprice shall not lose us our supper. Instead of them I will bring Paul and Mathilde. Now it is time to separate. I am going to see Berthe a moment, and then to the little Lotchen’s, who is veritably charming.”
“It is well, Vera; your eyes are not red; hereafter you will be tractable, will you not?”
Vérotchka made a gesture of impatience.
“Come! come!” continued the mother, “do not get impatient; I am silent. Last night I fell asleep in your room; perhaps I said too much: but you see, I was drunk, so do not believe anything I told you. Believe none of it, do you understand?” she repeated, threateningly.
The young girl had concluded the night before that, beneath her wild beast’s aspect, her mother had preserved some human feelings, and her hatred for her had changed into pity; suddenly she saw the wild beast reappear, and felt the hatred returning; but at least the pity remained.
“Dress yourself,” resumed Maria Alexevna, “he will probably come soon.” After a careful survey of her daughter’s toilet, she added:
“If you behave yourself well, I will give you those beautiful emerald earrings left with me as security for one hundred and fifty roubles. That is to say, they are worth two hundred and fifty roubles, and cost over four hundred. Act accordingly, then!”
Storechnikoff had pondered as to the method of winning his wager and keeping his word, and for a long time sought in vain. But at last, while walking home from the restaurant, he had hit upon it, and it was with a tranquil mind that he entered the steward’s apartments. Having inquired first as to the health of Vera Pavlovna, who answered him with a brief “I am well,” Storechnikoff said that youth and health should be made the most of, and proposed to Vera Pavlovna and her mother to take a sleigh-ride that very evening in the fine frosty weather. Maria Alexevna consented; adding that she would make haste to prepare a breakfast of meat and coffee, Vérotchka meanwhile to sing something.
“Sing us something, Vérotchka,” she said, in a tone that suffered no reply.
Vérotchka sang “Troika,”  which describes, as we know, a girl of charming beauty all eyes to see an officer pass.
“Well, now, that’s not so bad,” murmured the old woman from the adjoining room. “When she likes, this Verka  can be very agreeable at least.”
Soon Vérotchka stopped singing and began to talk with Storechnikoff, but in French.
“Imbecile that I am!” thought the old woman; “to think that I should have forgotten to tell her to speak Russian! But she talks in a low voice, she smiles; it’s going well! it’s going well! Why does he make such big eyes? It is easy to see that he is an imbecile, and that is what we are after. Good! she extends her hand to him. Is she not agreeable, this Yerka?”
[To be continued.]
 A song by Nekrassoff.
 Verka is an ill-natured diminutive of Vera.
“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.
A Gratifying Discovery.
Liberty made its first appearance in August, 1881. Of that issue a great many sample copies were mailed to selected addresses all over the world. Not one of these, however, was sent from this office directly to Nantucket, for I had never heard of a radical on that island. But, through some channel or other, a copy found its way thither, for, before the second number had been issued, an envelope bearing the Nantucket postmark came to me containing a greeting for Liberty, than which the paper has had none since more warm, more hearty, more sympathetic, more intelligent, more appreciative.
But the letter was anonymous. Its style and language, however, showed its writer to be a very superior person, which fact, of course, added value to the substance of its contents. The writer expressed his unqualified approval of the political and social doctrines enunciated in the first number of Liberty (and certainly in no number since have those doctrines been stated more boldly and nakedly than in that one), saying that these views had been held by him for years and that the advent of an organ for their dissemination was what he had long been waiting for. He gently chided Liberty, nevertheless, for its anti-religious attitude, not so much apparently from any counter-attitude of his own or from any personal sensitiveness in that direction, as from a feeling that religious beliefs are essentially private in their nature and so peculiar to the individuals holding them as to exempt them from public consideration and criticism. After admonishing Liberty to abandon this objectionable feature of its policy, the letter closed by saying that I did not need to know the writer’s name, but, for the dollar enclosed, I might send the paper regularly to “Post Office Box No. 22, Nantucket, Mass.”
Only the substance of the letter is given above, the manuscript having been inadvertently destroyed with an accumulation of others some time ago. To the given address Liberty has regularly gone, and I never failed to wonder, when mailing-day came, as to the identity of the mysterious Nantucketer.
Lately came the revelation. It will be remembered that a death occurred in Nantucket a few weeks ago, which attracted the attention of the whole country and occasioned columns of newspaper tribute and comment. In reading the various obituaries of the deceased, I learned that he was a man who had thought much and written radically on political subjects with a most decided trend toward complete individual liberty; that, nevertheless, he had been brought up in the Roman Catholic church, and to the end of his life was outwardly connected with it, though refusing on his death-bed to admit the priests to his presence for the administration of the sacrament; and that, though a member of a profession which necessarily made him a public man, he had always shunned publicity and notoriety in every way possible.
As these facts simultaneously presented themselves, the thought suddenly flashed upon my mind that I had found the holder of Box No. 22. Through a relative visiting Nantucket I instituted inquiries at the post-office on that island, and was promptly notified that the box in question had been rented for the past few years by the late Charles O’Conor. It was as I expected. The text of his letter, alas! is gone, but not its substance from my memory. The extracts from his published writings soon to appear in these columns will show how extreme a radical he was in his attitude towards governments, although in them he never expressed the fundamental thought acknowledged in his letter to me. Perhaps he regarded that as too strong meat for babes.
