“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.
Six literary journals have been suppressed by the governor-general of Warsaw for praising Victor Hugo since his death.
A third edition of Lysander Spooner’s “Natural Law” and a fifth edition of Michael Bakounine’s “God and the State” are now ready.
In the death of T. C. Leland the Liberals have lost one of their brightest writers, hardest workers, and oldest servants. He belonged to the “Old Guard.”
A writer in “John Swinton’s Paper” wittily defines a “practical” man as “one who would rather go wrong than delay.” I know hundreds of such “practical” men. They call Davy Crockett and me, who prefer to be sure we’re right before going ahead, idealists, fanatics, and utopian dreamers.
The most horribly printed publication that I know anything about is “La Question Sociale,” a socialistic monthly that comes to me from Paris. It is so nearly illegible that one can get no satisfactory idea of the arguments of its writers. This, however, is matter for congratulation, if the following, which I have managed with difficulty to rescue from the confused masses of ink that deface its pages, be a fair sample of its contents. The editor prefaces an extract from Marx’s “Misery of Philosophy,” written in criticism of Proudhon, with these words: “Proudhon, on the publication of his ‘Economical Contradictions,’ wrote to Marx that he awaited his ‘critical ferule’ not without anxiety. But the Don Quixote of the Hegelian metaphysics was absolutely disconcerted by Marx’s vigorous reply. The ‘wild boar of dialectics’ preserved the most prudent silence; he published mountains ofn volumes on art, philosophy, and metaphysical abstractions, but never after did he issue any special work on political economy.” In italicizing these words I but emulate the cruelty of the printer to the author in failing to obscure this falsehood with the rest. What are the facts in this matter? Marx’s work appeared in 1847. During the seventeen years from 1848 to 1865 Proudhon published, besides many others, the following works: “Solution of the Social Problem,” “Organization of Credit and Circulation,” “The Bank of Exchange,” “The Bank of the People,” these four, gathered in one volume, constituting his chief constructive work in political economy; also “The Social Revolution,” “The Right to Labor and the Right of Property,” “The Tax on Incomes,” “Confessions of a Revolutionist,” “General Idea of the Revolution of the Nineteenth Century,” “Theory of Taxation,” “Literary Property-Titles,” “Justice According to the Revolution According to the Church,” and his discussion with Bastiat on interest. Some of these works deal exclusively with political economy, and all deal very largely with it. The line of thought begun in “What is Property?” and continued in the “Economical Contradictious” is followed out and concluded in these. Marx’s criticism did not turn him a hair from his course. He went ahead tirelessly to the day of his death, paying no heed whatever to the German State Socialist. And that is just what troubles the latter’s followers. They cannot answer Proudhon; they will not accept him; they must lie about him. But they should lie more shrewdly.
Wendell Phillips’s Grave.
A ragged urchin, half a score years old,
In Boston stood, accordeon in hand,
Beside that spot beneath whose grave-yard mold
In silence lay a patriotic band:
The humble heroes who with sword and gun
Opened the struggle that our fathers won.
The cold, bleak wind of a December eve
In angry gusts blew ’long the drifted street,
Where few of Fashion’s throng paused to relieve
The want that did melodiously entreat,
As e’er anew he strove, with childish art,
In time-worn tunes to reach some friendly heart.
No other tale of sorrow or distress
He tod, as there he stood with Poverty
Holding his instrument in soft caress,
Then flowed forth in his strains of melody.
Behind him cold and silent lay the dead;
Before him Christian Levites onward sped.
Beyond the railing lay ’neath sculptured stone
The men whose fame is wrought in Church and State:
Before the railing one of flesh and bone,
A waif of misery, the sport of fate.
On one side — nobles of a well-born race;
The other — driftwood of the populace!
But one who, gazing through the falling veil
Of gloom that twilight o’er the church-yard drew
To shroud the famous dead beyond the rail,
Upon whose tombs the lengthening shadows grew,
Musing with sadness on the strange contrast,
In softened tones addressed the poor outcast.
“My little man,” he asked, “canst tell me where
Within the grave of Wendell Phillips lies?”
A brigh’ning smile stole o’er the face of care
And animation beamed forth from his eyes;
He seemed transformed, his youthful besom swelled,
As if the name had care and want dispelled.
“Right here, sir,” answered he, “close where I stand;
It is the only one there that I know.”
Hear this, ye dead that Church and State term grand!
Ye living statesmen, bow your foreheads low!
The greater liberty which Phillips sought.
By outcast hearts and hands may yet be wrought!
O Phillips! Though no monumental shaft
May mark the spot where thou art laid to rest,
Thy name within the people’s heart ingraft
Far more than sculptor’s art thy fame attest.
No stone need rise beside that busy mart;
Thou hast thy urn in every lowly heart.
Contrast! O whisper not the slavish thought!
The soul that glowed beneath that ragged breast
Had bridged the chasm, and from thy soul had caught
The love that gave thy eloquence such zest;
And sweeter far that childish requiem
Than stately pomp or priest-blessed diadem.
Dyer D. Lum.
A Nihilist Wife.
