“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.
When Victor Hugo was asked to sign the petition for Prince Kropotkine’s release, printed in another column, he wrote on the margin at the top of the page the following words: “All questions of amnesty have an interest for me, and I take particularly to heart this petition in favor of the liberation of Prince Kropotkine.” The great French poet evidently does not read the Boston “Advertiser”; else he would have known that Kropotkine is a disorderly ignoramus whom Frenchmen are not supposed ever to have heard of, still less take interest in.
John Morley, the discriminating biographer of eminent Freethinkers and the positivist who spells god with a small “g” in his books, heretofore apparently one of the fairest and truest men in England, has made himself suddenly unpopular among English radicals, and of course correspondingly popular among the more numerous conservatives, by approving in his paper, the “Pall Mall Gazette,” the recent outrageous sentences for blasphemy. Explanation: John Morley has been elected a member of parliament. As M. D. Conway says, in becoming a partisan of Gladstone he has become a partisan of Gladstone’s god.
As if the despatches which the cable brings us concerning the political and industrial situation in Europe were not sufficiently stupid and erroneous in themselves, the omniscient editor of the Boston “Herald” has adopted a practice of supplementing them in his news columns with elaborate comment and alleged elucidation of his own. His explanations seldom explain and often mislead. A few weeks ago an election was held in the twentieth arrondissement of Paris to choose a successor to Gambetta in the chamber of deputies. No candidate receiving a majority of the votes cast, a second election was held some days later. When the news of the result reached the “Herald,” the editor appended a statement recalling and summarizing the vote of the first election. After misspelling almost beyond recognition the names of most of the candidates, he commented upon the small vote thrown for “Jules Guesde, the Anarchist candidate,” as showing the weakness of the Anarchistic party even in Belleville, the stronghold of radicalism. Now, to appreciate the idiocy of this untruth it is only necessary to know that Guesde, far from being an Anarchist, stands at the very opposite pole of political belief, and, instead of wishing the abolition of the State, wishes the absorption of almost everything by the State. In fact, he is the principal representative of Marxism in France. An Anarchist would as soon think of voting for Prince Jerome as for Jules Guesde. Moreover, full-fledged Anarchists never vote at all. “Abstention from the Polls” is one of the rallying-cries of their party, and that it was vigorously sounded in the ears of Gambetta’s old constituents is shown by the manifesto printed in another column. When the editor of the “Herald” has occasion again to estimate the strength of the Anarchists of Belleville, let him ascertain the number of voters that remained at home on election-day, and he will come nearer to the truth. Perhaps he will also find that their ranks are steadily swelling.
The trial of E. H. Heywood, which began on Tuesday, April 10, is drawing to a close as we go to press, and before our readers see this paragraph the telegraph will probably announce to the country the verdict of the jury. Up to this point the results have been eminently satisfactory, and have firmly established the wisdom of our advice to Mr. Heywood to conduct his own case. The presiding judge, Nelson, an exceptionally fair-minded man, who interprets the law as far as possible in such a way as to promote justice in the broad sense without too rigid regard to technicality,— in this respect just the opposite of the narrow-minded bigot, Clark, before whom Mr. Heywood was formerly tried,— summarily ordered a verdict of “not guilty” on those counts of the indictment referring to “Cupid’s Yokes” and the selections from “Leaves of Grass,” on the ground that the government had committed an error in omitting the documents complained of from the indictment for the alleged reason that they were unfit to be spread upon the record. The judge said that, while not undertaking to pass upon the question whether the documents were obscene within the meaning of the statute, he should rule as a matter of law that they contained not a word which would contaminate the record and that he could see no excuse for the government in drawing an indictment in so loose and imperfect a form. It was evident from his manner that he did not consider the documents obscene at all, and when the district attorney ventured the astounding proposition that to oppose legal marriage is necessarily obscene, Judge Nelson could not repress a smile. This action, while it does not absolutely prevent re-arrest on the same charges embodied in more perfect indictments, will probably discourage Comstock from further warfare upon “Cupid’s Yokes” and “Leaves of Grass,” at least in Massachusetts. Mr. Heywood is now on trial on the narrow issue of the Comstock syringe, which we originally pointed out to him as his chief source of danger. Much depends upon the judge’s charge, which probably will be as liberal as he can make it under the law; but the outrageous statute is so plain that he has not much choice in the matter. The defendant’s only hope lies in the possibility of some member of the jury refusing to be a party to the outrage which the law allows. Mr. Heywood personally is making a fine impression upon the jury, and we are glad to say that the prospect is bright for at least a disagreement. [Later. — The jury returned a verdict Thursday afternoon of “not guilty” on each and every count. The judge’s charge was grand, one of his rulings being that Mr. Comstock had practised a deception, and that the morality or immorality of this act should be considered by the jury in deciding how much credence to give to Comstock’s testimony. With another judge the verdict probably would have been different.]