I am no hero-worshipper in the usual sense of that term, and among the friends of Liberty there are a number of humbler men than Charles O’Conor whose approval I value even more highly than his; but none the less is it with extreme gratification that I now authoritatively record the fact that the great lawyer whose wonderful eloquence and searching intellectual power kept him for two decades the acknowledged head of the American bar, far from being the Bourbon which an ignorant and dishonest press has pictured him, was a thorough-going Anarchist.
The Cause of Crime.
My Dear Kelly:
It is with some trepidation that I venture to approach you with a doubt as to the completeness of your conclusion in “Anarchy in Alaska,” under which caption I suspect you wrote in the last Liberty. I tremble, because I have found you dreadful Anarchists so fully equipped to disprove the results of my own reasoning, to upset the structures of my thought, and to show me for all my trouble a poor thinker. Yet it does seem as if you are rash in saying “injustice is the cause of all crime.” While I abhor the doctrine of total depravity, I observe that man is rarely perfectly developed in all his features and characteristics. I see that all men, by reason simply of their imperfections, are constantly tending to wrong doing of one kind or other. I do not believe that the restrictions imposed by our social system are effective as a safeguard against crime: but, I ask, does the doctrine of Anarchy offer anything that will tend to protect man from his ignorance and weakness? Modern education is a humbug; but ignorance of self, and the ignoring of the laws of nature, which, miserabile dictu, exist and are accompanied by unerring results in their breaking, are responsible for many crimes against posterity and against the rights of the neighbor. Injustice and authority have nothing to do here, much as may be laid to their door. Will you show me that Anarchy presents an actual, effective help to erring, sinning humanity? That you know some ideal education that shall shame our accursed sham, and absolve individual liberty from its apparent devotion to self, and develop it to the grandest philosophy of unselfishness?
The questions asked by F.R.B. are such as must occur to one whose nature revolts against the manifestly unjust conditions and relations of civilized society, but who has not studied the economic principles involved in Anarchy deeply enough to see their full significance and effects. It is precisely because Liberty does offer that which must emancipate man from ignorance and weakness that I believe it will abolish crime. I think it will be conceded by F.R.B. that poverty is the breeder of ignorance, avarice, and immorality, and that the worst traits of human nature have been produced by the conditions in which man has lived and the influences by which he has been surrounded. Ignorance of the rights and duties of men in their social relations leads to — is in itself indeed — violation of natural law. Inequality of conditions, opportunities, and fortunes is social disorder, of which crimes against possession are but manifestations. Crimes are committed from motives of avarice and revenge and through ignorance of the true principles of association. All this is practically admitted by F.R.B., although perhaps he did not follow out the idea in just this direction. Now, it is easy to prove that injustice is the cause and the sole cause of poverty, wealth, inequality, social disorder. It is clearly unjust that one man should live in idleness upon the product of another man’s labor, but that is precisely what the institution of property, with its right of increase maintained by authority, permits the proprietor to do. Property thereby restricts production and consumption, makes labor competitive, forbids exchange, and finally destroys society and abolishes itself. Property — possession plus legal privilege — is injustice, and produces all the conditions which make crime possible. Under such conditions it is clearly impossible for man to reach perfect development in mind, morals, or body; or to advance perceptibly toward perfection. He can neither know himself nor understand the laws of nature. The restrictions imposed by our social no-system are not only ineffective as safeguards against crime, but are in a great measure incentives to crime. Man has been legislating against evils for thousands of years, and has not succeeded in curing a single one with all his statutes and prisons and gibbets. The pseudo-homeopathic method of treating diseases of the social system is a gigantic failure, for all this legislating has been in direct violation of natural law. The modern education of which F.R.B. speaks is a sham because it does not even aim to teach the truth or to point out the way to knowledge of the needs of society. If it did teach the truth and encourage man to think, there would be no need for such a journal as Liberty. If Anarchy did not present an actual, effective help to erring and sinning humanity, there would be no excuse for the publication of Liberty. Poverty, ignorance, misery, and crime will disappear when the science of Justice shall have been discovered, for it only needs to be understood to be applied. Natural law needs no authority for its enforcement. Recognition of the facts alone is necessary. The fundamental law of nature is Liberty, and the ideal education is that which leads to an understanding of this grandest of all philosophies.
It would require, it has required, volumes to show F.R.B. all that he asks for, and it has been shown much more clearly than I could hope to show it if I had volumes in which to explain it and the knowledge with which to fill the volumes. And yet one may discover much by diving beneath the surface of things. He may discover what the general character of the bottom of the sea is, even though he does not explore the entire bed and cannot describe every rock and shoal. If one but once realizes what equality of conditions means and what Liberty actually is, he has the foundation upon which to build an ideal and practicable social structure, in which every fact known to him may be used as building material and fitted into its proper place. Conceive a state of social organization in which all men are enabled to enjoy all the products of labor, in which it is more profitable to consume than to hoard, in which no man need labor more than three hours a day, and you will not find it so hard to believe in the possibility of the improvement of human nature.