The following is the closing portion of a letter from the Paris correspondent of the New York “Tribune,” written in view of the report that the new French administration intended to grant an amnesty in behalf of Prince Kropotkine and the other Anarchistic prisoners:
I never saw heroism in so lovable a form as in the Princess Kropotkine. I don’t know what her age is. But she might be a girl in her teens, or five-and-twenty. She has the rosebud freshness of youth, the bright, soft eyes of an affectionate and high-bred dog, with splendid gleams of human intellect and soul. The upper part of her face is broad and the under narrow and refined, although her mouth, when she laughs, is wide. But she has a dazzling set of teeth to show, and her lips, when in repose, are beautifully modelled and fresh as newly-blown roses. Her forehead also, by its breadth, height, and whiteness, brightens up her face. She seems to have the simplicity of a little child. Nobody to look at the pretty face as mantling blushes suffuse it would think that she escapes from the irksome weight of loneliness by plunging into the study of chemistry, mathematics, electricity, botany, and other sciences. She has resided in a poor lodging at Clairvaux in its only hotel since her husband was incarcerated in the prison there. Her voice is very sweet and her accent slightly languid. She never seems excited even when her heart is brimming over with grief. It has been her happy privilege within the last year to pay a daily visit in the parlor of the jail to Prince Kropotkine.
One day he came there with not a tooth in the front of his mouth. They had fallen out. His gums were so scorbutic from damp, want of air and exercise that they fell out as he was eating a piece of bread. He writes scientific articles for “Nature” and other journals, and she has been allowed to take them out of prison after the Governor read them. His heart being affected and blood decomposed, he is dropsical.
I believe the marriage of Prince and Princess Kropotkine is a Nihilist one. She has always been rather his disciple than his wife. Her tender admiration for him and devotion to him are boundless. Clairvaux is a day’s journey from Paris, and she has no society there. I asked her one evening whether her solitude weighed upon her. “No. I study so hard that I do not feel the time passing. The Prince’s moral elevation is so great that I can hardly pity him, although I see him falling to pieces. What weighs on me is the idea that, relatively to hundreds who are suffering for the cause of humanity, we are in great comfort and not shut out from human sympathy.”
The Princess Kropotkine is descended from the mother of that Princess Troubetskoy who volunteered to spend the greater part of a long married life in exile in Siberia with her husband. As Czarism is now pretty much what it was in the time of Nicholas, her story will be read with interest. The Princess Troubetskoy in question was also ancestress of the late Princess Orloff. Her husband, perceiving and disliking the stern temper and unrelenting will of Nicholas, joined in the Strelitzes’ revolt, the object of which was to break a family agreement in virtue of which Constantine the Second, brother of Alexander I. and rightful heir, was set aside. This revolt was put down ruthlessly. Troubetskoy was condemned to fourteen years in the mines and to pass the rest of his life in Siberia. His wife determined to go with him. It was her duty, and she would be happier in sharing his misery than in remaining behind him. Therefore she obtained an authorization to be buried alive with the much-loved convict. He walked from the Russian capital with a gang of fellow-prisoners, and she jolted *** rough roads in a springless tetiga. At the end of seven years of underground life she wrote to St. Petersburg to crave leave to send her little children there to be educated. When her letter was placed at the feet of the ***, he said that the children of galley slaves did not need a distinguished education. At the end of seven other years the Prince was taken from the depths where he and his family had lived, but relegated to a far-off and obscure Siberian station where they were more wretched than before. In the mines they had fellows in misfortune who had common remembrances of happier times. They were warm in their burrow in winter, they were pitied, and had medical assistance. But in the marshy moor to which they were afterward sent there was scarcely an inhabitant, and wolves and bears infested the birch woods around. The children, it was feared, would become savages. Their noble mother resolved to kiss the rod and humble herself before the Emperor. An attack of smallpox, from which they all suffered, braced up her resolution. So she implored to be removed to a station where there were a doctor and a schoolmaster. The neighborhoods of Tobolsk, Irkutsk, and Orenburg were suggested. The appeal of the Princess to Imperial clemency thus ended: “I have been plunged in the deepest misfortune. And yet, if I had the option a second time of leading a pleasant life at St. Petersburg or of following my husband to Siberia, I should elect to come here.” What did the Czar say? “The Princess was never exiled, and is free to come back. But her children were born on the Siberian side of the Ural Mountains, and in Siberia they stay.”
The state of things he thus created generated the bomb which blew up his son Alexander II. Before I saw the Princess Kropotkine I realized with difficulty the unyielding heroism in combination with womanly softness and almost childish grace which I heard were characteristics of her great-grandmother.
A Letter to Grover Cleveland:
His False, Absurd, Self-Cortradictory, and Ridiculous Inaugural Address.
By Lysander Spooner.
[The author reserves his copyright in this letter.]
To Grover Cleveland:
Sir,— Your inaugural address is probably as honest, sensible, and consistent a one as that of any president within the last fifty years, or, perhaps, as any since the foundation of the government. If, therefore, it is false, absurd, self-contradictory, and ridiculous, it is not (as I think) because you are personally less honest, sensible, or consistent than your predecessors, but because the government itself — according to your own description of it, and according to the practical administration of it for nearly a hundred years — is an utterly and palpably false, absurd, and criminal one. Such praises as you bestow upon it are, therefore, necessarily false, absurd, and ridiculous.
Thus you describe it as “a government pledged to do equal and exact justice to all men.”
Did you stop to think what that means? Evidently you did not; for nearly, or quite, all the rest of your address is in direct contradiction to it.
