“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.
Look out for man’s rights, and his duties will take care of themselves.
The Boston “Herald” copies with commendation the following from a “Christian Union” editorial: “No honest man will desire to get money any faster than he earns it. Society is a joint stock corporation. The man who wants to take more value out than he puts in is essentially a dishonest man. He who consumes more than he produces is either a beggar or a thief,— that is, he lives either by charity or by dishonesty. The market gardener who makes the before weedy soil produce lettuce and cabbage for the food of man is a more valuable and honorable member of society than he who spends his life in shrewdly betting on the rise and fall of stocks, pork, or grain. All attempts to make money out of somebody else are dishonest; the desire to make it in that way is a dishonest desire. So long as that desire dominates men’s hearts, rules, whether of the street or of the Legislature, will only be like patent locks while burglars live, every now and then they will be picked or blown open. All wealth is the product of honest industry. Any man who wants to get possession of wealth which he has not produced by honest industry — industry of hand or brain, of action or thought — wants to rob his neighbor. Rob is a short word; but it is a plain word, and it expresses exactly what we mean.” That’s exactly what Liberty says, no more, no less. But when Liberty says it, the Boston “Herald,” instead of speaking of it as “a timely word on the financial panic,” describes it as the ravings of a crank.
The Catholics of Providence, Pawtucket, and Rhode Island generally are very much excited, I understand, over my quotation of a newspaper statement that Charles O’Conor refused on his death-bed to admit the priests to his presence for the administration of the sacrament, and I am also informed that upon the truth or falsity of the report a number of wagers are depending. It is a matter of very little moment to me whether Mr. O’Conor received absolution or not, and I only mentioned it incidentally. But this is what I know about it. Before Mr. O’Conor died, one of the most reliable, painstaking, and expert reporters on the Boston press was sent to Nantucket to got the particulars of Mr. O’Conor’s last sickness. There he was told by the most intimate friend that Mr. O’Conor had on the island that the Associated Press dispatch stating that Mr. O’Conor had received absolution was false, and that the sick man had refused to see the priests who came to administer it. This statement was independently corroborated shortly afterwards by the wife of Mr. O’Conor’s physician. The reporter left the island on the day that Mr. O’Conor died. The fact was printed in the Boston “Globe,” of May 13, and no one has ever publicly denied it so far as I know. If any priest or bishop whatsoever will certify that he granted absolution to Mr. O’Conor during his last sickness, liberty will gladly print his statement, and, if unable to disprove it, will apologize for what it has said.
Charles O’Conor’s Anarchism.
The New York “Herald” prints the following document as Charles O’Conor’s last writing of a public nature. The assessment therein opposed was defeated at the Nantucket town meeting, probably much to the disappointment of the projectors of the job:—
1. The foremost object of all wise municipal laws is to preserve the private citizen from oppression.
2. The only positively dangerous persons in any of our modern civilized societies are those who devote or apply themselves to the making or administration of laws.
a. For the repression of all other evil-doers, the laws formulated against injustice may be employed and innocence be thereby defended.
b. The selfish and vicious lawmaker, aided by his ally, the law administrator, can oppress at pleasure.
c. The wrangles of government mongers among themselves concerning the spoils wrung from the community by unjust law afford no barrier against legalized oppression.
3. At the glorious uprising of 1776 in the new world these truths were not perceived. That uprising was directed against the cruel domination of a foreign tyranny. The efforts required to set aside the then present oppression, with its immediate evils, gave ample occupation to the fathers. They had not time for considering the evils incident to all government by mere mortals over their fellows in the exercise of undefined discretionary power, and which consequently were liable to be thereafter developed in our midst. The previous experience of mankind furnished them no guide, consequently no censure attaches to their memories for their not foreseeing the growth of evil practices or the inevitable effect of such practices in the ultimate establishment of evil principles.
4. The great oppression thus developed in our republic is the production at this day of a govemment-mongering horde. Though originally raised and nurtured in the slums of great cities, their evil example has captivated selfish and designing minds throughout the country, and our people are gradually becoming their slaves.
а. The dominant conceit of the government-mongering horde is to have everything done by the government, that is, by the agents whom they juggled into the offices.
b. The reputation of Nantucket as a healthful resort for our fellow-citizens in their leisure seasons has been greatly impaired by the publication that the inhabitants, by their vile habits, create a detestable stench, rendering life uncomfortable and endangering health. This is the work of our government mongers. Few in number, but active, designing, and selfish, they see an avenue to personal profit and advantage in making the purification of every filthy fellow’s privy a public governmental job.
We must have public sewers! A lot of public officers to superintend them! A grand public debt to grind us with taxes for the redemption of its semi-annual coupons!!! How deligtful! Nor is this enough.
c. Now a private company, at its own risk and cost, provide all who desire it with water. This brings no taxes upon us. It costs nothing except to those who wish for the luxury, and who, of course, should pay for it.
True, the town now pays for a supply of this water to extinguish fires. The institution of this practice was a preparatory trick of the govemment-mongers - an entering wedge for the achievement now in view—the town’s purchase of the works. The company should have been compelled, as a compensation for using the public streets, to furnish water for the extinguishment of fire.
Here, too, must arise another gang of town officers and another parcel of town bonch Huzza for our side! More taxes, more hangers-on for the office-mongering bosses, more interest-bearing coupons!
All this, too, for the men who scandalize our reputation at a healthful resort, thereby destroying the sole employment left us since the decline and extinction of the whals ashery. Instead of spreading forth the vile tale of our alleged nastiness to drive off in disgust those inclined to visit us, they should clean their own privies at their own expense, and if they have any neighbors more filthy than themselves, an indictment for the nuisance would obviate the evil. If any of these pretenders to public spirit possess influence — and some of then do — instead of ventilating the story of our alleged stinks to the destruction of our trade, they should give attention to the following reforms:—
1. By indictment and other coercive measures compel the dirty people, if any such there be, to clean out their privies, etc., at their own cost.
2. Open fire upon the railroad companies which, in the transportation of passengers to and fro from the sonth, discriminate against Nantucket and incommode, as far as possible, the travel hither and hence.
3. Establish at once that indispensable inducement to an active influx of summer visitors — telegraphic cable.
Innkeepers of Nantucket, Boarding-House Keeepers of Nantucket, Industrious Workers of Nantucket:—
Go to Town Meeting and vote down the selfish speculators who are seeking your ruin.
February 18, 1884.
A Letter From Dr. Lazarus.
To the Editor of Liberty:
Liberty awaking from her nap on May 17 courteously salutes me. In returning the compliment, I would remind the young lady that French and English idioms, like the branches of the hyperbole, however intelligent of each other, never meet. Thus, what was in my letter only personal and piquant, looks arrogant and absurd in its translation. Besides, fou, you know, does not mean fool; that is sot. Fou is not impolite in its range of meanings between rash and cracked. Let me add that my acquitance with radical literature is quite recent, with the opening of this spring. The “Index,” indeed, pointed me that way some months earlier. Like “Thisbe,” she is a “grey eye or so, but not to the purpose.” But I find however, elsevhere, free comradeship, and here venture gratefully to express my high appreciation of the few articles which have lately appeared in “Man” from the pen of Courtlandt Palmer. I was prepared to expect something good in your Russian story, yet am none the less thrilled with surprise at its excellence. The illusion of reality is prompt and perfect, and your own work leaves nothing to be desired. I should never have supposed it a translation, unless you had told me so. The author employs the same artifice in his introduction, which experience has taught me, as a reader, to adopt for my own satisfaction, with that class of works.
Your and Liberty’s friend,
Guntersville, Alabama, May 30, 1884.
Liberty Limited Only by Itself.
[Henry Maret in “Le Radical.”]
The “République Francaise” thinks it has thrown me into confusion by asking me if liberty consists in doing everything that comes into any individual’s head. This confusion is all a fine imagination of its own; I have not been confused for a second. My reply is prompt;
Yes, liberty consists in doing everything that comes into any individual’s head, on the sole condition that that which comes into the head of any individual does not injure any other individual.
It is for this reason that murder and robbery may be forbidden, since to murder and robbery two are necessary, and with the liberty of the murderer and the robber coexists that of the murdered and the robbed. But I confess that I have never been able to see the propriety of regulating in any manner whatever the conduct of an isolated individual; I regard what is called public morality as nonsense; and I consider that everything should be permitted which does not injure a neighbor in an indisputable fashion.
What’s To Be Done?
By N. G. Tchernychewsky.
Translated by Benj. R. Tucker.
Continued from No. 43.
This is what Vérotchka said to Storechnikoff:
“I must speak severely to you, sir; last evening at the theatre you told your friends that I was your mistress. I will not tell you that this lie was cowardly; for, if you had understood the whole import of your words, I do not think that you would have uttered them, But I warn you that if, at the theatre or in the street, you ever approach me, I will give you a blow. I know that my mother will kill me with ill-treatment [it was here that Vérotchka smiled], but what does that matter, since life is so little to me? This evening you wili receive from my mother a note informing you that I am indisposed and unable to join you in the sleigh-ride.”
He looked at her with big eyes, as Maria Alexevna had observed.
“I address you, sir, as a man of honor not yet utterly depraved. If I am right, I pray you to cease your attentions, and I, for my part, will pardon your calumny. If you accept, give me your hand.”
He shook her hand without knowing what he did.
“Thank you,” she added; “and now go. You can give as a pretext the necessity for ordering the horses.”
He stood as one stupefied, while she began once more to sing “Troika.”
If connoisseurs had heard Vérotchka, they would have been astonished at the extraordinary feeling which she put into her song; in her, feeling surely dominated art.