Misleaders of Public Opinion.
The ignorance of the men who pretend to instruct and advise the people through the daily press is the greatest obstruction to the advance of scientific knowledge of political economy. The people are in the habit of believing what the newspapers tell them, and when an editor assumes to speak ex cathedra on questions which he in no measure understands, he succeeds only in muddling the heads of his readers and propagating error. The Boston “Transcript” is one of the papers that gets an occasional glimmer of sense into its remarks on social questions, but its knowledge is so fragmentary and so tangled up with a mass of misinformation that it only confuses the questions it discusses. Misled perhaps by Herbert Spencer, the organ of Boston culture says: “The foreign elements of our working classes are the elements in which alone Socialism finds the soil it can flourish on in this country, and protection is Socialism. . . . Which is the safer principle to spread among our working classes,— that of European socialistic subsidy-giving paternal and protective government, or that of individual independence and equality of citizenship and manhood?”
What a curious mixture of race prejudice, pretentious ignorance, wrong conclusions, and instinctive love of liberty and equality is here presented! The able editor unconsciously furnishes an illustration the truth of what was said in the last issue of Liberty about the misuse of the term “Socialism.” He attacks and condemns all socialism without knowing what it is that he condemns, and he advocates individual independence and equality without understanding the meaning of his words. If he will take the trouble to read Liberty and use his reasoning faculties, he may discover that true Socialism is the uncompromising enemy of “subsidy-giving paternal and protective government,” whether European despotic monarchy or American despotic majority.
The State is Social Suicide.
Traveling on an out-going Sound steamer from New York city a very wealthy Republican manufacturer deigned to recognize me. The conversation soon turned on the disgusting political condition of the great metropolis we had left behind us.
“The more I see and reflect,” said the gentleman, “the more I am convinced that the imperative ultimatum will soon be forced upon decent American citizenship of either restricting the suffrage or allowing things to surge on into Anarchy. You Anarchists will soon have what you are after, as things are now drifting, in the matter of irresponsible popular suffrage.”
“But we Anarchists,” I replied, “are the very protestants who are armed to restrict popular suffrage, and since the grounds of restriction with us are based upon a logical, philosophical analysis of human rights, the maximum of restriction with us is naturally the abolition of all political suffrage. You great commercial and industrial leaders are only consistent till the line of restriction reaches your own toes, and then you would like to take the political machine in hand to the enslavement of the rest. It is the republican machine itself that we are after. We indict and condemn it as an artificial invention, wholly at war with Liberty and growth. If the machine itself is an engine of slavery and spoliation, then a monopoly in the running of it is simply an aggravated wrong. The machine was contrived in the understanding that, if worked at all, the masses should have a hand in operating it. You cannot at this late day attempt to drive the slums away from it without a bloody revolution, and yet, if you still continue to run it under the Declaration of Independence, it is bound sooner or later to drive society into revolt and chaos. The really conservative and consistent man, after all, is the scientific Anarchist, who voices a protest against the whole theory and practice of politics.”
My casual companion shook his head, and turned away with a cold, cynical smile, as this kind of gentry usually do when mentally land-locked; yet it is to be hoped that he carried away a bone which he found well worth gnawing at. In this rapidly culminating dilemma of enlarging suffrage by the side of politics and official corruption running mad, the Anarchist is, after all, the real conservative protestant, from the very fact that he is logically radical. The opinion is growing with astonishing rapidity among thoughtful, educated men in all quarters that universal suffrage is a failure. These people have not deeply studied the sociological problem involved, and do not know why it is a failure; they only know and see the fact. And just as little as they understand the cause, even so little do they understand the radical remedy. The only remedy which seems to present itself to them is a restriction of the voting qualification through the particular kind of force afforded by the voting trick itself. This will most certainly never work without provoking a bloody rebellion on the part of the disfranchised, and even could it be made to work successfully, it would not abolish the radical evil, but simply intensify it by placing it in the hands of a monopoly just as irresponsible in the premises as the disfranchised slums.
Tho whole scheme of operating society through politics under any conditions of suffrage is radically false and unscientific. It is an invention which begins with denying Liberty. It is a fraudulent contrivance to enslave. All government worthy the name is social and not political. The great captain of industry who with will, motive, brain, and integrity moves the affairs of human growth does not propose that the voice of the gin-slinging loafer in Murderers’ Alley shall count equally with his own. In social life this thing can never be, as it never ought to be, and under Liberty the gang in Murderers’ Alley would never dream of the thing. Politically, however, the very corner-stone of republicanism is laid in the inalienable right of the loafer, the gambler, the rum-seller, and the mutton head to have a voice which shall weigh as powerfully as that of the great executive leader whose lever moves the growth of a whole continent. The political structure is wholly at war with the social, and the real mission of politics is to crush out and forestall the operation of natural social law. It is, in short, a fraud and a swindle from top to bottom.