Let me then remind you that justice is an immutable, natural principle; and not anything that can be made, unmade, or altered by any human power.
It is also a subject of science, and is to be learned, like mathematics, or any other science. It does not derive its authority from the commands, will, pleasure, or discretion of any possible combination of men, whether calling themselves a government, or by any other name.
It is also, at all times, and in all places, the supreme law. And being everywhere and always the supreme law, it is necessarily everywhere and always the only law.
Lawmakers, as they call themselves, can add nothing to it, nor take anything from it. Therefore all their laws, as they call them,— that is, all the laws of their own making,— have no color of authority or obligation. It is a falsehood to call them laws; for there is nothing in them that either creates men’s duties or rights, or enlightens them as to their duties or rights. There is consequently nothing binding or obligatory about them. And nobody is bound to take the least notice of them, unless it be to trample them under foot, as usurpations. If they command men to do justice, they add nothing to men’s obligation to do it, or to any man’s right to enforce it. They are therefore mere idle wind, such as would be commands to consider the day as day, and the night as night. If they command or license any man to do injustice, they are criminal on their face. If they command any man to do anything which justice does not require him to do, they are simple, naked usurpations and tyrannies. If they forbid any man to do anything, which justice would permit him to do, they are criminal invasions of his natural and rightful liberty. In whatever light, therefore, they are viewed, they are utterly destitute of everything like authority or obligation. They are all necessarily either the impudent, fraudulent, and criminal usurpations of tyrants, robbers, and murderers, or the senseless work of ignorant or thoughtless men, who do not know, or certainly do not realize, what they are doing.
This science of justice, or natural law, is the only science that tells us what are, and what are not, each man’s natural, inherent, inalienable, individual rights, as against any and all other men. And to say that any, or all, other men may rightfully compel him to obey any or all such other laws as they may see fit to make, is to say that he has no rights of his own, but is their subject, their property, and their slave.
For the reasons now given, the simple maintenance of justice, or natural law, is plainly the one only purpose for which any coercive power — or anything bearing the name of government — has a right to exist.
It is intrinsically just as false, absurd, ludicrous, and ridiculous to say that lawmakers, so-called, can invent and make any laws, of their own, authoritatively fixing, or declaring, the rights of individuals, or that shall be in any manner authoritative or obligatory upon individuals, or that individuals may rightfully be compelled to obey, as it would be to say that they can invent and make such mathematics, chemistry, physiology, or other sciences, as they see fit, and rightfully compel individuals to conform all their actions to them, instead of conforming them to the mathematics, chemistry, physiology, or other sciences of nature.
Lawmakers, as they call themselves, might just as well claim the right to abolish, by statute, the natural law of gravitation, the natural laws of light, heat, and electricity, and all the other natural laws of matter and mind, and institute laws of their own in the place of them, and compel conformity to them, as to claim the right to set aside the natural law of justice, and compel obedience to such other laws as they may see fit to manufacture, and set up in its stead.
Let me now ask you how you imagine that your so-called lawmakers can “do equal and exact justice to all men,” by any so-called laws of their own making. If their laws command anything but justice, or forbid anything but injustice, they are themselves unjust and criminal. If they simply command justice, and forbid injustice, they add nothing to the natural authority of justice, or to men’s obligation to obey it. It is, therefore, a simple impertinence, and sheer impudence, on their part, to assume that their commands, as such, are of any authority whatever. It is also sheer impudence, on their part, to assume that their commands are at all necessary to teach other men what is, and what is not, justice. The science of justice is as open to be learned by all other men, as by themselves; and it is, in general, so simple and easy to be learned, that there is no need of, and no place for, any man, or body of men, to teach it, declare it, or command it, on their own authority.
For one, or another, of these reasons, therefore, each and every law, so-called, that forty-eight different congresses have presumed to make, within the last ninety-six years, have been utterly destitute of all legitimate authority. That is to say, they have either been criminal, as commanding or licensing men to do what justice forbade them to do, or as forbidding them to do what justice would have permitted them to do; or else they have been superfluous, as adding nothing to men’s knowledge of justice, or to their obligation to do justice, or abstain from injustice.
What excuse, then, have you for attempting to enforce upon the people that great mass of superfluous or criminal laws (so-called) which ignorant and foolish, or impudent and criminal, men have, for so many years, been manufacturing, and promulgating, and enforcing, in violation of justice, and of all men’s natural, inherent, and inalienable rights?
Perhaps you will say that there is no such science as that of justice. If you do say this, by what right, or on what reason, do you proclaim your intention “to do equal and exact justice to all men”? If there is no science of justice how do you know that there is any such principle as justice? Or how do you know what is, and what is not, justice? If there is no science of justice,— such as the people can learn and understand for themselves,— why do you say anything about justice to them? Or why do you promise them any such thing as “equal and exact justice,” if they do not know, and are incapable of learning, what justice is? Do you use this phrase to deceive those whom you look upon as being so ignorant, so destitute of reason, as to be deceived by idle, unmeaning words? If you do not, you are plainly bound to let us all know what you do mean, by doing “equal and exact justice to all men.”