Meanwhile Maria Alexevna was coming, followed by her cook carrying the breakfast and coffee on a tray. But Storechnikoff, pretending that he had orders to give concerning the preparation of the horses, withdrew toward the door instead of approaching, and, before the steward’s wife could protest, the young man went out.
Maria Alexevna, pale with rage and fists lifted in the air, rushed into the parlor, crying:
“What have you done, wench? Wait for me!”
Vérotchka had hurried into her room. Thither the mother ran like a hurricane; but the door was locked. Beside herself, she tried to break down the door, and struck it heavy blows.
“If you break down the door,” cried the young girl, “I will break the window’s and call for help; in any case, I warn you that you shall not take me alive.”
The calm and decided tone with which these words were uttered did not fail to make an impression on the mother, who contented herself with shouting and made no more attacks on the door.
As soon as she could make herself heard, Vérotchka said to her:
“I used to detest you, but since last night I have pitied you. You have suffered, and that has made you wicked. If you wish it, we will talk together pleasantly, as we have never talked together before.”
These words did not go straight to the heart of Maria Alexevna, but her tired nerves demanded rest: she asked herself if, after all, it were not better to enter into negotiations. She will no longer obey, and yet she must be married to that fool of a Michka. And then, one cannot tell exactly what has happened; they shook hands. . . . . . . no, one cannot tell. She was still hesitating between stratagem and ferocity, when a ring of the bell interrupted her reflections; it was Serge and Julie.
“Serge, does her mother speak French?” had been Julie’s first word on waking.
“I know nothing about it. What! have you still that idea?”
“Still. But I do not believe she speaks French: you shall be my interpreter.” Had Vera’s mother been Cardinal Mezzofanti, Serge would have consented to go to her with Julie. To follow Julie everywhere, as the confidant always follows the heroines of Corneille, had become his destiny, and we must add that he did not complain of it.
But Julie had waked late and had stopped at four or five stores on the way, so that Storechnikoff had time to explain himself and Maria Alexevna to rage and calm down again before their arrival.
“What horrible stairs! I never saw anything like them in Paris. And, by the way, what shall be our excuse for calling?”
“No matter what; the mother is a usurer; we will pawn youv brooch. No, I have a better idea; the daughter gives piano lessons. We will say that you have a niece, etc.”
At the sight of Serge’s beautiful uniform and Julie’s dazzling toilette Matroena blushed for the first time in her life; she had never seen such fine people. No less were the enthusiasm and awe of Maria Alexevna when Matroena announced Colonel X. and his wife.
And his wife!
The scandals which Maria Alexevna started or heard of concerned nobody higher in station than counsellors. Consequently she did not suspect that Serge’s marriage might be only one of those so-called Parisian marriages, in which legality goes for nothing. Besides, Serge was brilliant; he explained to her that he was fortunate in having met them at the theatre, that his wife had a niece, etc., and that, his wife not speaking Russian, he had come to act as an interpreter.
“Oh yes! I may thank heaven; my daughter is a very talented musician, and were she to be appreciated in a house like yours I should be extremely happy; only, she is not very well; I do not know whether she can leave her room.”
Maria Alexevna spoke purposely in a very loud voice in order that Vérotchka might hear and understand that an armistice was proposed. At the same time she devoured her callers with her eyes.
“Vérotchka, can you come, my dear?”
Why should she not go out? Her mother certainly would not dare to make a scene in public. So she opened her door; but at sight of Serge she blushed with shame and anger. This would have been noticed even by poor eyes, and Julie’s eyes were very good: therefore without indirection, she explained herself:
“My dear child, you are astonished and indignant at seeing here the man before whom last night you were so shamefully outraged. But though he be thoughtless, my husband at least is not wicked; he is better than the scamps who surround him. Forgive him for love of me; I have come with good intentions. This niece is but a pretext; but your mother must think it genuine. Play something, no matter what, provided it be very short, and then we will retire to your room to talk.”
Is this the Julie known to all the rakes of the aristocracy, and whose jokes have often caused even the libidinous to blush? One would say, rather, a princess whose ear has never been soiled.
Vérotchka went to the piano; Julie sat near her, and Serge busied himself in sounding Maria Alexevna in order to ascertain the situation regarding Storechnikolf. A few minutes later Julie stopped Vérotchka, and, taking her around the waist, led her to her room. Serge explained that his wife wished to talk a little longer with Vérotchka in order to know her character, etc. Then he led the conversation back to Storechnikoff. All this might be charming; but Maria Alexevna, who was by no means innocent, began to cast suspicious looks about her. Meanwhile Julie went straight to the matter in hand.
“My dear child, your mother is certainly a very bad woman, but in order that I may know how to speak to you, tell me why you were taken to the theatre last evening. I know already from my husband; but I wish to get your view of the matter.”
Vérotchka needed no urging, and, when she had finished, Julie cried:
“Yes, I may tell you all!”
And in the most fitting and chaste language she told her of the wager of the night before. To which Vérotchka answered by informing her of the invitation to a sleigh-ride.
“Did he intend to deceive your mother? Or were they in conspiracy?”
“Oh!” quickly cried Vérotchka, “my mother does not go as far as that.”
“I shall know presently. Stay here; there you would be in the way.”
Julie went back to the parlor.
“Serge,” she said, “he has already invited this woman and her daughter to a sleigh-ride this evening. Tell her about the supper.”
“Your daughter pleases my wife; it remains but to fix the price, and we shall be agreed. Let us come back to our mutual acquaintance, Storechnikoff. You praise him highly. Do you know what he says of his relations with your daughter? Do you know his object in inviting us into your box?”
Maria Alexevna’s eyes flashed.
“I do not retail scandal, and seldom listen to it,” she said, with restrained anger; “and besides,” she added, while striving to appear humble, “the chatter of young people is of little consequence.”
“Possibly! But what do you say to this?” And he told the story of the previous night’s wager.
“Ah! the rascal, the wretch, the ruffian! That is why he desired to take us out of the city,— to get rid of me and dishonor my daughter.”
Maria Alexevna continued a long time in this strain; then she thanked the colonel; she had seen clearly that the lessons sought were but a feint; she had suspected them of desiring to take Storechnikoff away from her; she had misjudged them; and humbly asked their pardon.
Julie, having heard all, hastened back to Vérotchka, and told her that her mother was not guilty, that she was full of indignation against the impostor, but that her thirst for lucre would soon lead her to look for a new suitor, which would at once subject Vérotchka to new annoyances. Then she asked her if she had relatives in St. Petersburg, and, being answered in the negative, Julie said further:
“That is a pity. Have you a lover?”
Vérotchka opened her eyes wide.
“Forgive me, forgive me! That is understood. But then you are without protection? What’s to be done? But wait, I am not what you think me; I am not his wife, but his mistress; I cannot ask you to my house, I am not married; all St. Petersburg knows me. Your reputation would be lost; it is enough already that I should have come here; to come a second time would be to ruin you. But I must see you once more, and still again perhaps,— that is, if you have confidence in me? Yes? Good! At what hour shall you be free tomorrow?”
Noon was a little early for Julie; nevertheless she will arrange to be called and will meet Vérotchka by the side of the Gastinoi Dvor, opposite the Nevsky. There no one knows Julie.
“What a good idea!” continued the Frenchwoman. “Now give me some paper, that I may write to M. Storechnikoff.”
The note which she wrote read as follows:
“Monsieur, you are probably very much disturbed by your position. If you wish me to aid you, call on me this evening at seven o’clock.
But instead of taking the hand which she extended, Vérotchka threw herself upon her neck and wept as she kissed her. Julie, also much moved, likewise could not restrain her tears, and with an outburst of extreme tenderness she kissed the young girl several times, while making a thousand protests of affection.
“Dear child,” she said at last, “you cannot understand my present feelings. For the first time in many years pure lips have touched mine. O my child, if you knew! . . . Never give a kiss without love! Choose death before such a calamity!”
Storechnikoff’s plan was not so black as Maria Alexevna had imagined, she having no reason to disbelieve in evil; but it was none the less infamous. They were to start off in a sleigh and get belated in the evening; the ladies soon becoming cold and hungry, Storechnikoff was to offer them some tea; in the mother’s cup he was to put a little opium; then, taking advantage of the young girl’s anxiety and fright, he was to conduct her to the supper-room, and the wager was won. What would happen then chance was to decide; perhaps Vérotchka, dazed and not clearly understanding, would remain a moment; if, on the contrary, she only entered and at once went out again, he would assert that it was the first time she had been out alone, and the wager would be won just the same. Finally he was to offer money to Maria Alexevna...Yes, it was well planned. But now....He cursed his presumption, and wished himself under the earth.
It was in this frame of mind that he received Julie’s letter; it was like a sovereign elixir to a sick man, a ray of light in litter darkness, firm ground under the feet of one sinking. Storechnikoff rose at a bound to the most sanguine hope.
“She will save me, this generous woman. She is so intelligent that she can invent something imperative. O noble Julie!”
At ten minutes before seven, he stood at her door.
“Madame is waiting for you; please come in.”
Julie received him without rising. What majesty in her mien! What severity in her look!
“I am very glad to see you; be seated,” she said to him in answer to his respectful salutation.
Not a muscle of his face moved; Storechnikoff was about to receive a stern reprimand. What matter, provided she would save him?