The work of the Anarchist is to make these points plain and to diffuse them. It is hard fighting against petrified superstitions and prejudices, but, taken for all in all, the doctrines of the Anarchists are taking a more rapid hold upon thinking minds, considering the time they have had to travel, than can be said of any other agitation yet set in motion over the world. History is playing into our hands every day, and the swindle of reigning politics is daily outpreaching to sober-minded people the capacity of our types and pockets.
Liberty and Wealth.
Starting on the Journey.
“Every man’s brains are God-given for his own benefit.”
This is the corner into which I beheld a capitalist driven. I say capitalist. But the man was only a day-laborer, and had found it difficult to keep a small family in ordinary comfort.
“Nobody is to blame but myself that I am not rich,” he said; “I have neglected to pursue the proper course. But that course was open to me, as it is to everybody in this country. The way is before every man’s eyes; it needs but the will and — the brains.”
So, I said, he was a capitalist.
If he lay in the gutter and drank swill, he would still be a capitalist.
For “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,” even with more oracular power than out of the abundance of gold.
What is a capitalist?
One who has capital?
A capitalist is one who uses, or would use, his capital to get other people’s capital,— taking good care to keep his own insured and solid.
Did he exchange one sort for another sort, the scales balancing, he would be no robber; so, not a capitalist.
“Ah!” cries my man in a corner, “that would be a pretty how-do-you-do. Where would be the stimulus, the inducement, the incitement?”
It is in vain to reply to this capitalist in a corner that the world is not bound to provide him out of its general welfare with stimulants, inducements, incitements to be other than an honest man, a fair and square man; measuring his fairness and squareness by the equivalents of his own labor or capital he renders for the labor or capital of others.
“For,” he shouts, “that would be damned poor consolation. Besides, what’s an equivalent? One man’s hour of brains for another’s hour of no brains?”
And now he is furious. He stands there maddened and gesticulating, his voice raised to a shriek.
“I tell you a man’s brains are his own! A man’s brains are for his own benefit! If he must be Socialist, Nihilist, Anarchist,— that is, be brains for all God’s world,— he is no man, but a slave,— a damned slave!”
This capitalist is profane.
He is probably more profane than he would be if he had not his millions — to get.
He hopes, he expects, even yet to show that his brains are good for a few billions.
Then he will be rosy, fat, and jolly. He will smile at you blandly, when you “air your theories.”
But now he rages if you but lay a straw across his path.
He can brook no slightest cheek to his ambition.
“You’re a damned interfering lunatic,” he cries, “and you ought to be locked up, you had. It ought not to be allowed in this country, endangering life and property. There’s that Herr Most! I’d send him to hell quicker, if I had the chance.”
And this man,— this poor man,— this capitalist,— this poor man who is a billionaire in his heart,— who would trample life, liberty, and all men’s happiness but his own in the dust, if need be, to provide employment for his brains,— this poor man in the corner foamed at the mouth. He raved himself hoarse. He sank down exhausted, quiescent.
Then his tormentor said: “You say a man’s brains are his own: you mean, a man’s brains are the devil’s.”
The exhausted would-be billionaire whispered: “You lie!”
“But I will show you I do not lie. What is a devil? A devil is the incarnation of ignorance, darkness, wrong, cruelty, murder; a destroyer, a glutton, and a gouger; a roaring lion going about seeking whom he may devour — for his own benefit: he is also — an ass.
“And for this last — which is but the sum and result of all his other attributes — he is doomed.
“All the brains in the world won’t save him.
“There is a black drop in his heart,— a drop of poison.
“A little drop; but, as it mounts to his brain, it puts confusion there. The man sees as through a glass darkly, sees men as trees walking: sees so many trees to be chopped down and cast into the fire for his benefit.
“With all his brains he is a fool, an ass. He makes this fatal mistake. They are not trees, these men: they are also selves.
“Assailed, at length they turn and rend him.
“What did he expect?
“He expected that he could go on despoiling all mankind of life and property, and that this same mankind, despoiled and starving, would submit, subside, go placidly to perdition, and leave him alone to flourish.
“A more asinine conclusion could not be reached.” This champion of brains has regained his breath. He is also, in a measure, calmed.
He comes a little way from his corner.
He looks out of the window.
A neighbor, passing, nods to him.
“There goes a man, now, too honest to live. He’s poor, but he don’t seem to mind it. Or, at any rate, it don’t fret him. You see he’s not ambitious. He has plenty of brains, nevertheless. If you don’t think so, just tackle him. But he’s a deal sight better to other people than he is to himself. He’s too fussy. Has too many ‘principles,’ crotchets, hobbies. It don’t pay to have hobbies,— to be wiser and better than the rest of mortals. Your lot is cast with mankind as it is today, and you are bound, if you’re in Rome, to do as the Romans do — or go under. But that man — I don’t suppose he ever wronged anybody in his life.”
“Astonishing! The miserable fellow! How he must suffer! Not to do as the Romans do! And he’s going under, is he?”
“No, he isn’t; because he’s never been over. He’s always stayed down.”
“But he must be miserable?”
“Yes, but he don’t know it.”
“He never wronged any one! That’s his sin, is it?”
“Well, yes, it’s a sin to be too superstitious that way. I don’t believe myself in deliberately wronging others, but one can spend all his time thinking how not to do it. He must go ahead, and keep an eye on business,— legitimate business.”