I can assure you, sir, that a very large portion of the people of this country do not believe that the government is doing “equal and exact justice to all men.” And some persons are earnestly promulgating the idea that the government is not attempting to do, and has no intention of doing, anything like “equal and exact justice to all men”; that, on the contrary, it is knowingly, deliberately, and wilfully doing an incalculable amount of injustice; that it has always been doing this in the past, and that it has no intention of doing anything else in the future; that it is a mere tool in the hands of a few ambitious, rapacious, and unprincipled men; that its purpose, in doing all this injustice, is to keep — so far as they can without driving the people to rebellion — all wealth, and all political power, in as few hands as possible; and that this injustice is the direct cause of all the widespread poverty, ignorance, and servitude among the great body of the people.
Now, Sir, I wish I could hope that you would do something to show that you are not a party to any such scheme as that; something to show that you are neither corrupt enough, nor blind enough, nor coward enough, to be made use of for any such purpose as that; something to show that when you profess your intention “to do equal and exact justice to all men,” you attach some real and definite meaning to your words. Until you do that, is it not plain that the people have a right to consider you a tyrant, and the confederate and tool of tyrants, and to get rid of you as unceremoniously as they would of any other tyrant?
Sir, if any government is to be a rational, consistent, and honest one, it must evidently be based on some fundamental, immutable, eternal principle; such as every man may reasonably agree to, and such as every man may rightfully be compelled to abide by, and obey. And the whole power of the government must be limited to the maintenance of that single principle. And that one principle is justice. There is no other principle that any man can rightfully enforce upon others, or ought to consent to have enforced against himself. Every man claims the protection of this principle for himself, whether he is willing to accord it to others, or not. Yet such is the inconsistency of human nature, that some men — in fact, many men — who will risk their lives for this principle, when their own liberty or property is at stake, will violate it in the most flagrant manner, if they can thereby obtain arbitrary power over the persons or property of others. We have seen this fact illustrated in this country, through its whole history — especially during the last hundred years — and in the ease of many of the most conspicuous persons. And their example and influence have been employed to pervert the whole character of the government. It is against such men, that all others, who desire nothing but justice for themselves, and are willing to unite to secure it for all others, must combine, if we are ever to have justice established for any.
It is self-evident that no number of men, by conspiring, and calling themselves a government, can acquire any rights whatever over other men, or other men’s property, which they had not before, as individuals. And whenever any number of men, calling themselves a government, do anything to another man, or to his property, which they had no right to do as individuals, they thereby declare themselves trespassers, robbers, or murderers, according to the nature of their acts.
Men, as individuals, may rightfully compel each other to obey this one law of justice. And it is the only law which any man can rightfully be compelled, by his fellow men, to obey. All other laws, it is optional with each man to obey, or not, as he may choose. But this one law of justice he may rightfully be compelled to obey; and all the force that is reasonably necessary to compel him, may rightfully be used against him.
But the right of every man to do anything, and everything, which justice does not forbid him to do, is a natural, inherent, inalienable right. It is his right, as against any and all other men, whether they be many, or few. It is a right indispensable to every man’s highest happiness; and to every man’s power of judging and determining for himself what will, and what will not, promote his happiness. Any restriction upon the exercise of this right is a restriction upon his rightful power of providing for, and accomplishing, his own well-being.
Sir, these natural, inherent, inalienable, individual rights are sacred things. They are the only human rights. They are the only rights by which any man can protect his own property, liberty, or life against any one who may be disposed to take it away. Consequently they are not things that any set of either blockheads or villains, calling themselves a government, can rightfully take into their own hands, and dispose of at their pleasure, as they have been accustomed to do in this, and in nearly or quite all other countries.
Sir, I repeat that individual rights are the only human rights. Legally speaking, there are no such things as “public rights,” as distinguished from individual rights. Legally speaking, there is no such creature or thing as “the public.” The term “the public” is an utterly vague and indefinite one, applied arbitrarily and at random to a greater or less number of individuals, each and every one of whom have their own separate, individual rights, and none others. And the protection of time separate, individual rights is the one only legitimate purpose, for which anything in the nature of a governing, or coercive, power has a right to exist. And these separate, individual rights all rest upon, and can be ascertained only by, the one science of justice.
Legally speaking, the term “public rights” is as vague and indefinite as are the terms “public health,” “public good,” “public welfare,” and the like. It has no legal meaning, except when used to describe the separate, private, individual rights of a greater or less number of individuals.
In so far as the separate, private, natural rights of individuals are secured, in just so far, and no farther, are the “public rights” secured. In so far as the separate, private, natural rights of individuals are disregarded or violated, in just so far are “public rights” disregarded or violated. Therefore all the pretences of so-called lawmakers, that they are protecting “public rights,” by violating private rights, are sheer and utter contradictions and frauds. They are just as false and absurd as it would be to say that they are protecting the public health, by arbitrarily poisoning and destroying the health of single individuals.
The pretences of the lawmakers, that they are promoting the “public goods,” by violating individual “rights,” is just as false and absurd as is the pretence that they are protecting “public rights” by violating “private rights.” Sir, the greatest “public good,” of which any coercive power, calling itself a government, or by any other name, is capable, is the protection of each and every individual in the quiet and peaceful enjoyment and exercise of all his own natural, inherent, inalienable, individual “rights.” This is a “good” that comes home to each and every individual, of whom “the public” is composed. It is also a “good,” which each and every one of these individuals, composing “the public,” can appreciate. It is a “good,” for the loss of which governments can make no compensation whatever. It it a universal and impartial “good,” of the highest importance to each and every human being; and not any such vague, false, and criminal thing as the lawmakers — when violating private rights — tell us they are trying to accomplish, under the name of “the public good.” It is also the only “equal and exact justice,” which you, or anybody else, are capable of securing, or have any occasion to secure, to any human being. Let but this “equal and exact justice” be secured “to all men,” and they will then be abundantly able to take care of themselves, and secure their own highest “good.” Or if any one should ever chance to need anything more than this, he may safely trust to the voluntary kindness of his fellow men to supply it.