“Monsieur Storeehnikoff,” began Julie, in a cold, slow voice, “you know my opinion of the affair which occasions our interview; it is useless to recall the details. I have seen the person in question, and I know the proposition that you made to her this morning. Therefore I know all, and am very glad to be relieved from questioning you. Your position is clear, to you and to me. (“God!” thought Storechnikoff, “I would rather be upbraided by far!”) You can escape only through me. If you have any reply to make, I am waiting....You do not reply? You believe, then, that I alone can come to your aid. I will tell you what I can do, and, if you deem it satisfactory. I will submit my conditions.”
Storechnikoff having given sign of assent, she resumed:
“I have prepared here a letter for Jean, in which I tell him that, since the scene of last night, I have changed my mind, and that I will join in the supper, but not this evening, being engaged elsewhere; so I beg him to induce you to postpone the supper. I will make him understand that, having won your wager, it will be hard for you to put off your triumph. Does this letter suit you?”
“But I will send the letter only on two conditions. You can refuse to accept them, and in that case I will burn the letter.
“These two conditions,” she continued, in a slow voice which tortured Storechnikoff,— “these two conditions are as follows:
“First, you shall stop persecuting this young person.
“Second, you shall never speak her name again in your conversations.”
“Is that all?”
A ray of joy illuminated Storechnikoffs countenance. “Only that,” he thought. “It was hardly worth while to frighten me so. God knows how ready I was to grant it.”
But Julie continued with the same solemnity and deliberation:
“The first is necessary for her, the second for her also, but still more for you; I will postpone the supper from week to week until it has been forgotten. And you must see that it will not be forgotten unless you speak the name of this young person no more.”
Then, in the same tone, she went into the details of carrying out the plan. “Jean will receive the letter in season. I have found out that he is to dine at Bertha’s. He will go to your house after smoking his cigar. We will send the letter, then. Do you wish to read it? Here is the envelope. I will ring . . . Pauline, you will take this letter. We have not seen each other today, Monsieur Storechnikoff and I. Do you understand?”
At last the letter is sent; Storechnikoff breathes more freely, and is quite overjoyed at his deliverance.
But Julie has not yet done.
“In a quarter of an hour you must be at home in order that Jean may find you there; you have a moment left, and I wish to take advantage of it to say a few words more. You will follow my advice, or not, as you please; but you will reflect upon it.
“I will not speak of the duties of an honest man toward a young girl whose reputation he has compromised. I know our worldly youth too well to think it useful to examine that side of the question at any length. Your marriage with this young person would seem to me a good thing for you. I will explain myself with my usual frankness, and though some of the things that I am going to say may wound you. If I go too far, a word from you will stop me short. Listen, then:
“You have a weak character, and, if you fall into the hands of a bad woman, you will be duped, deceived, and tortured into the bargain. She is good, and has a noble heart; in spite of her plebeian birth and poverty, she will aid you singularly in your career.
“Introduced into the world by you, she will shine and wield an influence there. The advantages which such a situation procure for a husband are easy to see. Besides these external advantages, there are others more intimate and precious still. You need a peaceful home and even a little watchful care. All this she can give you. I speak in all seriousness; my observations of this morning tell me that she is perfection. Think of what I have said to you.
“If she accepts, which I very much doubt, I shall consider the acceptance a great piece of good fortune for you.
“I keep you no longer; it is time for you to go.”
Vérotchka was at least tranquil for the time being; her mother could not in fairness be angry with her for having escaped a trap so basely laid; consequently she was left free enough the next day to enable her to go to the Gastinoi Dvor without hindrance.
“It is very cold here, and I do not like the cold. But wait here a moment,” said Julie, on arriving. She entered a store, where she bought a very thick veil.
“Put that on! Now you may come with me without being recognized. Pauline is very discreet; yet I do not wish her to see you, so jealous am I of your reputation; and, above all, do not lift your veil while we are together.”
Julie was dressed in her servant’s cloak and hat, and her face was hidden beneath a thick veil. First they were obliged to warm themselves; after which, being questioned by Julie, Vérotchka gave her the latest details.
“Good, my dear child; now be sure that he asks your hand in marriage. Men like him become madly amorous when their gallantries are received unfavorably. Do you know that you have dealt with him like an experienced coquette? Coquetry — I do not mean the affected and false imitation — if this method of acting — coquetry is nothing but a high degree of wit and tact applied to the relations between man and woman. Thus it is that innocent young girls act like experienced coquettes without knowing it; all that they need is wit. Perhaps, too, my arguments will have some influence on him. But the principal thing is your firmness; however that may be, he is almost sure to make you a proposition of marriage, and I advise you to accept him.”
“You! who told me yesterday that it was better to die than to give a kiss without love.”
“My dear child, I said that in a moment of exaltation; it is right, but it is poetry, and life is made up of very prosaic interests.”
“No! I will never marry him; he fills me with horror! I will never stoop to that! I would rather die, throw myself out of the window, ask alms! Yes, rather death than a man so debased!”
Julie, without being disconcerted, began to explain the advantages of the marriage which she had planned:
“You would be delivered from your mother’s persecutions; you would run no more risk of being sold. As for him, he is rather stupid, but he is not such a wretch. A husband of that sort is what an intelligent woman like you needs; you would rule the household.”
Then she told her in a lively way of the actresses and singers who, far from being made submissive to men through love, subjugate them, on the contrary.
“That is a fine position for a woman! and finer yet when she joins to such independence and power a legality of ties which commands the respect of society; that is, when she is married, and loved and admired by her husband, as the actress is by the lover whom she has subjugated.”
Tbe conversation grew more and more animated. Julie said much, and Vérotchka replied:
“You call me whimsical, and you ask me how I look upon life. I wish neither to dominate nor be dominated; I wish neither to dissimulate nor deceive; nor do I wish to exert myself to acquire that which I am told is necessary, but of which I do not feel the need. I do not desire wealth; why should I seek it? The world does not attract me; to shine in society is of little moment to me; why should I make efforts in that direction?
“Not only would I not sacrifice myself for those things of which the world boasts so loudly, but I would not even sacrifice one of my caprices. I wish to be independent and live in my own fashion. What I need I feel that I have the strength to earn; what I do not need I do not desire. You say that I am young, inexperienced, and that I shall change with time; that remains to be seen. For the present I have no concern with the wealth and splendor of the world.
“You will ask me what I desire. I do not know. If I need to be in love, I do not know it. Did I know, yesterday morning, that I was going to love you? that my heart was going to be taken possession of by friendship a few hours later? Certainly not. No more can I know how I shall feel toward a man when I shall be in love with him. What I do know is that I wish to be free; that I do not wish to be under obligations to any one, dependent on any one; I wish to act after my own fancy; let others do the same. I respect the liberty of others, as I wish them to respect mine.”
Julie listened, moved and thoughtful, and several times she blushed.
“Oh! my dear child, how thoroughly right you are!” she cried, in a broken voice. “Ah! if I were not so depraved! They call me an immoral woman, my body has been polluted, I have suffered so much,— but that is not what I consider my depravity. My depravity consists in being habituated to luxury and idleness; in not being able to live without others. . . .
“Unfortunate that I am! I deprave you, poor child, and without intending it. Forgive me, and forget all that I have said. You are right in despising the world; it is vile and even more worthless than I.
“Wherever idleness is, there is vice and abomination; wherever luxury is, there also is vice and abomination. Adieu! Go quickly!”
Storechnikoff remained plunged in this thought, cherished more and more: If indeed I should marry her. Under these circumstances there happened to him what happens, not only to inconstant men like him, but also to men of firmer character. The history of peoples is full of similar cases: see the pages of Hume, Gibbon, Ranke, Thierry. Men drag themselves along in a beaten track simply because they have been told to do so; but tell them in a very loud voice to take another road, and, though they will not hear you at first, they will soon throw themselves into the new path with the same spirit. Storechnikoff had been told that, with a great fortune, a young man has only to choose among the poor the beauty whom he desires for a mistress, and that is why he had thought of making a mistress of Vérotchka. Now a new word had been thrown into his head: Marriage! And he pondered over this question: Shall I marry her? as before he had pondered over the other: Shall I make her my mistress?
That is the common trait by which Storechnikoff represented in his person, in a satisfactory manner, nine-tenths of his fellow-citizens of the world. Historians and psychologists tell us that in each special fact the common fact is individualized by local, temporary, individual elements, and that these particular elements are precisely those of most importance. Let us examine, then, our particular case. The main feature had been pointed out by Julie (as if she had taken it from Russian novels, which all speak of it): resistance excites desire. Storechnikoff had become accustomed to dream of the possession of Vérotchka. Like Julie I call things by their names, as, moreover, almost all of us do in current conversation. For some time his imagination had represented Vérotchka in poses each more voluptuous than its predecessor; these pictures had inflamed his mind, and, when he believed himself on the point of their realization, Vérotchka, had blown upon his dream, and all had vanished. But if he could not have her as a mistress, he could have her as a wife; and what matters it which after all, provided his gross sensuality be satisfied, provided his wildest erotic dreams be realized? O human degradation! to possess! Who dares possess a human being? One may possess a pair of slippers, a dressing-gown. But what do I say? Each of us, men, possesses some one of you, our sisters! Are you, then, our sisters? You are our servants. There are, I know, some women who subjugate some men; but what of that? Many valets rule their masters, but that does not prevent valets from being valets.
These amorous images had developed in Storechnikoff’s mind after the interview at the theatre; he had found her a hundred times more beautiftul than at first he deemed her, and his polluted imagination was excited.
It is with beauty as with wit, as with all qualities; men value it by the judgment of general opinion. Every one sees that a beautiful face is beautiftul, but how beautiful is it? It is at this point that the data of current opinion become necessary to classification. As long as Vérotchka sat in the galleries or in the back rows of the pit, she was not noticed; but when she appeared in one of the boxes of the second tier, several glasses were levelled at her; and how many were the expressions of admiration heard by Storechnikoff when he returned to the lobby after escorting her to the carriage!