Probably many people think us very severe and unjust to women when we oppose their efforts to get possession of the ballot, that modern instrument of tyranny, and when we assert that, if they had it, they would put it to more monstrous uses than those for which it is now employed. Well, here’s an instance. Liberty exchanges with a San Francisco journal called the “Woman’s Herald of Industry,” edited and published by Mrs. J. W. Stow, president of the Woman’s social Science Association. The last issue soberly proposes castration as the solution of the social question. The editor says: “The ‘Herald of Industry’ would have the surgeon’s knife destroy the possibility of a young crop of drunkards, wherever and whenever a man became an incurable sot; it would have all persons, men and women, tainted with insanity deprived of the power of reproducing their kind; it would have every person guilty of incest, every felon, idiot, and wife-beater castrated.” This is what she calls “the scientific control of the reproductive function in the human,” and because of the discovery of this “radical cure” she thinks “the lamp of reason has been lighted and its flame fills the high arch of the heaven of progress.” If castration is the flame of the lamp of reason, and if this flame is burning in any such proximity to the celestial arch referred to, we fear that its heat will speedily crumble the keystone and that the whole structure will soon tumble into ruins. The position thus taken arouses the ire of the “Herald of Industry’s” London correspondent, who writes as follows: “It seems to me a great mistake for women who are striving to gain from man a share in the power of law making to show what a law they would make against the men if they had the power. Even I, though a warm advocate for ‘woman’s rights’ in every direction where they have rights not yet conceded to them, would seek to withhold power from them, till they show themselves capable of wielding it wisely and soberly! The proposition of castration as a punishment I consider a proof of want of soberness of mind and quiet and patient thought. This is to me, not social science, but social quackery.” We should say so! And it is but just to the women to say that one of the promptest protests against this brutal proposition comes from a woman, Mrs. Juliet H. Severance, M. D., of Milwaukee, from whose letter to the “Herald of Industry” we extract the following: “Your proposition to make castration the penalty for misused sexuality and by so doing thereby lessen the condition of crime and pauperism seems to me simply monstrous, and is no proper remedy for either. I can not see that the destruction of any organ that executes the will of perverted or badly generated minds can be other than an interference with the chances for development of the individual, which should be the grand consideration and aim, and not their destruction. As well recommend amputating the hands for larceny, or cutting out the tongue for vulgarity and slander. These methods belong to the Dark Ages and not to the latter half of the nineteenth century.” But Mrs. Severance, it must be remembered, is one in a million, for she is a reader of Liberty and has but little faith, we suspect, in the efficacy of suffrage. Naturally she will have less than ever after this attempt to herald the industry of castration. In another part of the paper we find this statement: “If only one woman in the world appreciates the power of the ballot, she should have it.” Liberty submits that Mrs. Stow’s advocacy of compulsory castration sufficiently shows that at least one woman appreciates the power of the ballot, but that this proves, if it proves anything, that she should NOT have it.
“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.
Karl Marx as Friend and Foe.
By the death of Karl Marx the cause of labor has lost one of the most faithful friends it ever had. Liberty says thus much in hearty tribute to the sincerity and hearty steadfastness of the man who, perhaps to a greater extent than any other, represented, by nature and by doctrine, the principle of authority which we live to combat. Anarchism knew in him its bitterest enemy, and yet every Anarchist must hold his memory in respect. Strangely minded feelings of admiration and abhorrence are simultaneously inspired in us by contemplation of this great man’s career. Toward the two fundamental principles of the revolution of to-day he occupied an exactly contradictory attitude. Intense as was his love of equality, no less so was his hatred of liberty. The former found expression in one of the most masterly expositions of the infamous nature and office of capital ever put into print; the latter in a sweeping scheme of State supremacy and absorption, involving a practical annihilation of the individual. The enormous service done by the one was well-nigh neutralized by the injurious effects resulting from his advocacy of the other. For Karl Marx, the égalitaire, we feel the profoundest respect; as for Karl Marx, the autoritaire, we must consider him an enemy. Liberty said as much in its first issue, and sees no reason to change its mind. He was an honest man, a strong man, a humanitarian, and the promulgator of much vitally important truth, but on the most vital question of politics and economy he was persistently and irretrievably mistaken.