“Oh! your proposition now is this: a man’s brains are his own, and to be used for his own benefit, in doing legitimate business.”
“Exactly! I supposed that was understood.”
“You will be as honest, then, as the law allows you to be? Yours is a legal virtue?”
“As the law allows; as, also, public opinion allows. More than that I don’t pretend.”
“A man’s brains, toon, are to be used for his own benefit in such ways as public opinion and the laws do not forbid?”
“I’m willing to rest my case there.”
“When you said God,— I believe you said God,— you meant to say God as interpreted by public opinion and the laws? That is, you take your God second-hand?”
“That’s better than you reformers do. For you are one and all atheists.”
“For that matter, we all practically stand on the same ground. Your public opinion is simply the popular idea of what is right, or somewhere near right. Other people know no more about God than you or I. When they say, ‘Thus saith God,’ it amounts to no more than if they said, ‘Thus we say.’ There may be a God; there may not be. All you get, if there be one, is your ability to see things,— power to investigate and to understand the natural world about you and the natural world of man which, it might not be amiss to sat, is within you. Now, this ability, this power, increases with use. It grows like the muscular tissues of the body. Every age inherits the past, and adds to it by its own growth. If we are not wiser, we have more knowledge than our fathers.
“Well, now, there you stand, half-way out of your corner. You first said God gave you brains for your own benefit. But if you sought your own benefit in the way you proposed, you would start on a war for the extermination of the rest of mankind. Your motto, written large, foil size, would be: ‘I want this earth. All but me must emigrate.’ Of course, you would be aiming at the impossible and get tripped up. But you would in so far fall short of realizing your ideal benefit.
“Now, as I say, you have advanced so far that you say of course you don’t believe in deliberately wronging others; you will do a legitimate, a legal business. You recognize public opinion and the laws. You assume you are thus on the side of substantial justice.
“Now, would you step out from the shadow entirely, you would see a new sight. You might, as it were, look in a mirror and contemplate yourself.
“Shall I tell you what you would see?”
“Yes, as you think you know all about it, go on!”
“No, you are mistaken. I don’t think I know all about it; but I am confident I know a little,— a little more than you, for instance. You shall be my judge. I shall say nothing which I shall not expect you will agree to — when you have done considering it.
“When you turn your brain to look into the mirror I spoke of, you will see yourself, intellectually and morally, us one taking a journey. Already you have left the old devil-abode,— where you dreamed of crushing, enslaving, or annihilating a world for your own private benefit,— and have come to the abode of mortals whose motto is still, ‘Every man for himself; the best man wins;’ but now the stakes are not the world. That sort of dice-throwing has come to be illegitimate. You think with a few billions you ought to be contented and stop, and go give the rest of mankind a chance.
“Before, you were governed only by your wild greed, which roamed unchecked to devour the entire substance of kingdoms, principalities, and dominions.
“Ordained of God to to emperor, king, despot, demon, for your own benefit.
“But now look! You are in a realm where the motto is, ‘Be greedy; but not too greedy.’
“You may devour widows houses, afflict the fatherless and oppressed,— but you must do it legally, according to law, in harmony with public opinion.
“Will you call to your aid your imagination? It may be necessary for you to realize fully the picture you present in the shadowless mirror.
“You see a man who has said to himself:
“‘What a boon to me is life! If to me, why not to others,— to all others?
“‘What a charm for me has liberty! Am I alone in this? Is it not, also, dear to all? Nay, is it not essential for all? Could I possibly enjoy it alone? Must not all possess it for me to retain it?
“‘Ah, me! If my brains are for my own benefit, is it not clear that they must help, and not hinder, the benefit so eagerly sought by each and all, this human world over?
“‘Yes, yes; I see, I see; no man can live to himself alone.
“‘The day of the aristocrat is passed.
“‘Democracy is taking all things at the flood, and must ride on to fortune.
“‘But what see I myself beholding?
“‘A vast multitude,— the great public,— needy, lacking wisdom, lacking understanding.
“‘And yet this public is speaking as with the authority of the Most High. Enacting laws in the name of liberty,— despotic laws,— and enforcing them by all the appliances known to tyranny.
“‘It is this public that establishes legality.
“‘It is to this public opinion I have bowed, and said, “It is good enough for me.”
“‘By God, I will cease being the thing this ignorance and superstition, massed in popular opinions, has fashioned me. My brains are for my own use to cut a highway of thought to the very throne of Truth and Justice!
“‘Hitherto I have done no thinking.
“‘Henceforth my path shall be Thought-clear.
“‘I have read the poet who sang:
The world was set to order,
And the atoms marched in tune.
“‘I see, to use my own brains for my own benefit is to find the harmony in which mankind may live, move, and have their being.
“‘No legality shall suffice.
“‘No public opinion shall deter me.
“‘Onward to the new goal!’
“Such the picture of yourself you may behold in the mirror of light.
“On some other occasion I will ask you to permit me to accompany you upon the journey onward.”