“Serge,” said Storechnikoff, “is a man of very fine taste! And Julie? how about her? But . . . when one has only to lay his hand on such a marvel, he does not ask himself by what title he shall possess her.”
[To be continued.]
 Michka is an ill-natured diminutive of Mikhail.
 Who spoke sixty languages, it is said.
 The Palais Royal of St. Petersburg.
 That is, the Perspective Nevsky, the finest street in St. Petersburg.
“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.
Government is a Trick.
The expression, “government is a trick,” carries a very irritating poison to the sensibilities of oily hypocrites who pose as recognized teachers and moralists in lauding the sanctity of the State. But putting the term “government” as the organized embodiment of the so-called science of politics, the plain word “trick” is of all others the one that fitly covers the situation.
A trick is a certain premeditated operation executed through pure deception whereby the uninitiated victim is made to lend credence and co-operation to the covert purpose in view. With the incubus of a lifetime of perverting prejudice in his mind, some reader may think this a very severe, if not an utterly fanatical, expose of existing government, but I affirm it to be a truthful sifting of what politically goes by that name.
Nevertheless, in the realm of theology many a reader of Liberty has long since reduced the machine of popes, priests, and ecclesiastics generally to this last term,— trick. They see in it a cunning, ingenious, and labored conspiracy to get at the pockets and liberties of mankind through controlling certain integral longings and aspirations of the soul and electing themselves medial agents between man and the great mysterious unknown which overawes him.
Yet what is the essential difference between theology and politics in this respect, and is there any difference at all? The theologian, by a studied and audacious lie, gets between man and what he calls “God” and usurps the function of spiritual toll-gatherer. The politician, through some initial trick peculiar to his particular form of government, gets between the individual and the rest of mankind and usurps the function of material toll-gatherer, the spoils of which are divided between himself and the classes which make his calling and election sure. Now, the same analysis of spiritual relations which reduces the priest to a fraud and usurper, when applied to material relations, reduces the politician to exactly the same terms. The theologian is the twin brother of the politician. The two tricksters have ever in history played into each other’s hands, and fortified each other in usurpation. It is impossible to separate Church and State. They never have been separated in any country, and they never can be. As the Church disintegrates and retreats towards one back door of society, the State disintegrates and makes for the other door. These two huge parasites are of one ilk and one hatching. They both stand or fall together, for they are both the creatures of one same inter-acting trick.
But to the “trick.” What is it, and what is its essence? The trick, both in theology and politics, is a stealthy network of sophistry, supplemented by co-operating brute force, through which masses of pliant dupes are brought to believe that somebody outside of themselves is authoritatively constituted to supervise and dictate over their spiritual, material, and social relations. The central decoy is originally “God,” graduating down to pope, cardinal, priest, council, saint, etc., through the whole machine. Then God and his lesser agents transfer the authority into the realm of material things, and we have anointed with divinity kings, emperors, presidents, councils, parliaments, constitutions, congresses, and all the collateral machinery which operates in theology. Finally republicanism falls upon a patent decoy adapted to progressive needs, made up in disordered proportions of national constitution, majority rule, and popular suffrage. Yet republicanism is no less a trick and usurpation than the rest, and in many respects has capacities for general demoralization not present in the older and simpler schemes.
The true inwardness of all these devices is the denial of individual liberty and the right of such spontaneous, free, natural organization among social groups of individuals as their interests and needs shall dictate. All governments, of whatever form or pretense, are artificial and fraudulent devices to defeat natural association and combination among individuals under consent, the pivotal basis of all arrangements worthy the name of government. Wherever individual consent is absent, the existing arrangement is the creature of trickery pure and simple. As consent is the one thing absent from every existing government on the earth, every existing government is a trick,— that and nothing less.
I like the word “trick” as applied to existing governments, and recommend its adoption by Anarchists as a very concise and comprehensive word to brand squarely upon the foreheads of gushing statesmen and scholarly hypocrites who largely owe the efficacy of their canting authority as publicists to the perpetuation of the trick itself.
Liberty and Wealth.
Social Wants Considered by the Way.
My would-be capitalist was less impressed by my remarks than I imagined him to have been, for, when I called again, he exclaimed:—
“Your views are Utopian. The goal you would have all the world start for is an impossible goal. I read in my Bible, the poor are to be with us always. Riches and poverty are in ourselves. Property, houses and lands, and all visible wealth are the symbols of an inner and potent personality.”
The man’s wife had brought in her knitting, and, as she was picking up a dropped stitch, she at this point dropped the remark:—
“He’s been posting up.”
But Smith (I didn’t intend to tell his name, but it is out now, and no matter; nobody will identify him),— Smith heard it not. He went on with his elucidation.
“In other words, wealth,— to borrow the phrase of our church,— wealth is an outward and visible sign of an inward,— I can hardly say spiritual grace, as the church does — of an inward intellectual virility and moral power. On the other hand, poverty, squalor, rags, are the signs of a humiliating incapacity. That’s what galls me, to own the truth; I don’t get on with business enterprises. I strive to persuade myself that the turning-point has not yet arrived, that tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Then, I fear it’s passed, or that I’m naturally stupid. But either way I insist I’ve no one to blame but myself.”
“I don’t know,” said the wife, “that you’re to blame if you’re naturally a fool. Nobody is. The blame lies higher up.”
“You see my wife is Ingersollian,” Smith responded.
“Yes,” she replied, “John’s got all the religion there is in this house.”
“It’s a singular house in that respect,” said I; “religion usually is woman’s prerogative. The men for the most part eschew it.”
“They may think they do,” said Smith, “but when disaster overwhelms them, they’re quite as humble as the women. They get religion, or they suicide. I prefer religion.”
The wife nodded her head, and looked wise.
“Now,” he continued, “I admit the laboring class have grievances that call for redress. But let them put religion in the place of dynamite. Let them convert their oppressors, not blow them up. Blowing up does no good. Another set is already to step into their shoes; they’ll spring up out of the nature of the case over night, like mushrooms.”
“They’ll be afraid to, by and by,” said Mrs. Smith.
“No, they won’t. Men will risk all for wealth or power. Look at the Czar of Russia.”
“His day will come yet,” exclaimed Mrs. Smith; “I hope it will. There’s no religion going to take hold of that despotism. It’s got to be blown into shivers every time it shows its ugly head.”
“Now, don’t get excited.”
“Don’t get excited? Read Kropotkine, and if you don’t get excited, there’ll be no excuse for you. You ought to be blown up yourself. The horrors of Siberia and the journey there are infamous beyond comparison. Imagine the most terrible cruelty, the blackest crime, and compared with this reality, you will paint twilight for total midnight darkness. I’dlike to read of a Czar’s death in every morning’s paper; ’twould give me a relish for breakfast.”
Smith was not a little annoyed at this outburst. He would have replied sharply, but forced a smile into the hard lines of his mouth and said nothing.
I remarked that the Siberian exile had every reason to hate the cruel Czar, and the Russian people were justified in whatever method of revenge or relief they could devise. I had no doubt a despotism so grinding — itself a life-long assassin — deserved only assassination.
“A monstrous doctrine!” said Smith.
“True as gospel!” exclaimed Mrs. Smith.
“But,” I continued, “we are forced to leave Russia to itself, and attend to matters nearer.
“There is no discounting the liberalizing influence the American Republic has had on the political condition of Europe, in stimulating the aspirations of the people toward emancipation. They have idealized our situation, and through their imagination have no doubt pictured us as even better off than we are. They see liberty here carried to its fullest proportions,— I mean the mass of the people. There is a growing conviction with a steadily increasing number that the United States have halted in a precarious situation; that they cannot remain where they are; they must go forward or backward.”
“Are we not going forward every year, increasing in population and wealth?” cried Smith.
“Who’s got the wealth? you haven’t,” exclaimed the wife, rather snappishly.
“No doubt,” said I, “but there has been an increase of wealth, and also of population; but the problem of the future remains. The wealth is insufficient, and the only contribution the increasing population brings is in the additional clamor made for a settlement. If affairs were rightly adjusted in a country like this, there could not be too many people; but the present system of things calls for a reduction of population. Not only is there an army of idlers here, but those employed are working at what may be called cut-throat wages. You see working people sticking to their places with desperation. For just across the road sit idlers by the hundreds, crying: ‘Grumble if you dare! we’re ready to step in, if you step out — for a crust of bread, if it comes to that.’ The labor market is overstocked. ‘There’s room higher up,’ said Webster. But if all people rushed to that ‘higher up,’ the same disproportion of supply to demand would ensue that now confronts the country lower down so to speak. This term ‘higher up’ is misleading, and needs comment, but not now.
“What do you say to the following as a statement of what society wants? But, remember, when I say that society wants this or that, I mean a society well and successfully constructed; that social state in which all people shall have the opportunities of liberty, wealth, and happiness.”
“You do well to put in opportunities,” said Smith, a smile of satisfaction flickering across his face; “if people improved the opportunities they have, they’d be tolerably well off.”
Mrs. Smith looked up with wide-open eyes, and asked, solemnly, “Why don’t you begin?”
I hastened to relieve the situation.
“I know,” said I, “in a sense it’s manly or womanly for one not to go through the world whining, berating circumstances and surroundings,and throwing blame on everybody else’s shoulders but his or her own. Better cry with Hamlet, ‘We’re arrant knaves, all! Believe none of us.’