It is one of those things not easily accounted for, that men who would scorn to do an injustice to a fellow man, in a private transaction,— who would scorn to usurp any arbitrary dominion over him, or his property,— who would be in the highest degree indignant, if charged with any private injustice,— and who, at a moment’s warning, would take their lives in their hands, to defend their own rights, and redress their own wrongs,— will, the moment they become members of what they call a government, assume that they are absolved from all principles and all obligations that were imperative upon them, as individuals; will assume that they are invested with a right of arbitrary and irresponsible dominion over other men, and other men’s property. Yet they are doing this continually. And all the laws they make are based upon the assumption that they have now become invested with rights that are more than human, and that those, on whom their laws are to operate, have lost even their human rights. They seem to be utterly blind to the fact, that the only reason there can be for their existence as a government, is that they may protect those very “rights,” which they before scrupulously respected, but which they now unscrupulously trample upon.
To be continued.
What’s To Be Done?
By N. G. Tchernychewsky.
Translated by Benj. R. Tucker.
Continued from No. 62.
“You knew what he intended to do and did not stop him?”
“I asked you to be calm, as the result of my visit was to be consoling. No, I did not stop him, for his mind was thoroughly made up, as you shall see for yourself. As I began to say, he it was who asked me to spend this evening with you, and, knowing that you would be in sorrow, he entrusted me with a commission for you. He chose me as his agent because he knew me to be a man who carries out with perfect exactness the instructions that are given him, and cannot be turned aside by any sentiment or any prayer. He foresaw that you would beg me to violate his will, and he hoped that I would carry it out without being moved by your prayers. So I shall, and I beg you to ask no concession of me. This commission is as follows. In going away to ‘quit the scene’” . . . . .
“My God, what has he done! Why did you not restrain him?”
“Examine this expression, ‘quit the scene,’ and do not blame me prematurely. He used this expression in the note that you received, did he not? Well, we will adopt the same expression, for it is very happily chosen and expresses the idea exactly.”
Vera Pavlovna became more and more perplexed; she said to herself: “What does it mean? What must I think?”
Rakhmetoff, with all the apparent absurdity of his circumstantial method of explanation, managed the affair in a masterly way. He was a great psychologist, and knew how to proceed gradually.
“So, in going away, with a view to quitting the scene, to use his accurate expression, he left with me a note for you” . . . . .
Vera Pavlovna rose abruptly.
“Where is it? Give it to me! And you could stay here all day without delivering it to me?”
“I could because it was necessary. You will soon understand my reasons. They are well-founded. But first I must explain to you the expression that I employed just now: ‘the result will be consoling.’ By the consoling nature of the result I did not mean the receipt of this note, and that for two reasons, the first of which is this: in the fact of the receipt of this note there would not have been sufficient relief, you see, to deserve the name of consolation; to give consolation something more is necessary. So the consolation must be found in the contents of the note.”
Vera Pavlovna rose again.
“Calm yourself; I do not say that you are mistaken. Having prepossessed you concerning the contents of the note, let me tell you the second reason why I could not mean by the ‘consoling nature of the result’ the fact of the receipt of the note, but its contents rather. These contents, on the character of which we have settled, are so important that I cannot give them to you, but can only show them to you.”
“What! You will not give them to me?”
“No. That is precisely why he chose me, for anybody else in my place would have given them to you. The note cannot remain in your hands because, considering the extreme importance of its contents, on the character of which we have settled, it must not remain in the hands of any one. Now, if I should give it to you, you would wish to keep it. So, not to be obliged to take it away from you again by force, I shall not give it to you, but shall only show it to you. But I shall not show it to you until you have sat down, placed your hands upon your knees, and given me your word not to raise them.”
If any stranger had been there, however susceptible his heart, he could not have helped laughing at the solemnity of this procedure and especially at the quasi-religious ceremonies of this climax. It is comical, I confess, but it would be very good for our nerves if, in communicating news calculated to produce a strong impression, we knew how to observe toward each other even a tenth part of Rakhmetoff’s processes.
But Vera Pavlovna, not being a stranger, could feel only the oppressive side of this delay; she even assumed an expression no less laughable when, being seated and having precipitately and submissively placed her hands upon her knees, she cried, in the pleasantest voice,— that is, a voice of painful impatience: “I swear it!”
Rakhmetoff placed on the table a sheet of letter-paper, on which were written ten or twelve lines.
Scarcely had Vera Pavlovna cast a glance at it when, forgetting her oath, she rose impetuously to seize the note, which was already far off in Rakhmetoff’s lifted hand.
“I foresaw that, and for that reason, as you would have noticed had you been in a condition to notice anything, my hand did not leave the note. Therefore I will continue to hold this sheet by the corner as long as it remains on the table. This will make all your attempts useless.”