We cannot, then, join in the thoughtless, indiscreet, and indiscriminate laudation of his memory indulged in so generally by the labor press and on the labor platform. Perhaps, however, we might pass it by without protest, did it not involve injustice and ingratitude to other and greater men. The extravagant claim of precedence as a radical political economist put forward for Karl Marx by his friends must not be allowed to overshadow the work of his superiors. We give an instance of this claim, taken from the resolutions passed unanimously by the great Cooper Union meeting held in honor of Marx: “In the field of social economic science he was the first to prove by statistical facts and by reasoning based upon universally recognized principles of political economy that capitalistic production must necessarily lead to the monopolizing and concentrating of all industry into the hands of a few, and thus, by robbing the working class of the fruits of their toil, reduce them to absolute slavery and degradation.” These words were read to the audience in English by Philip Van Patten and in German by our worthy comrade Justus Schwab. Is it possible that these men are so utterly unaequainted with the literature of socialism that they do not know this statement to be false, and that the tendency and consequences of capitalistic production referred to were demonstrated to the world time and again during the twenty years preceding the publication of “Das Kapital,” with a wealth of learning, a cogency and subtlety of reasoning, and an ardor of style to which Karl Marx could not so much as pretend? In the numerous works af P. J. Proudhon, published between 1840 and 1860, this notable truth was turned over and over and inside out until well-nigh every phase of it had been presented to the light.
What was the economic theory developed by Karl Marx? That we may not be accused of stating it unfairly, we give below an admirable outline of it drawn by Benoit Malon, a prominent French socialist, in sympathy with Marx’s thought. Aside from the special purpose which we have in quoting it, it is in itself well worth the space which it requires, being in the main a succinct and concise statement of the true principles of political economy:—
All societies that have existed thus far in history have one common characteristic,— the struggle of classes. Revolutions have changed the conditions of this struggle, but have not suppressed it. Though the bourgeoisie has taken the place of feudalism, which was itself the successor of the old patrician order, and though slavery and serfdom have been succeeded by the prolétariat, the situation has retained these two distinctive characteristics,— “the merciless oppression and exploitation of the inferior class by the dominant class, and the struggle, either open or concealed, but deadly and constant, of the classes thus confronting each other.”
The bourgeoisie, to obtain power, had to invoke political and economic liberty. In the name of the latter, which it has falsified, and aided by scientific and industrial progress, it has revolutionized production and inaugurated the system of capitalistic production under which all wealth appears as an immense accumulation of merchandise formed elementarily upon an isolated quantity of that wealth.
Everything destined for the satisfaction of a human need has a value of utility; as merchandise it has a value of exchange. Value of exchange is the quantitative relation governing the equivalence and exchangeability of useful objects.
As the most eminent economists have shown, notably Ricardo, this quantitative relation, this measure of value, is time spent in labor. This, of course, can refer only to the amount of labor necessary upon an average and performed with average skill, mechanical facilities, and industry under the normal industrial conditions of the day.
It seems, therefore, that every one should be able to buy, in return for his labor, an amount of utilities and exchangeable values equivalent to those produced by him.
Nevertheless such is not the case. “The accumulation of wealth at one of the poles of society keeps pace with the accumulation, at the other pole, of the misery, subjection, and moral degradation of the class from whose product capital is born.”
How happens this? Because, by a series of robberies which, though sometimes legal, are none the less real, the productive forces, as fast as they have come into play, have been appropriated by privileged persons, who, thanks to this instrumenturn regni, control labor and exploit laborers.
To-day he who is destined to become a capitalist goes into the market furnished with money. He first buys tools and raw materials, and then, in order to operate them, buys the workingman’s power of labor, the sole source of value. He sets them to work. The total product goes into the capitalist’s hands, who sells it for more than it cost him. Of the plus-value capital is born, it increases in proportion to the quantity of plus-value or labor not paid for. All capital, then, is an accumulation of the surplus labor of another or labor not paid for in wages.
For this singular state of things individuals are not to be held responsible: it is the result of our capitalistic society, for all events, all individual acts are but the processus of inevitable forces slowly modifiable, since, “when a society has succeeded in discovering the path of the natural law which governs its movement, it can neither clear it at a leap nor abolish by decree the phases of its natural development. But it can shorten the period of gestation and lessen the pains of delivery.”
We cannot, then, go against the tendencies of a society, but only direct them toward the general good. So capitalistic society goes on irresistibly concentrating capital.
To attempt to stop this movement would be puerile; the necessary step is to pass from the inevitable monopolization of the forces of production and circulation to their nationalization, and that by a series of legal measures resulting from the capture of political power by the working classes.
In the meantime the evil will grow. By virtue of the law of wages the increase in the productivity of labor by tlie perfecting of machinery increases the frequency of dull scasrns and makes poverty more general by diminishing the demand for and augmenting the supply of laborers.
That is easily understood.