“And yet, we’re not knaves, absolutely; the worst of us. The trouble with us all is that we do not find ourselves rightly related one to another. There’s a barrier to harmonious social intercourse, a something nagging, irritating, stimulating us to individual antagonism.
“The question is, how to construct this society, the social welfare of all; how to carry it forward and upward to a high plane of intellectual development and physical comfort for all.
“Let me remind you that human nature is something somewhat marvellous to contemplate. Seward used to repeat, ‘The study of human nature is the unending problem; the cause of human nature the one sacred theme.’ I quote from memory; but that was substantially the idea. ‘Our fathers,’ he said, ‘consecrated this country to the cause of human nature.’ He might have added, as they understood it. Just as Jackson swore he would support the constitution as he understood it, so the fathers could only devote themselves to the cause of human nature as they understood it.
“But human nature is a flower that is unfolding.
“Who has seen the perfect blossom? If it has blossomed in individuals, it has not in the race.
“What we seek is a race-blossom.
“There is somewhat in the Old Testament idea of God’s sparing a city for the sake of the ten good men found therein, and in the Orthodox idea of his forgiving sinners for Christ’s sake, who is said to have been sinless.
“It is a feeling after a truth.
“The ten good, the one sinless, vindicate human nature, show its possibilities and its probable destiny in all human beings. And we may well enough suppose that, if there is a god,— who originally made human nature at a venture, but remained in ignorance of all the wonderful possibilities that lurked within it,— should he chance upon some very choice specimens of individuals in city or world, showing what the nature he had created and lodged in human beings was capable of, he might become very tolerant and patient with the so-to-speak many million buds not yet blossomed. Even one Christ-blossom would be an encouragement. He would neither destroy that world by flood or fire; but wait,— a thousand years in his sight being but as a day.
“Now, practically speaking, in the management and development of social character and social conditions on this our planet, we — the human nature that is in process of development — are set to exercise the same providential patience and forgiveness, but also to give the providential impetus.
“I will not say that human nature is a machine that runs itself; but rather, that it is a plant that has a self-conscious and self-directing growth.
“If there be a god revealing his will, it is only by his own incarnation in our natures. But I do not need to discuss that point. Practically, as I said, all the world believes it has its destiny in its own hands. Sane men everywhere know that no god will stay them if they will cast themselves from high mountains, or plunge into deep waters, or walk into a den of lions or a fiery furnace.
“Nor will he raise a spear of grass to their mouths if they are starving.
“Nor will he rush to the defence of the helpless against the oppressor.
“All, all, must go on as man himself ordains it.
“He must pay the penalty for ordaining evil.
“The law of self-preservation is soon announced. The burnt child dreads the fire.
“Thus on the ladder of experience, one round after another, he mounts.
“How high up do you suppose he has climbed, Mr. Smith, in this year of grace, as you would say?”
Smith looked down thoughtfully a moument; then, raising his face with a smile, he said:
“High enough not to expect a millennium — day after to-morrow.”
“Who said anything of a millennium day after to-morrow?” the wife quietly asked; “if be has to grow into a millennial state, there’s no expecting about it. It isn’t in its teens yet, let alone coming to a man’s estate day after to-morrow.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Smith ! Her mind, Mr. Smith, is less encumbered than yours, She is not preoccupied with visions of a millionaire prosperity as you are. Hence, she isn’t captious and disposed to saddle others with illegitimate inferences. I have said nothing about time, as to whether we are near or far from a millennium. See if you can’t take a more dispassionate view; put self aside, and regard for a while the race. You’ll find, let me tell you, that yourself will be quite as well provided for when other selves are respected and honored.
“I was asking merely how far up our experience had carried us? Have we reached the point where we realize that we must have regard for all men’s interests in order to advance and secure our own? I think that idea has at least dawned, both for this country and the world.
“Humanity over the whole earth has come into close alliance and neighborhood.
“We have the word “universal” and are applying it in ways too numerous to mention.
“Now, our business is to find out what it means carried out in all directions honestly and fearlessly.
“It is the cause of universal human nature which the new era proclaims.
“We demand a social state founded in Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.
“But we have branched off from my original question in a strange, but perhaps not unprofitable way.
“What do you say to the following statement of what society wants?
“I. The just reward of labor.
“II. Security of person and property.
“III. The greatest practicable amount of freedom to each individual.
“IV. Economy in the production and uses of wealth.
“V. To open the way for each inidividual to the possession of land, and all other natural wealth.
“VI. To make the interests of all to co-operate with and assist each other, instead of clashing with and counteracting each other.
“VII. To withdraw the elements of discord, of war of distrust, and repulsion, and to establish a prevailing spirit of peace, order, and social sympathy.
(To be continued.)
The “Eternal” Republic.
A Boston paper, blindly enamored of government and paper constitutions, said a few days ago: “Truer than the poet sung of the brook is it of the great republic that ‘men may come and men may go,’ but it ‘goes on forever.’”
It has now “gone on” about a hundred years, and has got into such a diseased condition that the quacks are at their wits’ end to devise some nostrum of “reform” which shall delude men into the belief that a cure has been found. Other republics known to the world have gone on hundreds of years before getting hopelessly diseased, but there always has come an end to such going on. Things which go on toward confusion, disorder, and destruction must ultimately arrive — always have arrived and always shall arrive. The contrivers of every form of government yet seen on earth have dreamed of building for eternity, but they have builded upon unveracities, and their contrivances have gone down in the crash and wreck of revolution. The disinherited refuse to go on foreVer toiling, suffering, and starving, and when they turn in despair and rage upon the machine which grinds them, a sudden end comes to the “forever” of great republic, great monarchy, great empire, or whatsoever great lie may happen to be extant among men as the embodiment of authority.
The old republics of Greece and Rome were much more ingeniously contrived than this contemptible sham of a republic, but they were founded upon the privilege of property, the right of use and abuse, and property poisoned them all to death. Property was a slow poison in their day, but it did its work in time. In our day the privilege of property is swift in its action. The blood of nations circulates with the rapidity of the railroad and telegraph, and the ills of society are felt throughout the system with every pulsation of the electric current.
A financial panic on Wall Street becomes a commercial convulsion of the whole country in an hour. In the days of Solon property was opium to the social system and required centuries to produce dissolution. In these days it is prussic acid on the tongue. Does any sane man think it will need an eternity to destroy this great republic, which in one century has got into the hands of the quacks and is deathly sick of their drugs?
Without pretending to any greater gift of prophecy than is requisite to foretell the rising of the sun tomorrow morning, I predict that the constitution of the United States will not be in force another hundred years. Republics may come and Republics may go, but the great law of justice is eternal.
Misled by the Sciolists.
The “San Franciscan” discusses social problems in a spirit of intense earnestness and in a manner which shows that it is searching diligently for a true solution of the riddle propounded by the Sphynx of socialism, which man must answer or perish. But I fear the “San Franciscan” has been misled by John Stuart Mill, Henry George, and other social sciolists and is inclined to give them credit for sounder reasoning than any of them have ever been guilty of.
Proportional representation and land nationalization seem to have impressed the “San Franciscan” as being adequate remedies for the political and industrial diseases of the social system; but I feel confident that this impression will not last when Mr. McEwen [It is better to use the editor’s name] comes to test the theories of the economists by his own reason. He sees plainly that communism is a delusion based upon false reasoning, and he says: “He who would place railroads, telegraphs, and other great monopolies under government control reasons equally faultily. He would only create the greatest, greediest monopoly the world has ever seen.” That is true, and it would be equally true with “land” substituted for “railroads, telegraphs, and other great monopolies.” Mr. George would only create by his land scheme the greatest, greediest, most inexorable landlord the world has ever seen. The government would exercise the right of exclusion, and would evict the delinquent taxpayer as the landlords of Ireland now evict rent-racked tenants. Man’s right to the use of land would depend upon the payment to the government of a portion of his product. The institution of property would still exist, and the government would be the proprietor, the extent of whose extortion would be measured by the greed and power of the office-holders. Take away the legal privileges which make rent and interest possible, and the land question can be easily settled.
On the subject of representative government, Mr. McEwen says truly: “The majority rule is really mob rule under its most favorable aspects, and under existing conditions much worse. . . . A majority can, and does, enact any laws it sees fitting.”
But he says the whole fraudulent system could be swept away as a morning mist before the rising sun by the plan of voting which gives each party a percentage of representation in proportion to its strength. He does not yet realize that the whole fault of governmental systems is that some men, whether they be majority, minority, rising-sun proportional representatives, kings, prime ministers, or czars, “can and do enact any laws they choose” for the government of other men.
All legislation being usurpation, it matters tittle who the legislators are. If the editor of the “San Franciscan” will inquire a little deeper, and consider the difference between the natural laws of justice and the enactments of legislators, he will find that laws are discoverable but not enactable, and that the true province of the law-giver is simply scientific search for facts and the logical demonstration of discovered laws governing the relations of men and the needs of society. Then he will see that the remedies of Mill and George are but quack nostrums.
An Anarchist On Anarchy.
By Elisée Reclus.
[From the Contemporary Review.]
Continued from No. 43.