The following article, written by P.J. Proudhon, appeared August 11, 1848, in the journal of which he was then editor. It is one of the most famous of the shorter pieces from his brilliant pen:
Dr. Malthus, an economist, an Englishman, once wrote the following words:
“A man who is born into a world already occupied, his family unable to support him, and society not requiring his labor, such a man, I say, has not the least right to claim any nourishment whatever; he is really one too many on the earth. At the great banquet of Nature there is no plate laid for him. Nature commands him to take himself away, and she will not be slow to put her order into execution.”
As a consequence of this great principle, Malthus recommends the most terrible threats, every man who has neither labor nor income upon which to live to take himself away, or at any rate to have no more children. A family,— that is, love,— like bread, is forbidden such a man by Malthus.
Dr. Malthus was, while living, a minister of the Holy Gospel, a mild-mannered philanthropist, a good husband, a good father, a good citizen, believing in God as firmly as any man in France. He died (heaven grant him peace) in 1834. It may be said that he was the first, without doubt, to reduce to absurdity all political economy, and state the great revolutionary question, the question between labor and capital. With us, whose faith in Providence still lives, in spite of the century’s indifference, it is proverbial — and herein consists the difference between the English and ourselves — that “everybody must live.” And our people, in saying this, think themselves as truly Christian, as conservative of good morals and the family, as the late Malthus.
Now, what the people say in France, the economists deny; the lawyers and the litterateurs deny; the Church, which pretends to be Christian, and also Gallican, denies; the press denies; the large proprietors deny; the government, which endeavors to represent them, denies.
The press, the government, the Church, literature, economy, wealth,— everything in France has become English; everything is Malthusian. It is in the name of God and his holy providence, in the name of morality, in the name of the sacred interests of the family, that they maintain that there is not room in the country for all the children of the country and that they warn our women to be less prolific. In France, in spite of the desire of the people, in spite of the national belief, eating and drinking are regarded as privileges, labor a privilege, family a privilege, country a privilege.
- Antony Thouret said recently that property, without which there is neither country, nor family, nor labor, nor morality, would be irreproachable as soon as it should cease to be a privilege; a clear statement of the fact that, to abolish all the privileges which to speak, exclude a portion of the people from the law, from humanity, we must abolish, first of all, the fundamental privilege, and change the constitution of property.
M.A. Thouret, in saying that, agreed with us and with the people. The State, the press, political economy, do not view the matter in that light; they agree in the hope that property, without which, as M. Thouret says, there is no labor, no family, no Republic, may remain what it always has been,— a privilege.
All that has been done, said, and printed to-day and for the last twenty years, has been done, said, and printed in consequence of the theory of Malthus.
The theory of Malthus is the theory of political murder; of murder from motives of philanthropy and for love of God, There are too many people in the world; that is the first article of faith of all those who, at present, in the name of the people, reign and govern. It is for this reason that they use their best efforts to diminish the population. Those who best acquit themselves of this duty, who practice with piety, courage, and fraternity the maxims of Malthus, are good citizens, religions men; those who protest against such conduct are anarchists, socialists, atheists.
That the Revolution of February was the result of this protest constitutes its inexpiable crime. Consequently, it shall be taught its business, this Revolution which promised that all should live. The original, indelible stain on the Republic is that the people have pronounced it anti-Malthusian. That is why the Republic is so especially obnoxious to those who were, and would become again, the toadies and accomplices of kings,— grand eaters of men, as Cato called them. They would make a monarchy of your Republic; they would devour its children.
There lies the whole secret of the sufferings, the agitations, and the contradictions of our country.
The economists are the first among us, by an inconceivable blasphemy, to establish as a providential dogma the theory of Malthus. I do not reproach them; neither do I abuse them. On this point the economists act in good faith and from the best intentions in the world. They would ask nothing better than to make the human race happy; but they cannot conceive how, without some sort of an organization of homicide, a balance between population and production can exist.
Ask the Academy of Moral Sciences. One of its most honorable members, whose name I will not call,— though he is proud of his opinions, as every honest man should be, being the prefect of I know not which department, saw fit one day, in a proclamation, to advise those within his province to have thenceforth fewer children by their wives. Great was the scandal among the priests and gossips, who looked upon this academic morality as the morality of swine! The savant of whom I speak was none the less, like all his fellows, a sealout defender of the family and of morality; but, he observed with Malthus, at the banquet of Nature there is not room for all.
- Thiere, also a member of the Academy of Moral Sciences, lately told the committee on finance that, if he were minister, he would confine himself to courageously and stoically passing through the crisis, devoting himself to the expenses of his budget, enforcing a respect for order, and carefully guarding against every financial innovation, every socialistic idea,— especially such as the right to labor,— as well as every revolutionary expedient. And the whole committee applauded him.
In giving this declaration of the celebrated historian and statesman, I have no desire to accuse his intentions. In the present state of the public mind, I should succeed only in serving the ambition of M. Thiers, if he has any left. What I wish to call attention to is that M. Thiers, in expressing himself in this wise, testified, perhaps unconsciously, to his faith in Malthus.