For the natural production of values of utility determined and regulated by real or fancied needs, which was in vogue until the eighteenth century, is substituted the mercantile production of values of exchange, a production without rule or measure, which runs after the buyer and stops in its headlong course only when the markets of the world are gorged to overflowing. Then millions out of the hundreds of millions of prolétaires who have been engaged in this production are thrown out of work and their ranks are thinned by hunger, all in consequence of the superabundance created by an unregulated production.
The new economic forces which the bourgeoisie has appropriated have not completed their development, and even now the bourgeoise envelope of capitalistic production can no longer contain them. Just as industry on a small scale was violently broken down because it obstructed production, so capitalistic privileges, beginning to obstruct the production which they developed, will be broken down in their turn, for the concentration of the means of production and the socialization of labor are reaching a point which renders them incompatible with their capitalistic envelope.
At this point the prolétariat, like the bourgeoisie, will seize political power for the purpose of abolishing classes and socializing the forces of production and circulation in the same order that they have been monopolized by capitalistic feudalism.
The foregoing is an admirable argument, and Liberty endorses the whole of it, excepting a few phrases concerning the nationalization of industry and the assumption of political power by the working people; but it contains literally nothing in substantiation of the claim made for Marx in the Cooper Institute resolutions. Proudhon was years before Marx with nearly every link in this logical chain. We stand ready to give volume, chapter, and page of his writings for the historical persistence of class struggles in successive manifestations, for the bourgeoisie’s appeal to liberty and its infidelity thereto, for the theory that labor is the source and measure of value; for the laborer’s inability to repurchase his product in consequence of the privileged capitalist’s practice of keeping back a part of it from his wages, and for the process of the monopolistic concentration of capital and its disastrous results. The vital difference between Proudhon and Marx is to be found in the respective remedies which they proposed. Marx would nationalize the productive and distributive forces; Proudhon would individualize and associate them. Marx would make the laborers political masters; Proudhon would abolish political mastership entirely. Marx would abolish usury by having the State lay violent hands on all industry and business and conduct it on the cost principle; Proudhon would abolish usury by disconnecting the State entirely from industry and business and forming a system of free banks which would furnish credit at cost to every industrious and deserving person and thus place the means of production within the reach of all. Marx believed in compulsory majority rule; Proudhon believed in the voluntary principle. In short, Marx was an autoritaire; Proudhon was a champion of Liberty.
Call Marx, then, the father of State socialism, if you will; but we dispute his paternity of the general principles of economy on which all schools of socialism agree. To be sure, it is not of the greatest consequence who was first with these doctrines. As Proudhon himself asks: “Do we eulogize the man who first perceives the dawn?” But if any discrimination is to be made, let it be a just one. There is much, very much, that can be truly said in honor of Karl Marx. Let us be satisfied with that, then, and not attempt to magnify his grandeur by denying, belittling, or ignoring the services of men greater than he.
Anarchism and Republicanism.
The fixed and inevitable logic of the problem of government, per se, not less than the steady logic of events, renders Anarchy the certain outcome of social evolution. The, so to speak, centrifugal force of government is universal suffrage; the centripetal is centralization. The compromise between these two opposing forces fixes the governmental orbit in which society in a given nation moves.
Republicanism is, in its essence, a revolt against centralization. It is an attempt to segregate the function of sovereignty. Instead of the big trumpet of the czar, it proposes to furnish every freeman with a little penny trumpet of authority, so that the big executive trumpet shall be but the echo of all the little trumpets. Its sublime logic assumes that a command blown from one big trumpet is despotism, while, if the same command be blown from a majority of little trumpets, it becomes the sacred and morally binding voice of Liberty.
The chief problem of Republicanism is to furnish everybody with a little trumpet. Very naturally, then, the women claim that they have as good a right to blow their own penny trumpets of Republicanism as the men. Why not? The average woman suffragist furnishes ample presumptive evidence that she would make as good a blower as any other man, if she had a trumpet. Then, too, as Charles Sumner argued, if we are going to have a Republic, the woolly-headed Sambo of the Carolinas has the natural right to blow as big a trumpet in the affairs of government as the president of the United States; for, verily, hath not McGuinness, the corner gin-slinger, become an alderman among us, and Big Mike, the man-slayer, a county judge? Yet whosoever should propose to take the electoral penny trumpet from one of the least of these would be accounted a traitor.
But as the trumpets multiply in the hands ot Sambo, Big Mike, and McGuinness, astounding exhibitions of political total depravity also multiply with them, and begin to startle men of serious bent.