And what are the remedies proposed for the social ills which are consuming the very marrow of our bones? Can charity, as assert many good souls — who are answered in chorus by a crowd of egoists — can charity by any possibility deal with so vast an evil? True, we know some devoted ones who seem to live only that they may do good. In England, above all, is this the case. Among childless women who are constrained to lavish their love on their kind are to be found many of those admirable beings whose lives are passed in consoling the afllicted, visiting the sick, and ministering to the young. We cannot help being touched by the exquisite benevolence, the indefatigable solicitude shown by these ladies towards their unhappy fellow-creatures; but, taken even in their entirety, what economic value can be attached to these well-meant efforts? What sum represent the charities of a year in comparison with the gains which hucksters of money and hawkers of loans oftentimes make by the speculations of a single day? While ladies bountiful are giving a cup of tea to a pauper, or preparing a potion for the sick, a father or a brother, by a hardy stroke on the Stock Exchange or a successful transaction in produce, may reduce to ruin thousands of British workmen or Hindoo coolies. And how worthy of respect soever may be deeds of unostentatious charity, is it not the fact that the bestowal of alms is generally a matter of personal caprice, and that their distribution is too often influenced rather by the political and religious sympathies of the giver than by the moral worth of the recipient? Even were help always given to those who most need it, charity would be none the less tainted with the capital vice, that it infallibly constitutes relations of inequality between the benefited and the benefactor. The latter rejoices in the consciousness of doing a good thing, as if he were not simply discharging a debt; and the former asks bread as a favor, when he should demand work as a right, or, if helpless, human solidarity. Thus are created and developed hideous mendicity with its lies, its tricks, and its base, hearthbreaking hypocrisy. How much nobler are the customs of some so-called”barbarous countries” where the hungry man simply stops by the side of those who eat, is welcomed by all, and then, when satisfied, with a friendly greeting withdraws — remaining in every respect the equal of his host, and fretting under no painful sense of obligation for favors received! But charity breeds patronage ana platitudes — miserable fruits of a wretched system, yet the best which a society of capitalists has to offer us!
Hence we may say that, in letting those whom they govern — and the responsibility for whose fate they thereby accept — waste by want, sink under exposure, and deteriorate by vice, the leaders of modern society have committed moral bankruptcy. But where the masters have come short free men may, perchance, succeed. The failure of governments is no reason why we should be discouraged; on the contrary, it shows us the danger of entrusting to others the guardianship of our rights, and makes us all the mere firmly resolved to take our own cause into our own care. We are not among those whom the practice of social hypocrisies, the long weariness of a crooked life, and the uncertainty of the future have reduced to the necessity of asking ourselves — without daring to answer it — the sad question: “Is life worth living?” Yes, to us life does seem worth living, but on condition that it has an end — not personal happiness, not a paradise, either in this world, or the next — but the realization of a cherished wish, an ideal that belongs to us and springs from our innermost conscience. We are striving to draw nearer to that ideal equality which, century after century, has hovered before subject peoples like a heavenly dream. The little that each of us can do offers an ample recompense for the perils of the combat. On these terms life is good, even a life of suffering and sacrifice — even though it may be cut short by premature death.
The first, condition of equality, without which any other progress is merest mockery — the object of all socialists without exception — is that every man shall have bread. To talk of duty, of renunciation, of ethereal virtues to the famishing, is nothing less than cowardice. Dives has no right to preach morality to the beggar at his gates. If it were true that civilized lands did not produce food enough for all, it might be said that, by virtue of vital competition, bread should be reserved for the strong, and that the weak must content themselves with the crumbs that fall from the feasters’ tables. In a family where love prevails things are not ordered in this way; on the contrary, the small and the ailing receive the fullest measure; yet it is evident that dearth may strengthen the hands of the violent and make the powerful monopolizers of bread. But are our modern societies really reduced to these straits? On the contrary, whatever may be the value of Malthus’s forecast as to the distant future, it is an actual, incontestable fact that in the civilized countries of Europe and America the sum total of provisions produced, or received in exchange for manufactures, is more than enough for the sustenance of the people. Even in times of partial dearth the granaries and warehouses have but to open their doors that every one may have a sufficient share. Notwithstanding waste and prodigality, despite the enormous losses arising from moving about and “handling” in warehouses and shops, there is always enough to feed generously all the world. And yet there are some who die of hunger! And yet there are fathers who kill their children because when the little ones cry for bread they have none to give them.
Others may turn their eyes from these horrors; we socialists look them full in the face, and seek out their cause. That cause is the monopoly of the soil, the appropriation by a few of the land which belongs to all. We Anarchists are not the only ones to say it: the cry for nationalization of the land is rising so high that all may hear it who do not wilfully close their ears. The idea spreads fast, for private property, in its present form, has had its day, and historians are everywhere testifying that the old Roman law is not synonymous with eternal justice. Without doubt it were vain to hope that holders of the soil, saturated, so to speak, with ideas of caste, of privilege, and of inheritance, will voluntarily give back to all the bread-yielding furrows; the glory will not be theirs of joining as equals their fellow-citizens; but when public opinion is ripe — and day by day it grows — individuals will oppose in vain the general concourse of wills, and the axe will be applied to the upas tree’s roots. Arable land will be held once more in common; but instead of being ploughed and sown almost as hazard by ignorant hands, as it has hitherto been, science will aid us in the choice of climate, of soils, of methods of culture, of fertilizers, and of machinery. Husbandry will be guided by the same prescience as mechanical combinations and chemical operations; but the fruits of his toil will not be lost to the laborer. Many so-called savage societies hold their land in common, and humble though in our eyes they may seem, they are our betters in this: want among them is unknown. Are we, then, too ambitious in desiring to attain a social state which shall add to the conquests of civilization the privileges of these primitive tribes. Through the education of our children we may to some extent fashion the future?
After we have bread for all, we shall require something more — equality of rights; but this point will soon be realized, for a man who needs not incline himself before his fellows to crave a pittance is already their equal. Equality of conditions, which is in no way incompatible with the infinite diversity of human character, we ardently desire and look upon as indispensable, for it offers us the only means whereby a true public morality can be developed. A man can be truly moral only when he is his own master. From the moment when he awakens to a comprehension of that which is equitable and good it is for him to direct his own movements, to seak in his conscience reasons for his actions, and to perform them simply, without either fearing punishment or looking for reward. Nevertheless his will cannot fail to be strengthened when he sees other men, guided like himself by their own volition, following the same line of conduct. Mutual example will soon constitute a collective code of ethics to which all may conform without effort; but the moment that orders, enforced by legal penalties, replace the personal impulses of the conscience, there is an end to morality. Hence the saying of the Apostle of the Gentiles, “the law makes sin.” Even more, it is sin itself, because, instead of appealing to man’s better part, to his bold initiative, it appeals to his worst — it rules by fear. It thus behooves every one to resist laws that he has not made, and to defend his personal rights, which are also the rights of others. People often speak of the antagonism between rights and duties. It is an empty phrase; there is no such antagonism. Whoso vindicates his own rights fulfils at the same time his duty towards his fellow-men. Privilege, not right, is the converse of duty.
Besides the possession of a man’s own person, sound morality involves yet another condition — mutual goodwill, which is likewise the outcome of equality. The time-honored words ot Mahabarata are as true as ever: “The ignorant are not the friends of the wise; the man who has no cart is not the friend of him who has a cart. Friendship is the daughter of equality; it is never born of inequality.” Without doubt it is given to some men, great by their thoughts, by sympathy, or by strength of will, to win the multitude; but if the attachment of their followers and admirers comes otherwise than of an enthusiastic affinity of idea to idea, or of heart to heart, it is speedily transformed either into fanaticism or servility. He who is hailed lord by the acclamations of the crowd must almost of necessity attribute to himself exceptional virtues, or a “grace of God,” that marks him in his own estimation as a predestined being, and he usurps without hesitation or remorse privileges which he transmits as a heritage to his children. But, while in rank exalted, he is morally degraded, and his partisans and sycophants are more degraded still: they wait for the words of command which fall from the master’s lips; when they hear in the depths of their conscience some faint note of dissent, it is stifled; they become practised liars, they stoop to flattery, and lose the power of looking honest men in the face. Between him who commands and him who obeys, and whose degradation deepens from generation to generation, there is no possibility of friendship. The virtues are transformed; brotherly frankness is destroyed; independence becomes a crime; above is either pitying condescension or haughty contempt, below either envious admiration or hidden hate. Let each of us recall the past and ask ourselves in all sincerity this question: “Who are the men in whose society we have experienced the most pleasure?” Are they personages who have “honored” us with their conversation, or the humble with whom we have “deigned” to associate? Are they not rather our equals, those whose looks neither implore nor command, and whom we may love with open hearts without afterthought or reserve?
It is to live in conditions of equality and escape from the falsehoods and hypocrisies of a society of superiors and inferiors, that so many men and women have formed themselves into close corporations and little worlds apart. America abounds in communities of this sort. But these societies, few of which prosper while many perish, are all ruled more or less by force; they carry within themselves the seeds of their own dissolution, and are reabsorbed by Nature’s law of gravitation into the world which they have left. Yet even were they perfection, if man enjoyed in them the highest happiness of which his nature is capable, they would be none the less obnoxious to the charge of selfish isolation, of raising a wall between themselves and the rest of their race; their pleasures are egotistical, and devotion to the cause of humanity would draw back the best of them into the great struggle.
As for us Anarchists, never will we separate ourselves from the world to build a little church, hidden in some vast wilderness. Here in the fighting ground, and we remain in the ranks, ready to give our help wherever it may be most needed. We do not cherish premature hopes, but we know that our efforts will not be lost. Many of the ignorant, who either out of love of routine or simplicity of soul now anathematize us, will end by associating themselves with our cause. For every man whom circumstances permit to join us freely, hundreds are hindered by the hard necessities of life from openly avowing their opinions, but they listen from afar and cherish our words in the treasury of their hearts. We know that we are defending the cause of the poor, the disinherited, the suffering; we are seeking to restore to them the earth, personal rights, confidence in the future; and is it not natural that they should encourage us by look and gesture, even when they dare not come to us? In times of trouble, when the iron hand of might loosens its hold, and paralyzed rulers reel under the weight of their own power: when the “groups,” freed for an instant from the pressure above, reform themselves according to their natural affinities, on which side will be the many? Though making no pretension to prophetic insight, may we not venture without temerity to say that the great multitude would join our ranks? Albeit they never weary of repeating that Anarchism is merely the dream of a few visionaries, do not even our enemies, by the insults they heap upon us and the projects and machinations they impute to us, make an incessant propaganda in our favor? It is said that, when the magicians of the Middle Ages wanted to raise the devil, they began their incantations by painting his image on a wall. For a long time past modern exorcists have adopted a similar method for conjuring Anarchists.