Vera Pavlovna sat down again and replaced her hands. Rakhmetoff again placed the note under her eyes. She read it over twenty times with emotion. Rakhmetoff stood with much patience beside her chair, holding the corner of the sheet with his hand. A quarter of an hour passed thus. Finally Vera Pavlovna raised her hand slowly, evidently without bad intentions, and hid her eyes.
“How good he is! how good he is!” said she.
“I am not quite of your opinion, and you shall know why. This will be no part of his commission, but only the expression of my opinion, which I gave to him too at our last interview. My commission consisted only in this,— to show you this note and then burn it. Have you looked at it enough?”
She folded her hands anew, he replaced the note, and with the same patience stood in the position already described a good quarter of an hour longer. Again she hid her face in her hands and repeated: “Oh! how good he is, how good he is!”
“You have studied this note as closely as you could. If you were in a calmer frame of mind, not only would you know it by heart, but the very form of each letter would be stamped for ever in your memory, so long and attentively have you looked at it. But in your present state of agitation the laws of memory do not exist, and memory may prove false to you. In view of this possibility I have made a copy of the note; this copy you can always see at my house whenever you like. Sometime I may even find it possible to give it to you. Now I think it is time to burn the original, and then my commission will be completed.”
“Show it to me once more.”
He again placed the note on the table. This time Vera Pavlovna repeatedly raised her eyes from the paper: it was plain that she had learned the note by heart and was verifying her remembrance of it. A few minutes afterwards she gave a deep sigh, and stopped lifting her eyes from the note.
“Now, that is enough, it seems to me. It is time. It is midnight already, and I have yet to give you my thoughts about this matter, for I deem it useful that you should know my opinion. Do you consent?”
On the instant the note was ablaze in the flame of the candle.
“Ah!” cried Vera Pavlovna, “that is not what I said. Why” . . . . .
“Yes, you only said that you consented to listen to me. But sooner or later I should have had to burn it.”
Saying these words, Rakhmetoff sat down.
“Besides, the copy of the note remains. Now, Vera Pavlovna, I am going to give you my opinion of the affair. I will begin with you. You are going away. Why?”
“It would be very painful for me to stay here. The sight of places which would recall the past would make me very unhappy.”
“Yes, that is a very disagreeable feeling. But do you believe that life would be much less painful to you anywhere else? Very little less, in any case. And yet what do you do? To secure yourself a slight relief, you hazard the destiny of fifty individuals dependent upon you. Is it well to do that?”
What has become of the tiresome solemnity of Rakhmetoff’s tone? He speaks in a spirited, natural, simple, brief, and animated way.
“That is true, but I have asked Madame Mertzaloff” . . . .
“You do not know whether she will be in a position to replace you in the shop; her capacity is not yet proven. Now, this is a matter which calls for a person of more than ordinary capacity. The chances are ten against one that no one would be found to replace you and that your departure would ruin the shop. Is that well? You expose fifty persons to almost certain, almost inevitable ruin. And for what reason? To secure a little comfort for yourself. Is that well? What an eager tenderness for one’s own trivial relief, and what an insensibility to tht fate of others! How does this view of your course please you?”
“Why did you not restrain me?”
“You would not have listened to me. And, besides, I knew that you would come back soon; consequently the matter was not important. You see that you are in the wrong.”
“Completely,” said Vera Pavlovna, partly in jest and partly in earnest,— almost wholly in earnest, in fact.
“No, that is but one side of your crime. ‘Completely’ involves much more. But for your repentance you shall receive a reward: I am going to aid you to repair another crime, which it is not yet too late to correct. Are you calm now, Vera Pavlovna?”
“Yes, almost calm.”
“Good! Do you need Macha for anything?”
“And yet you are already calm; you ought, then, to have remembered that it was time to tell her to go to bed,— it is already past midnight,— especially as she has to rise early. Who should have thought of this, you or I? I will tell her that she may sleep. And at the same time for this fresh repentance — for you do repent — here is a new reward; I will see what there is for supper. You have not eaten today, and you must have an appetite.”
“It is true, and a keen one; I felt it as soon as you reminded me of it,” said Vera Pavlovna, laughing this time.
Rakhmetoff brought the remains of the dinner. Macha had shown him the cheese and a pot of mushrooms, which made them a good supper enough; he brought two knives and forks, and, in short, did everything himself.
“See, Rakhmetoff, how eagerly I eat; that means that I was hungry; and yet I did not feel it; it was not Macha alone that I forgot; I am not, you see, so malicious a criminal.”
“Nor am I so very attentive to others; I reminded you of your appetite because I too wanted to eat, for I did not dine very well, though I ate more than another would have needed for a dinner and a half; but, as you well know, I eat as much as any two peasants.”
“Ah, Rakhmetoff, you are my good angel, and not for my appetite alone. But why did you stay here all day without showing me the note? Why did you keep me so long in torture?”
“The reason is a very serious one. It was necessary that others should witness your sorrow, so that the news of your extreme grief might spread and thus confirm the authenticity of the event which caused it. You would not have wanted to feign sorrow, and, in fact, it is impossible to completely replace nature by anything whatever; nature in all cases acts in a much more convincing way. Now there are three sources from which the event may be authenticated,— Macha, Madame Mertzaloff, and Rachel. Madame Mertzaloff is an especially important source, as she knows all your acquaintances. I was very glad that you conceived the idea of sending for her.”