It is found that, although theoretically the trumpet of Big Mike is no bigger than that of the venerable Peter Cooper, yet, stationed, on the stoop of MuGuinness’s corner groggery, he is master of all the other trumpets, and one little flourish of his is sufficient to seat McGuinness in the highest chair of dignity, honor, and emolument known among his voting cattle.
Very naturally, with such daily exhibitions before their eyes, men of honest industry, education, refinement, and conscience begin to shrink from the prospect of seeing their wives and daughters flourishing penny electoral trumpets in rivalry with Big Mike or McGuinness on the corner of Gin Lane, or sailing up the dark waters of Salt River in the same boat with Sambo. But here even lofty and sturdy Romans like Wendell Phillips step to the rescue and plead: “Aye, from the very fact that these dirty fellows have fouled the sink of politics, therefore must ye fling your wives and daughters among them to purify them, and yea, verily, because Sambo, Big Mike, and McGuinness will blow their trumpets in all vileness, even so much the more ought they to have them, seeing that it is the first business of all true republican gentlemen to leave their business and educate such unto righteous trumpeting.”
Into such astonishing straits of unreason have otherwise noble and thoughtful reformers been wedged in defence of Republicanism. The original fatal error consists in recognizing the business of trumpeting as authority to bind others without their consent. The scheme of eliminating the crime of the czar by melting his big trumpet into millions of little ones and putting them into everybody’s hands is universal suffrage. It has been, perhaps, necessary in the course of social evolution, but it is simply the original crime manifolded. The scheme of universal suffrage is rapidly reaching the end of its rope in France and the United States, and the signs of reaction are every day more and more plainly manifest. Long ago Mr. Phillips announced that Republicanism was a settled failure in the big cities of America. If his noble life is spared a few years longer, he may die renouncing his faith in the whole delusion of political penny trumpeting.
The Anarchist alone is able to cast an unclouded eye on the whole drift of things. He denies at one stroke the authority of any individual or combination of individuals to govern others without their consent. And this denial is not one dictated by passion, mental confusion, or madness, but it is based upon a concisely demonstrated philosophy rooted in the integral coonstitution of man and society. Scientific anarchism is the very perfection of order. It is the science of transforming chaos into self-governing social organization. Study it, friends, as you behold the present rotten political makeshifts dropping to pieces. It is most certainly destined to be the order of the world’s tomorrow.
Dr. Edward B. Aveling, a scientific man of note in England, has taken editorial charge of the “Freethinker” during the imprisonment of its editor and publishers recently convicted of blasphemy. The first number appearing under his management contained some verses beginning thus:
Once more a Christian judge and jury,
Brimful of heavenly love and fury,
Have sent three honest men to prison
To prove that Jesus Christ is risen.
The Foolishness of Voting.
Prior to the recent election in the twentieth arrondissement of Paris for the choice of a successor to Gambetta, the Anarchistic groups, in accordance with their principles, did not nominate a candidate, but instead placarded the following manifesto throughout the district:
Once more you are called upon to name a Deputy,— that is, to choose a new master. Will you fall again into the errors of the past and sanction your subjection by depositing a vote in the ballot-box? Reflect! There is yet time, solemn though the hour be.
What! Have we not had sufficient experience of the parliamentary system? For forty years universal suffrage has existed; for twelve years it has been working in all its splendor; it has become the keystone of the prevailing governmental system. What has it produced? What results has it given us?
Our economic condition, far from improving, only grows worse from day to day. Wages fall; rents rise; the necessities of life grow dearer; misery keeps steadily increasing! What have the elect of universal suffrage done, what have they tried to do, to remedy this situation?
Nothing, absolutely nothing!
Have they given us any of the political reforms promised and expected for so many long years? Here, as elsewhere, none! In the matter of liberty of the press they suppress socialistic journals; in the matter of liberty of meeting they imprison citizens who do not think with the government and find all not for the best in the worst of republics.
Should we be astonished that this is so? Clearly not. These elect of universal suffrage are fulfilling the requirements of their role, and it could not be otherwise. Parliamentary assemblies being made up for the most part - we might even say entirely — of the privileged of fortune, all their decisions must inevitably tend to the advantages of the class to which these privileged belong.
A government is necessary, indispensable, to maintain their prerogatives and enforce respect for their privileges by all means and especially by force. Army, police, religions, courts, jails are so many barriers to arrest the revolutionary flood, brutalize the people, and keep them in ignorance.
If, perchance, a laborer, a man of the people, gets into parliament, all his good intentions, his desire to do good, are inevitably crushed out. Gradually, without even noticing it himself, he is sucked into the corrupting vortex with which he is brought in contact and completely loses sight of his point of departure. Have we not at present in the chamber of deputies and in the municipal councils so-called socialists and even revolutionists? What do we gain thereby? Absolutely nothing!