Mark this well, I pray you. There are two millions, four millions of men who will die of misery and hunger, if some means be not found of giving them work. This is a great misfortune, surely, and we are the first to lament it, the Malthusians tell you; but what is to be done? It is better that four millions of men should die than that privilege should be compromised; it is not the fault of capital, if labor is idle; at the banquet of credit there is not room for all.
They are courageous, they are stoical, these statesmen of the school of Malthus, when it is a matter of sacrificing laborers by millions. Thou hast killed the poor man, said the prophet Elias to the king of Israel, and then thou hast taken away his inheritance. Occidisti et possedisti. To-day we must reverse the phrase, and say to those who possess and govern: you have the privilege of labor, the privilege of credit, the privilege of property, as M. Thouret says; and it is because you do not wish to be deprived of these privileges, that you shed the blood of the poor like water: Possedisti et occidisti!
And the people, under the pressure of bayonets, are being eaten slowly; they die without a sigh or a murmur; the sacrifice is effected in silence. Courage, laborers! sustain each other: Providence will finally conquer fate. Courage! the condition of your fathers, the soldiers of the republic, at the sieges of Genes and Mayence, was even worse than yours.
- Leon Faucher, in contending that journals should be forced to furnish securities and in favoring the maintenance of taxes on the press, reasoned also after the manner of Malthus. The serious journal, said he, the journal that deserves consideration and esteem, is that which is established on a capital of from four to five hundred thousand francs. The journalist who has only his pen is like the workman who has only his arms. If he can find no market for his services or get no credit with which to carry on his enterprise, it is a sign that public opinion is against him; he has not the least right to address the country: at the banquet of public life there is not room for all.
Listen to Lacordaire, that light of the Church, that chosen vessel of Catholicism. He will tell you that socialism is antichrist. And why is socialism antichrist? Because socialism is the enemy of Malthus, whereas Catholicism, by a final transformation, has become Malthusian.
The gospel tells us, cries the priest, that there will always be poor people, Pauperes semper habebitis vobiscum; and that property, consequently, in so far as it is a privilege and makes poor people, is sacred. Poverty is necessary to the exercise of evangelical charity; at the banquet of this world here below there cannot be room for all.
He feigns ignorance, the infidel, of the fact that poverty, in Biblical language, signified every sort of affliction and pain, not hard times and the condition of the proletaire. And how could he who went up and down Judea crying, Woe to the rich! be understood differently? In the thought of Jesus Christ, woe to the rich meant woe to the Malthusians.
If Christ were living today, he would say to Lacordaire and his companions: “You are of the race of those who, in all ages, have shed the blood of the just, from Abel unto Zacharias. Your law is not my law; your God is not my God!” * * * And the Lacordaires wonld crucify Christ as a seditious person and an atheist.
Almost the whole of journalism is infected with the same ideas. Let “Le National,” for example, tell us whether it has not always believed, whether it does not still believe, that pauperism is a permanent element of civilization; that the enslavement of one portion of humanity is necessary to the glory of another; that those who maintain the contrary are dangerous dreamers who deserve to be shot; that inch is the baste of the State. For, if this is not the secret thought of “Le National,” if “Le National” sincerely and resolutely desires the emancipation of laborers, why these anathemas against, why this anger with, the genuine socialists — those who, for ten and twenty years, have demanded this emancipation?
Further, let the Bohemians of literature, today the myrmidons of journalism, paid slanderers, courtiers of the privileged classes, eulogists of all the vices, parasites living upon other parasites, who prate so much of God only to dissemble their materialism, of the family only to conceal their adulteries, and whom we shall see, out of disgust for marriage, caressing monkeys when Malthusian women fail,— let these, I say, publish their economic creed, in order that the people may know them.
Faites des filles, nous les aimons,— beget girls, we love them,— sing these wretches, parodying the poet. But abstain from begetting boys; at the banquet of sensualism there is not room for all.
The government was inspired by Malthus when, having a hundred thousand laborers at its disposal, to whom it gave gratuitous support, it refused to employ them at useful labor, and when, after the civil war, it asked that a law be passed for their transportation. With the expenses of the pretended national workshops, with the costs of war, lawsuits, imprisonment, and transportation, it might have given the insurgents six months’ labor, and thus changed our whole economic system. But labor is a monopoly; the government does not wish revolutionary industry to compete with privileged industry; at the work-bench of the nation there is not room for all.
Large industrial establishments ruin small ones; that is the law of capital, that is Malthus.
Wholesale trade gradually swallows the retail; agate Malthus.
Large estates encroach upon and consolidate the smallest possessions; still Malthus.
Soon one half of the people will say to the other:
The earth and its products are my property.
Industry and its products are my property.
Commerce and transportation are my property.
The State is my property.
You who possess neither reserve nor property, who hold no public offices and whose labor is useless to us, TAKE YOURSELVES AWAY! You have really no business on the earth: beneath the sunshine of the Republic there is not room for all.
Who will tell me that the right to labor and to live is not the whole of the Revolution?
Who will tell me that the principle of Malthus is not the whole of the counter-Revolution?
And it is for having published such things as these,— for having exposed the evil boldly and sought the remedy in good faith, that speech has been forbidden me by the government, the government that represents the Revolution!