Pending the great work of the coming time, and to the end that this work may be accomplished, it behooves us to utilize every opportunity for rede and deed. Meanwhile, although our object is to live without government and without law, we are obliged in many things to submit. On the other hand, how often are we enabled to disregard their behests and act on our own free will? Ours be it to let slip none of these occasions, and to accept tranquilly whatever personal consequences may result from doing that which we believe to be our duty. In no case will we strengthen authority by appeals or petitions, neither shall we sanction the law by demanding justice from the courts nor, by giving our votes and influence to any candidate whatsoever, become the authors of our own ill-fortune? It is also easy for us to accept nothing from power, to call no man “master,” neither to be called “master” ourselves, to remain in the ranks as simple citizens and to maintain resolutely, and in every circumstance, our quality of equal among equals. Let our friends judge us by our deeds, and reject from among them those of us who falter.
There are unquestionably many kind-hearted men that, as yet, hold themselves aloof from us, and even view our efforts with a certain apprehension, who would nevertheless gladly lend us their help were they not repelled by fear of the violence which almost invariably accompanies revolution. And yet a close study of the present state of things would show them that the supposed period of tranquillity in which we live is really an age of cruelty and violence. Not to speak of war and its crimes, from the guilt of which no civilized State is free, can it be denied that chief among the consequences of the existing social system are murder, maladies, and death. Accustomed order is maintained by rude deeds and brute force, yet things that happen every day and every hour pass unperceived; we see in them a series of ordinary events no more phenomenal than times and seasons. It seems less than impious to rebel against the cycle of violence and repression which comes to us hallowed by the sanction of ages. Far from desiring to replace an era of happiness and peace by an age of disorder and warfare, our sole aim is to put an end to the endless series of calamities which has hitherto been called by common consent”The Progress of Civilization.” On the other hand, vengeances are the inevitable incidents of a period of violent changes. It is in the nature of things that they should be. Albeit deeds of violence, prompted by a spirit of hatred, bespeak a feeble moral development, these deeds become fatal and necessary whenever the relations between man and man are not the relations of perfect equity. The original form of justice as understood by primitive peoples was that of retaliation, and by thousands of rude tribes this system is still observed. Nothing seemed more just than to offset one wrong by a like wrong. Eye for eye! Tooth for tooth! If the blood of one man has been shed, another must die! This was the barbarous form of justice. In our civilized societies it is forbidden to individuals to take the law into their own hands. Governments, in their quality of social delegates, are charged on behalf of the community with the enforcement of justice, a sort of retaliation somewhat more enlightened than that of the savage. It is on this condition that the individual renounces the right of personal vengeance; but if he be deceived by the mandatories to whom he entrusts the vindication of his rights, if he perceives that his agents betray his cause and league themselves with his oppressors, that official justice aggravates his wrongs; in a word, if whole classes and populations are unfairly used, and have no hope of finding in the society to which they belong a redresser of abuses, is it not certain that they will resume their inherent right of vengeance and execute it without pity? Is not this indeed an ordinance of Nature, a consequence of the physical law of shock and counter-shock? It were unphilosophic to be surprised by its existence. Oppression has always been answered by violence.
Nevertheless, if great human evolutions are always followed by sad outbreaks of personal hatreds, it is not to these bad passions that well-wishers of their kind appeal when they wish to rouse the motive virtues of enthusiasm, devotion, and generosity. If changes had no other result than to punish oppressors, to make them suffer in their turn, to repay evil with evil, the transformation would be only in seeming. What boots it to him who truly loves humanity and desires the happiness of all that the slave becomes master, that the master is reduced to servitude, that the whip changes hands, and that money passes from one pocket to another? It is not the rich and the powerful whom we devote to destruction, but the institutions which have favored the birth and growth of these malevolent beings. It is the medium which it behooves us to alter, and for this great work we must reserve all our strength; to waste it in personal vindications were merest puerility.”Vengeance is the pleasure of the gods,” said the ancients; but it is not the pleasure of self-respecting mortals; for they know that to become their own avengers would be to lower themselves to the level of their former oppressors. If we would rise superior to our adversary, we must, after vanquishing him, make him bless his defeat. The revolutionary device, “For our liberty and for yours,” must not be an empty word.
The people in all times have felt this; and after every temporary triumph the generosity of the victor has obliterated the menaces of the past. It is a constant fact that in all serious popular movements, made for an idea, hope of a better time, and above all, the sense of a new dignity, fills the soul with high and magnanimous sentiments. So soon as the police, both political and civil, cease their functions and the masses become masters of the streets, the moral atmosphere changes, each feels himself responsible for the prosperity and contentment of all; molestation of individuals is almost unheard of; even professional criminals pause in their sad career, for they too, feel that something great is passing through the air. Ah! if revolutionaries, instead of obeying a vague idea as they have almost always done, had formed a definite aim, a well-considered scheme of social conduct, if they had firmly willed the establishment of a new order of things in which every citizen might be assured bread, work, instruction, and the free development of his being, there would have been no danger in opening all prison-gates to their full width, and saying to the unfortunates whom they shut in, “Go, brothers, and sin no more.”
It is always to the nobler part of man that we should address ourselves when we want to do great deeds. A general fighting for a bad cause stimulates his soldiers with promises of booty; a benevolent man who cherishes a noble object encourages his companions by the example of his own devotion and self-sacrifice. For him faith in his idea is enough. As says the proverb of the Danish peasants: “His will is his paradise.” What matters it that he is treated as a visionary! Even though his undertaking were only a chimera, he knows nothing more beautiful and sweet than the desire to act rightly and do good; in comparison with this vulgar realities are for him but shadows, the apparitions of an instant.
But our ideal is not a chimera. This, public opinion well knows; for no question more preoccupies it than that of social transformation. Events are casting their shadows before. Among men who think is there one who in some fashion or another is not a socialist — that is to say, who has not his own little scheme for changes in economic relations? Even the orator who noisily denies that there is a social question affirms the contrary by a thousand propositions. And those who would lead us back to the Middle Ages, are they not also socialists? They think they have found in a past, restored after modern ideas, conditions of social justice which will establish for ever the brotherhood of man. All are awaiting the birth of a new order of things; all ask themselves, some with misgiving, others with hope, what the morrow will bring forth. It will not come with empty hands. The century which has witnessed so many grand discoveries in the world of science cannot pass away without giving us still greater conquests. Industrial appliances, that by a single electric impulse make the same thought vibrate through five continents, have distanced by far our social morals, which are yet in many regards the outcome of reciprocally hostile interests. The axis is displaced; the world must crack that its equilibrium may be restored. In spirit revolution is ready; it is already thought — it is already willed; it only remains to realize it, and this is not the most difficult part of the work. The Governments of Europe will soon have reached the limits to the expansion of their power and find themselves face to face with their increasing populations. The superabundant activity which wastes itself in distant wars must then find employment at home — unless in their folly the shepherds of the people should try to exhaust their energies by setting Europeans against Europeans, as they have so often done before. It is true that in this way they may retard the solution of the social problem, but it will rise again after each postponement, more formidable than before.
Let economists and rulers invent political constitutions or salaried organizations, whereby the workman may be made the friend of his master, the subject the brother of the potentate, we, “frightful Anarchists” as we are, know only one way of establishing peace and goodwill among men — the suppression of privilege and the recognition of right. Our ideal, as we have said, is that of the fraternal equity for which all yearn, but almost always as a dream; with us it takes form and becomes a concrete reality. It pleases us not to live if the enjoyments of life are to be for us alone; we protest against our good fortune if we may not share it with others; it is sweeter for us to wander with the wretched and the outcast than to sit, crowned with roses, at the banquets of the rich. We are weary of these inequalities which make us the enemies of each other; we would put an end to the furies which are ever bringing men into hostile collision, and all of which arise from the bondage of the weak to the strong under the form of slavery, serfage, and service. After so much hatred we long to love each other, and for this reason are we enemies of private property and despisers of the law.
 Not preventing, however, each who may so desire from holding his share individually. — Editor Liberty.
The Criminal Record of Elisée Reclus.
By E. Vaughan.
The examining magistrate in the trials now in progress at Lyons appears to have abandoned the ingenious idea which he at first entertained,— of adding Elisée Reclus to his little collection of malefactors.
Elisée Reclus, nevertheless, placed himself at his disposition with perfect good grace. But it had been discovered, that, in the matter of conspicuous names, that of our friend Kropotkine sufficed for the moment. It is imprudent to put all one’s eggs in the same basket, and it has been determined to save Elisée Reclus for the conspiracy that Devès will not fail to discover next year.
Well! in my opinion, the Lyons magistrate, in this affair, has failed in all his duties. His mission is to protect society, and until he shall have laid hands on all the disturbers who are a menace to it, he will have done nothing. I point out this timorous judge to the implacable Devès.
But the audacious criminal — I do not mean the examining magistrate or Devès — shall not escape, through I know not what shameful compromises, being branded as he deserves.