Looking at the question from another standpoint, do we not often see a comrade in the workshop become a foreman and change from the good and generous fellow of the night before into a worse oppressor than the employer himself? What would he be should he become a deputy?
You will be asked to vote for candidacies of protest [that is, for men whom imprisonment for political offences has rendered ineligible]; do not follow the advice of men whom we are willing to believe honest but who would lead you into a fatal path. The only result of supporting such candidates would be new popularity for universal suffrage and postponement of the hour of our emancipation.
Do you think that the revolutionary acts of Montceau-les-Mines and the iniquitous sentences of the Lyons judges have not accomplished more than a hundred thousand ballots? Do you believe that the death of any despot or tyrant whatsoever is not much more effective than a protest which after all is platonic only?
Do not fear that by abstaining you will put weapons into the hands of the reaction; far from being useful, your conduct will be quite as fatal to it as to our pseudo-republicans. Do not listen to the lying and interested complaints of the politicians of all shades who are afraid of seeing all their dreams of ambition and fortune shattered by your manly determination.
It is beyond doubt that, if universal suffrage had been a weapon capable of emancipating the people, our bourgeois governors would have suppressed it long since. But they have seen that, while reflecting in the eyes of the simple a semblance of sovereignty, it would only serve as a prop for their own privileges. If such were not the case, should we see monarchical governments adopting it and using it as one of the most potent instruments of tyranny?
In face of the situation which confronts you, Laborers, will you continue to be dupes? Will you forever pickle rods for your own backs? Refuse, then, to take part in this bourgeoise comedy, and recognize with us that universal suffrage is the greatest MYSTIFICATION of the century.
Be they radicals or socialists, bourgeois or workingmen, come they down from above or up from below, deputies are always possessors of arbitrary power and despotic authority, while what we loudly clamor for is Liberty. Not the lying label of liberty pasted upon our public monuments; we want it full, entire, with its immediate, inseparable corollary, Equality in fact.
As long as the power to monopolize social wealth shall exist, society will be divided into two classes,— masters and slaves, governors and governed, exploiters and exploited; as long as any individual whomsoever shall grow rich on the labor of his fellow, Liberty and Equality will be but a deceptive illusion.
We wish every human being to be completely free, dependent upon no other for the means of existence. Our motto is the grand formula of the Anarchistic Communists: To each according to his needs.
Laborer, it is to the realization of this future of justice that we invite you. There is no need of legislators to reach it. Only the victorious Revolution, sweeping away all parasites and all masters, will restore you your rights and your liberty.
Therefore Do Not Vote!
Just as you do not go to church, just as you do not send your sons there, so your duty is to keep away from the ballot-box, for in connecting yourself with this bourgeoise trickery you will admit the right of your elect to hold you in slavery.
Leave the candidates to their programmes! Remember the renegades of the past, all the purchased creatures who on the eve of their nomination promised you mountains and miracles and on the morrow laughed at you.
Abstain, therefore! You have something better to do than send these fantoches to grow fat at the Palais-Bourbon! Keep your strength for manly deeds; do not limit yourself to protests, but act!
Your duty is to avoid the narrow circle of electoral quarrels; to spread by all means the spirit of revolt among the masses; to group all the disinherited, all the downtrodden, all the victims of the existing social hell, and show them the final goal: THE EMANCIPATION OF THE WORLD, THE SOCIAL REVOLUTION.
England’s Conduct Toward Ireland.
The publication of the following article, seat us many weeks ago, has been unavoidably delayed:
The action of the English government in relation to Ireland is the most remarkable, and at the same time the most vile and contemptible,— one day making promises never intended to be kept, another day applying the most severe coercive measures that were ever enacted, and during the whole time allowing full liberty of action to its own officials and those who act in the same of the crown and government. The whole system is immoral, and is even more degrading to the government than to its victims. A strange state of things this for the most enlightened nation of the day,— for a nation that professes sympathy with the oppressed of every land without regard to creed, color, or country.
Among the many prosecutions that are now taking place at the instance of the government, the first we shall notice is that of the editor of “United Ireland,” Mr. W. O’Brien. The cause of this prosecution is an article headed “Accusing Spirits,” and had reference to the late executions in Ireland on what is alleged to be insufficient evidence and the purchased testimony of informers. Of all information in the world that of informers is the least reliable. This is known to everybody, is known to the government as well as to everybody else. No one can even pretend to ignore the fact. No government that had the least respect for its character, that had the least care for its reputation, that paid the least regard to the public opinion of the world, would ever condescend to accept and act upon the testimony of informers. Informers are beings whose word would never be accepted in private; their deeds duly qualify them for the regions of the damned; and for a government to act on the evidence of such creatures is something so revolting that it destroys not only our confidence in, but our respect for such a government.