That is why I have been deluged with the slanders, treacheries, cowardice, hypocrisy, outrages, desertions, and of all those who hate or love the people! That is why I have been given over, for a whole month, to the mercy of the jackals of the press and the screech-owls of the platform! Never was a man, either in the past or in the present, the object of so much execration as I have become, for the simple reason that I wage war upon cannibals.
To slander one who could not reply was to shoot a prisoner. Malthusian carnivora, I discover you there! Go on, then; we have more than one account to settle yet. And, if calumny is not sufficient for you, use iron and lead. You may kill me; no one can avoid his fate, and I am at your discretion. But you shall not conquer me; you shall never persuade the people, while I live and hold a pen, that, with the exception of yourselves, there is one too many on the earth. I swear it before the people and in the name of the Republic!
Shall Woman Become a Slave-Maker?
To Mrs. Emma Schumm, of the “Radical Review”:
The first choice from publications kindly selected by you has been your “Woman’s View of the Woman Question,” about which I will give you my impressions while fresh. You make a hit in citing the shoe-makers’ union. A step of progress could be made there because both sexes were alike interested in it. Your personal attitude of co-operation with your husband in the industry of ideas is to the same purport. Successes in the co-education of the sexes tell in the same direction. Sympathies and rivalries, organized wisely, afford attractive forces needed for progressive evolution. Work upon the vantage ground of the natural interplay, interlocking, of sympathies and interests. Regard as social falsehoods those situations in which female labor would have to organize itself apart. This could be possible only for unmarried and childless women. Domestic complications defeat class movements requiring mutual devotion of their members and pinching sacrifices to their common aim, when wives and mothers are concerned. The same domestic ties add force to organizations embracing both sexes. It is desirable to know the arrangements made under the influence of the cooperative idea at Rochdale, at the familistere of Guise-sur-Aisne, and elsewhere, concerning female labor. The ballot, during a century’s experience, has only served to sink labor deeper in the slough. Now the pressure is greater, the mass of ignorance greater, the morality lower, the control of votes by capital more complete, than ever before. Is it worth while to spend force so much needed for purposes directly practical upon the acquisition of an agency so deceptive? I have the acknowledged right to vote. I never use it, for I have no reason to think that measures I advocate would be advanced by any one I could vote for. The electoral machine is too cumbrous and stupid. To lighten and enlighten it the education of co-operative industries in the townships, respectively, to essential. The characters of candidates and the functions of office are now alike unknown to voters. To vote for a man I do not know, to do I know not what, is our game of political blind man’s buff. Such promiscuous election (?) may go on for ever without advancing society an inch. It is simply a national mania. It is on a par with what medicine would be, if the sick man were presented with a catalogue of drugs and asked to choose a name among them for the healing. I am sixty-two years old. Ever since I could think, I have heen trying to discern the advantage to myself and neighbors of any public office that has been instituted in this country. I have not yet succeeded. Perhaps I am an idiot. If I am sane, other folk must be crazy. When the will of majorities is galvanized up to a tension sufficient to control its “representatives-elect,” it could just as well control any other form of government. Whenever the masses are ready for the question of abolition; when any and every government beyond the immediate organization of the farm and workshop, laboratory, or scientific institute, comes to be regarded as our natural enemy,— then, once for all, let us use the ballot, and so as to prevent the abuse of it for ever after. Every voter for a governing officer is an instrument for enslaving me and levying tribute on me for the support of privilege and other hateful purposes. I desire that woman should possess and exercise every civic right compatible with Liberty; but not to include her in the number of political slave-makers. Love attends to that in his own fashion, which is neither Republican or Democratic, and dispenses with the ballot for election.
Don’t keep Liberty to yourself, share it with others!
Leonard E. Read: Accent On The Right: To Frederic Bastiat (1801–1850), who sought for truth rather than outcome and never witnessed the fruits his labor bore. Obedience to conscience was his first rule; we witness the results.
Leonard E. Read: Anything That’s Peaceful: Many favor peace but not many favor the things that make for peace. — Thomas à Kempis
Leonard E. Read: Awake for Freedom’s Sake: Finally, share with others. Forget about “reforming” them! The more we share, the more we learn. This is in the interest of self and freedom!
Leonard E. Read: Castles in the Air: If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; there is where they should be. Now put foundations under them. — Henry David Thoreau
Libertarian Anarchy: Against the State: Political philosophy is dominated by a myth, the myth of the necessity of the state. The state is considered necessary for the provision of many things, but primarily for peace and security. In this provocative book, Gerard Casey argues that social order can be spontaneously generated, that such spontaneous order is the norm in human society and that deviations from the ordered norms can be dealt with without recourse to the coercive power of the state.
Major Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers: Murray Rothbard: Murray Rothbard (1926–1995) was an economist, historian, philosopher, and legal theoretician. His work was unified by a passionate and resolute commitment to a libertarianism that may be characterized as ‘anarcho-capitalism’ and which implied a belief that even the legal system may be provided privately without the need for a coercive collective authority. Hence, anarcho-capitalists envisage a society where the traditional role of government is wholly subsumed by private, profit-making enterprises and all social relationships are ultimately founded upon consent.