At the risk of exposing my breast to the daggers of the Internationalists, of whom I should still be one if it were not forbidden, I will pitilessly draw up the criminal record of the hardened rascal whom the galleys claim, if not the scaffold.
Before all else the public safety!
Elisée Reclus was a precocious criminal. Brought up in detestable ideas of truth and justice, he was compelled to quit France, whose ruin he already plotted, at the time when Napoleon III. was trying to save her. At the coup d’Etat of 1851 Elisée Reclus was barely twenty-one years old. He went to live — and industriously, I will answer for it — in England first, then in the two Americas, finally in New Granada.
The various pursuits in which he was obliged to engage did not prevent him from studying these various countries. The precious notes which he brought back to France in 1857 alone sufficed to place him in one day in the front rank of our geographers.
During the war of secession he published in the “Revue des Deux-Mondes” some remarkable studies which threw complete light upon the question, and started the current of public opinion in favor of the generous cause upheld by Lincoln.
The United States minister, grateful for this service spontaneously rendered, offered Elisée Reclus a considerable sum, which the young savant, wrapping himself in his proud poverty, had the indelicacy to refuse. Did he intend to give the men of the Empire a lesson which the men of the present Republic take for them? I do not know. What I do know is that this affectation of disinterestedness was a deplorable example.
Elisée Reclus did not stop there. Applying to his country and his fellow-citizens the marvellous processes of investigation in which he had been so successful elsewhere, he dared to find the economic and political system of imperial France not the best imaginable. An original savant, he did not separate, in his profound and luminous researches, effects from causes, men from the earth. It was not enough for him to determine the natural fertility of a soil; he bothered himself also about the conditions of the distribution of this common patrimony.
It was largely for that reason that in 1869 he joined the International. It was permissible then and even not unfashionable: no other proof is needed than the affiliation of that old crocodile, Jules Simon.
[To be continued.]
 The series of three articles printed under this head originally appeared in Henry Rochefort’s journal, “L’Intransigeant,” January 11, January 30, and February 8, 1883, and were written apropos of the rumors then current regarding the French government´s intention of arresting Elisée Reclus on a charge of conspiracy with Pierre Kropotkine, who was then on trial and shortly afterwards was sentenced to imprisonment for a long term. The following letter from M. Reclus himself had also just appeared:—
Monsieur Rigot, Examining Magistrate at Lyons:
Sir,— I read in the Lyons “Republican” of December 22 that, “according to the warrant,” the two chiefs and organizers of the “revolutionary Anarchists” are Elisée Reclus and Prince Kropotkine, and that I do not share my friend’s imprisonment for the sole reason that French justice cannot go beyond the frontier to arrest me.
You know, however, that it would have been very easy arrest me, since I have just passed more than two months in France. Nor are ymi ignorant that I returned to Thonon to attend the burial of Ananieff the day after Kropotkine’s arrest and that I pronounced a few words over his grave. The officers who were stationed immediately behind me and who repeated my name had only to invite me to follow them.
But whether I reside in France or in Switzerland matters little. If you desire to institute proceedings against me, I will hasten to respond to your personal invitation.
Name the place, the day, and the hour.
At the appointed time I will knock at the door of the prison designated.
Accept, sir, my civilities.
— Editor Liberty.
Kicking a Dead Lion.
When Liberty authoritatively announced a fortnight ago that Charles O’Conor was an Anarchist, the Boston “Herald,” in its usual petty and contemptible fashion, affected incredulity, and made the following comment: “Some of the people who have been gushing lately over Charles O’Conor will be surprised to see the declaration made by Mr. Tucker, the editor of Liberty, that Mr. O’Conor was a thorough-going sympathizer with the doctriues of the Anarchists as set forth in Mr. Tucker’s paper. The distinguished lawyer who used to eulogize our constitution and government must have changed his mind after he went into retirement.” Now, whoever is familiar with the political writings published by Charles O’Conor during the last ten years of his life (I do not know what he may have said previously) should be well aware that from the doctrines expressed in those writings to Anarchy is but a very short step, and that in them were proposed changes so radical that, had they been realized, “our constitution and government” would be scarcely recognizable. But the probability is that the editor of the “Herald” does not remember a word that Charles O’Conor ever wrote upon government. Fortunately, two days after the appearance of this reckless innuendo, the New York “Herald” printed the appeal lately made by Mr. O’Conor to the citizens of Nantucket to prevent the execution of a scheme of greedy office-seekers to fleece them through the financial mechanism of an alleged public improvement,— an appeal which may be found in another column of this paper. In this document Anarchistic doctrines are announced so flatly that the Boston “Herald” was obliged to admit the truth of Liberty’s original assertion. But, feeling that it would never do to give the Anarchists the advantage of such an honorable name, what does this low-lived sheet do but straightway attempt to foully smirch it! Here is what it says: “It comes out at last. The reason why Charles O’Conor sympathized with the Nihilists and Anarchists appears to have been that he was disgusted at the danger of increased taxes in Nantucket from a proposed general system of drainage. It was a question of pocket, not principle, with the overestimated O’Conor.” The generosity and gratitude of this paragraph are made beautifully manifest by the remembrance that Mr. O’Conor, at about the same time that he issued the appeal in question, paid out of his own pocket, wicked miser that he was, the entire debt of Nantucket, amounting to thousands on thousands of dollars. What a dirty, diabolical, damnable lie! Oh, Mr. Herald Editor, are you rot, ashamed of yourself? Or are you utterly shameless? The man who wrote the words which I have quoted is a wilful liar, and the man responsible for the editorial column in which he wrote them shares equally in his guilt. The name of the former I do not know; the name of the latter is E. B. Haskell.
“If the assertion of political economists is to be acepted, that the aim of governments is to maintain well the largest number of men to an acre of land, I think,” says General Butler, “the Chinese have solved the problem.” General Butler can say more foolish things than any other man of equal wisdom and intelligence, and this is one of his queer blunders. In the first place, he ought to know and probably does know that most of the assertions of the political economists are to be accepted with great caution and not without the most rigid examination. The political economists, as a rule, do not reason well. In the next place, General Butler knows that, owing to the manner in which the Chinese have solved tho problem of government, periodical famines kill them off by the million. If the government which has existed the longest of any on earth and got the problem solved can arrive at nothing better than periodical famine, the world had better try getting along without government for a change.
The German consul at Boston sent a messenger to me a few days ago to get copies of the last three issues of Liberty. Is Bismarck making a collection of incendiary literature?
The commission sent by Japan to examine and report on the influence of Christianity upon the morals of England spent eighteen months in London, and concluded that it would be unwise to change the religion of Japan. But the good work of spreading the gospel among the heathen still calls for the pennies of the pious.
To the Radical Review.
Dear Radical, I stumble over one of your roots, in your last October 20, commenting on an excellent article of the “Times” with most sensible approbation, you conclude with the following monstrosity (if quoted from the “Times,” so much the worse): “To establish itself, and against any policy based on divine authority, human government has not only the right, but the duty to call into requisition all the forces at its command.”
Were that sentence isolated, as stating a general issue between “divine authority” and “human government,” I should not object to it; for these are precisely the two Kilkenny cats that I should like to see tied together by the tails, until they had eliminated each other; for I think that about the time the last particle of fur disappeared on the wings of the breeze, perhaps Man might wake to life. It would be an interesting experiment. I only wish, the combatants were more of a size; but not by making Utah any bigger. Here the evils of polygamy and the clerical invention which imposes it in the interest of a local theocracy fades into moonlight shadow beside the gigantic spectre of Uncle Sam marching at the head of his armies to moralize the universe. I believe in letting people make their own mistakes and abide by the consequences; free to correct them when they come to know better. I agree with you and the “Times,” to send Colonel Ingersoll at the head of a missionary corps, two-thirds lady lecturers, to Utah (i.e., if Barkis is willing). Were I eloquent enough, I would elect myself to such a mission, or — what would be more to the purpose — organize a corps of the world’s greatest dramatists, authors, actors, and musicians, with a rear guard of novelists, against Mormondom. But the idea of the United States doing anything so rational!!! Why don’t you see that, in proportion as this or any other great public use commends itself to reason, the more overwhelming becomes the absurdity of supposing a government’s doing it? The natural function of governments is to blow people’s brains out, not to put common sense into them. Make up a congress of such mental calibre as Calhoun, Clay, and Webster, throwing in Emersons, Phillipses, and Bismarcks, and out of these varieties of genius you shall evolve legislative idiocy. The mountain will still bring forth the mouse in saecula saeculorum.
The Mormons settled Utah. It belongs to them by moral right. Ethically, the United States’ claim to interfere with them is no better than that to the possession of an island on which some ship captain has hoisted a flag. There is nothing but fanaticism, or might makes right, behind each claims. Here the natural right to the soil by personal occupation, labor, and improvements, carries with it the right to play the fool within that local circumscription. Ideas have the ethical right of invasion, for they extrude no settlers; they are seed that grow only where the soil pleases. Ideas, conjugated with sentiments, form the army of Liberty. The fine arts are sutlers that follow in its train. Ask that reign of terror which forfeited to France and to Humanity the results of unparalleled devotion to principle whether political fanaticism is any less hateful than religious fanaticism. Harness these two devils together, with Uncle Sam on the carriage box, and society will make rapid progress backward to the times of the Crusades. If I believed in any other than self-government and the spontaneous combination of wills to meet emergencies, I should regard local or state sovereignty as the only possible basis of a permanent Union. Unless we can agree to disagree, we must explode, Utah may prove a dynamite factory. Between two deaths give me rather dissolution into savagery than the despotism of a puritan government.
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.