“But how shrewd you are, Rakhmetoff!”
“Yes, it was not a bad idea to wait until night, but the credit of it belongs to Dmitry Sergueitch himself.”
“How good he is!” and Vera Pavlovna heaved a profound sigh, not of sorrow, but of gratitude.
“Well, Vera Pavlovna, we will analyze him further. Indeed, of late, his thoughts have been very wise and his conduct perfect. Yet we shall convict him of some pretty serious sins.”
“Rakhmetoff, do not speak of him in that way, or I shall get angry.”
“You rebel! That calls for another punishment. The list of your crimes is only just begun.”
“Execute, execute, Rakhmetoff.”
“For this submission a reward. Submission is always rewarded. If you have any wine, it would not be a bad idea for you to drink some. Where is it? In the sideboard or in the closet?”
“In the sideboard.”
In the sideboard he found a bottle of sherry.
Rakhmetoff obliged Vera Pavlovna to drink two small glasses of it, and lit a cigar himself.
“It is a pity that I cannot drink three or four small glasses with you, I desire it so much.”
“Is it possible, Rakhmetoff?”
“It is tempting, Vera Pavlovna, it is very tempting,” said he, laughing; “man is weak.”
“You, too, weak! Why, Rakhmetoff, you astonish me! You are not at all what I have been in the habit of thinking you. Why are you always so sober? Tonight you are a gay and charming man.”
“Vera Pavlovna, I am now fulfilling a gay duty; why should I not be gay? But this is an exceptional case, a rarity. Generally the things that I see are not gay at all; how could I help being sober? But, Vera Pavlovna, since you have chanced on this occasion to see me as I should very much like to be always, and since we have come to talk so freely to each other, know this,— but let it be a secret,— that it is not to my liking to be sober. It is easier for me to do my duty when it is not noticed that I too should like to enjoy life. In that case no one tries to entertain me, and I am not forced to waste my time in refusing invitations. But that it may be easier for you to think of me only as a sober man, I continue my inquest concerning your crimes.”
“But what more do you want, then? You have already convicted me of two,— insensibility toward Macha and insensibility regarding the shop. I am repentant.”
“The insensibility toward Macha is only an offence, not a crime: Macha would not die from rubbing her heavy eyes an hour longer; on the contrary, she would have done it with a pleasant feeling, knowing that she was doing her duty. But as regards the shop I want to devour you.”
“Have you not devoured me enough already?”
“Not entirely yet, and I want to devour you entirely. How could you abandon this shop to its ruin?”
“But I have repented, and, besides, I did not abandon it: Madame Mertzaloff had consented to take my place.”
“We have already spoken of that; your intention of furnishing her as a substitute is not a sufficient excuse. But by this excuse you have succeeded only in convicting yourself of a new crime.”
Rakhmetoff gradually resumed his serious, though not solemn, tone.
“You say that she is going to take your place. Is that decided upon?”
“Yes,” said Vera Pavlovna, seriously, foreseeing that something bad was to follow.
“Look at it. The affair is decided, but by whom? By you and by her, without taking any further counsel. Whether these fifty persons would consent to such a change, whether they wished it, and whether they might not have found some better way,— what is that to you? That is despotism, Vera Pavlovna. So you are already guilty of two great crimes,— lack of pity and despotism. But the third is a heinous crime. The institution which more or less closely corresponded to healthy ideas of social organization, which to a greater or less extent demonstrated their practicability (a precious thing, proofs of this kind being very rare),— this institution, I say, you submitted to the risk of destruction and of transformation from a proof of the practicability into evidence of the impracticability and absurdity of your convictions, into a means of refuting your ideas, so beneficial to humanity: you furnished an argument against your holy principles to the champions of darkness and of evil. Now, I say no more of the fact that you destroyed the prosperity of fifty individuals,— that is a matter of fifty individuals,— but you harmed humanity, you betrayed progress. That, Vera Pavlovna, is what is called, in ecclesiastical language, the sin against the Holy Ghost, the only unpardonable sin. Isn’t that true, madam criminal? Fortunately everything has happened as it has, and you have sinned only in intention. Ah! you blush in earnest, Vera Pavlovna. It is well; now I will console you. If you had not suffered so much, you would not have committed such crimes even in your imagination. Therefore the real criminal is he who has occasioned you so much torment. And you repeat continually: ‘How good he is! how good he is!’”
“What! Do you think that, if I have suffered, it is through his fault?”
“Whose fault is it, then? He has managed this affair well, I admit, but why all this hubbub? Nothing of the kind should have happened.”
“Yes, I should not have had this feeling. But I did not invite it; on the contrary, I tried to suppress it.”