But how much more revolting is it when a government not only accepts and acts upon the evidence of such creatures, but actually offers its thousands of pounds for their testimony, and even sums of five hundred pounds for private information. What an invitation to wilful perjury! What a field for private vengeance! What manifold opportunities for avenging imaginary wrongs, for the display of a spirit of religious hatred, for the exercise of a blind and blood-thirsty fanaticism. We have then at the very outset of the case ample cause to doubt the truth of the evidence on which the government acted. But the case becomes more serious still when there is an appearance of impartiality, the case being tried by a jury, and when there is every reason to believe that that jury was packed, thus making it certain that the purchased testimony would be accepted without question and the lives of men sacrificed. Under these circumstances the fullest liberty ought to be exercised by the press in criticising, not only the evidence, as far as it could be got at, but the verdict of the jury. And doubly base must that government be that can first purchase testimony of private or public informers, and then pack the jury to make conviction sure.
Then, what is the offence for which Mr. W. O’Brien is to be prosecuted? It is simply the writing and the publication of an article questioning the validity of the verdicts, and pointing out the fact that the men executed one and all protested their innocence when about to die, and when all hope had disappeared. Well, was there anything wrong in the publication of such an article? Was it not the duty of thc editor in question, nay, and the duty of the editor of every paper in the country, to record those facts and to boldly and fearlessly condemn such action on the part of the government. Then all honor to the editor of “United Ireland” for his honesty, his boldness, and his courage, when he knew the government with which he had to deal.
The article in question begins as follows:— “Two of these men spoke from the very gallows, with the noose round their necks. One moment more and if the protestation were a lie, they knew they were stepping into an eternity of torment. The world’s opinion was to them a feather’s weight. . . . Which are we to trust, man after man, as he faces the All-Seeing Judge, or the verdicts of tribunals carefully concocted to ‘convict murderers by hook or by crook?’ . . . The theory of the manipulators of the Crimes Act seems to be that somebody must be hanged,— the right person if possible, but at all events somebody. Again, the editor says: “We wish to avoid exaggerated language, for we recognise the gravity of the subject and of our own responsibility; but our attachment to the elementary principles of justice impels us deliberately to say that both as to the tribunal and as to the evidence the proceedings against these men bear an indelible taint of foul play. Upon their trials the ordinary detective machinery — vigilance, resource ingenuity to discover the scrap of evidence the intelligence to piece them together — counted for little. Packed juries and bribed witnesses were the all sufficient implements of justice. Anybody can govern with a state of siege, or win with loaded dice. When the art of trying a man consists in picking out of a panel twelve of his deadly enemies, and the production of evidence means chiefly the getting at the worst side of the veriest villain in the community, and humbly consulting his prepossessions as to the reward and the little precautions necessary to make the bed of the informer a bed of velvet, verdicts of guilty and hangings may be bad in any desired quantity. But if this is moral government in the Victorian era, why cut Strafford’s head off for tampering with Irish juries, or strike King James’s crown away for influencing the English ones, or hold Torquemada accursed because he did with hot pincers what the great and good Lord Spencer does with bags of gold? What is worst about the White Terror set up in Green street is the ghastly pretence that all is done to save the sacred right of trial by jury in Ireland; that it is necessary to pack juries that we may have juries at all; that it is better to convice man upon paid swearing than to adopt drumhead ideas of evidence. Out upon the impostors!” And so say we.
This, then, is the kind of government at the present day in poor Ireland. Would Englishmen tolerate such a system? We believe not. Low as Englishmen have fallen, base and cowardly and cringing as they have become, we do not, we cannot believe they would suffer such infamies to exist among themselves; they whose forefathers could send to the grave a headless monarch for crimes far less than those now perpetrated in Ireland, whose forefathers could tight, and bleed, and die on many a battlefield for right and liberty, would never suffer such things in England. Yet how morally degraded, how debased to tolerate in Ireland and in their name, and by their own government, what they would never suffer themselves in their own country.
The Ignorant “Advertiser.”
From an editorial in the Boston “Advertiser” of January 20, 1883.
A court in Lyons, France, has sentenced Prince Kropotkine to five years’ imprisonment for having incited anarchy among the miners of Montceau-les-Mines. The prisoner is said to be a man of hign attainments and pretends to be a descendant of Rurik. But it must be owned that his scientific writings have not reached fame in western Europe or this country, and as for his descent, that is a matter of faith and opinion. In Russia all sorts of people pretend to be sons of RUrik, just as hundrets of chairs and tables in New England are said to have crossed the sea in the Mayflower. All that is really know of Kropotkine is that he entertains a very low opinion of all those in authority. If he bore any resemblance to the great geographer Elisée Reclus, the world would be glad to read his books, though it may regret his absurd adventures. But it is difficult to think him a great scholar and reformer who tries to make the world better by exciting mere mischief among the miners of a French village.
A copy of a petition recently sent to the President of the French Republic.
We, the undersigned, British subjects and other, artists, men of science and letters, appeal to your clemency on behalf of Prince Peter Kropotkine sentenced at Lyons to five years’ detention in a French prison.
His exploration of Siberia and Finland is universally regarded as a masterpiece of scientific research. In Russia, the Imperial Geographical Society has published the great works in which he has set forth the results of his examination of the geological system of Finland. In France he is known as the author of the important chapters on Russia contained in the “Geographic Universelle” of M. Elisée Reclus. In England he has contributed during recent years to such periodicals as “Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society,” “Nature,” “Fortnightly Review,” “Nineteenths Century,” and others; while most of the articles on Russian Geography in the new edition of the “Encyclopaedia Britannica” are by him. Believing him to be capable of much that in his absence must necessarily remain unaccomplished in the interest of science, which is the interest of science, which is the interest of humanity, we implore your interference, and entreat that you will be pleased to restore him to the pursuit in which he excels and to the studies to which he has devoted his high abilites.
We make this appeal in the firm persuasion that the sentence passed upon him is practicaly a sentence of death. It is known that his health, broken by the hardship to which he was exposed during his journeys through Siberia, was further impaired by his long sojourn as a political prisoner in a Russian fortress, and that he is afflicted by gastric disease and with a severe form of scurvy. To deprive him of fresh air and of bodily freedom will be rapidly and surely to develop those ailments, and to inflict upon him much physical suffering and premature death.
In the hope that you will favorably entertain this petition your memorialists will ever pray.
Joseph Cowen, M.P., and others.
From the London correspondence of the Boston “Advertiser.”
Prince Kropotkine is very ill indeed, and can scarcely last out the year if confined in his cell. His articles in the “Fortnightly Review” and “Nineteenth Century” interested many persons in him, while his geographical contributions to the new edition of the “Encyclopaedia Britannica” are very thorough and valuable. His short residence in this country brought him into contact with some English radical and democrats, who all speak higly of his personal qualities. While here, he addressed great numbers of the miners of Northumberland and Durham with much success.
Lions and Governments.
To the Editor of Liberty:
Dear Sir,— If a man puts his head into a lion’s mouth, or suffers his head to be forced into a lion’s mouth, before he kills the lion, he makes a great mistake. It is a very easy thing to kill a lion; and it is always better to do it before he has got your head in his mouth, rather than afterwards; because, if you suffer him to get your head in his mouth before you kill him, he will then be very sure to kill you, instead of giving you another opportunity to kill him. When a man finds himself in the grasp of a hungry lion, he ought to know that it is a death grapple for one or the other; and that he has no time to lose, if he wishes to save his own life. He must put his knife into him instanter, or he is a dead man.
Now, a government is very much like a lion. It is a very easy thing to kill a government; and it is always better to do it before the government has killed you. But here is where nearly all persons make a mistake. They think they have no sufficient reason for killing a government, until the government has killed them; and then it is too late. Yet they all know, or ought to know, that a government is a merciless beast; that it lives on human beings; that a grapple between it and an individual is a death grapple for one or the other; and that the individual has no time to lose if he wishes to save himself. Therefore every man should at once do his best to kill the government, instead of waiting for the government to kilt him.
[Our correspondent’s remarks are aimed, we suppose, at persons who deliberately violate tyrannical laws, knowing that as a consequence they are almost sure to lose their lives or liberties. We do not think, in that case, that his analogy will hold. The individual who struggles with a lion is generally fighting for his own life only, and he would surely defeat his object by putting his head in the lion’s mouth. But the individual who struggles with a government — that is, if he be such as we have supposed — seldom has the salvation of his own life in view at all, but is fighting to secure the lives and liberties of all other individuals. He has seen that the people who are being slowly devoured by this “merciless beast” generally regard their devourer as a beneficent and indispensable friend and protector, and he deems it best to open their eyes by forcing the beast’s cruelty into direct and positive manifestation. So he puts his head in the government’s mouth, and suffers it to be bitten off. Acts like this have often been productive of the results intended, causing the victims to realize their situation and combine to kill the government. For ourselves, we believe the wisdom or folly of such a course can be determined only by the circumstances in any given case. At any rate we have nothing but honor for the men who put their heads in the government’s mouth. — Editor Liberty.]
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.