“‘I should not have had’ — that is good! You do not see wherein you are guilty, and you reproach yourself when there is no occasion to. This feeling necessarily had to arise in one way or another, given your character and that of Dmitry Sergueitch, and it would have developed itself under any circumstances. The essential point in the matter is not that you are in love with another, which is only a result; it is the dissatisfaction with your former relations. What form was this dissatisfaction obliged to take? If both, or even one of you, had been, deficient in intellectual development and refinement, or if you had been bad people, your dissatisfaction would have taken the ordinary form,— hostility between husband and wife; you would have devoured each other, if you had both been bad; or one of you would have tormented the other, and the other would have been pitilessly tormented. It would have been in any case one of those domestic hells that we find in most families. That evidently would not have prevented the appearance of love for another, but in addition there would have been hell, mutual torment, I know not what. With you dissatisfaction could not take this form, because both of you are honest; so it took only its lightest, mildest, most inoffensive form,— love of another. Of this love there is no occasion to speak: it is not, I repeat, the essential point. The essential point is the dissatisfaction with your former situation, and the cause of your dissatisfaction is the difference in your characters. Both of you are good, but when your character, Vera Pavlovna, matured, when it lost its childish ambiguity and acquired definite traits, it became evident that you and Dmitry Sergueitch were not well suited to each other. What is there in that that is against either of you? I, for instance, am not a bad man. Could you live a long time with me? You would die of ennui. In how many days, do you think?”
“In a very few days,” said Vera Pavlovna, laughing.
“He is not as sober as I am, but nevertheless there is altogether too much difference between you. Who should have noticed it first? Who is the older? Whose character was formed the earlier? Who has had the greater experience in life? He should have foreseen all and prepared you, in order that, you might not be frightened and eaten up with sorrow. He did not realize this until the feeling that he should have anticipated was not only developed, but had produced its results. Why did he foresee nothing, notice nothing? Was it stupidity? He does not lack wit. No, it was inattention, negligence, rather; he neglected his relations with you, Vera Pavlovna. That was the real trouble. And still you repeat: ‘He is good; he loved me.’”
To be continued.
“A free man is one who enjoys the use of his reason and his faculties; who is neither blinded by passion, nor hindered or driven by oppression, nor deceived by erroneous opinions.” — Proudhon.
In the “Freiheit” of May 9 Herr Johann Most pays his respects to those Anarchists who, he says, have for forty years been still groping in the A B C of Proudhonic Anarchism, and who can only claim Liberty as their remaining advocate and exponent. Under the head of “Individualist Visionaries” he devotes three columns in response to an article which lately bore upon him in this paper.
Herr Most says that the points quoted from his article by me were garbled, and so arranged as to place him in a false light. The main point quoted, beside which the others were simply incidental, appears in the following paragraph:
Hinsichtlich des Wortes “Kontrakt” muss man jedoch einem Missverstandnisse vorbeugen. Proudhon, der an den freien Willen glaubte, verstand unter diesem Worte einen willkurlichen Kontrakt, einen Kontrakt, den man nach Belieben in Zweck und Form abandern kann. Ein solcher Gedanke liegt uns fern!
The literal English of the above is:
Respecting the word “Contract” one misunderstanding must, however, be avoided. Proudhon, who believed in freedom of the will, understood by this word a voluntary contract,— a contract which at one’s option can be altered in purpose and form. Such a thought is far from us.
A contract must either be voluntary or involuntary. If a voluntary contract is far from Herr Most’s thought, what kind of a contract does he contemplate? He says that every man is bound to enter into some form of communitarian contract in spile of himself, for the very law of his nature Compels him to. His vaunted will is a mere plaything in this matter. But if the will is so insignificant and contemptible a factor in this matter, why does he propose to stand guard over it, lest it should presume to alter a contract in purpose and form?
Herr Most evidently regards the will of the lion as trifling when it is being baited into his frail house by the prospect of a shank of beef. But when the cheated beast finds nothing but dry bones, and proposes to get out by the door he has kindly closed, the will assumes a formidable significance, though to recognize it is farthest from his thought. He is of course driven back upon the issue of whether he or the lion can summon the most brute force.
To my pointed question, as to whether the Communistic Anarchists propose to let me severely alone, provided I decline to take any part in their schemes, but choose to paddle my own canoe, at my own cost, Herr Most cries vehemently, Ja! and avers that never again can it be said that he dodges or equivocates in this matter.
But, alas! under what circumstances am I to be let alone, after Herr Most’s communistic cohorts have got through with me? I am to be let alone as the mountaineer is let alone, who, after having his home levelled down, his pockets and provender robbed, and himself stripped naked, is left alone to try conclusions with the rugged blasts and eternal snows. I am to be let alone as the highwayman lets his victim alone, after nothing is left but nakedness and defencelessness.
Lest I do Herr Most injustice, let me quote consecutively from his pamphlet, “Die Eigenthums-Bestie” (The Property Beast), as to what condition I shall find myself in when he gets ready to let me severely alone. After arranging his revolutionary forces and arming them so savagely “that they shall wield a power like unto a new conqueror of the world,” Herr Most then describes the business which he expects them to execute as follows:
The existing system will be quickest and most radically overthrown by the annihilation of its exponents. Therefore, massacres of the enemies of the people must be set in motion. All free communes must to this end form an offensive and defensive alliance. Each revolutionary society must besiege the districts surrounding it; and the war must not cease till the enemy (the property beast) be driven to the wall and exterminated.
In order to prosecute the work on hand promptly and effectually on the economic side, all land holdings and movable capital will be confiscated, and declared property of the Commune. Things will be most readily readjusted through the following steps.
Every floating debt is to be wiped out. Tilings pawned or mortgaged are to be returned. No rents will be collected. Local committees in different districts will furnish those without dwellings with suitable tenements, of which there will be plenty after the sweeping out of the old occupants.
So long as one is without employment, he will be furnished with such needful tilings as are guaranteed by the Commune. Commissaries will attend to this. They will facilitate their duties by sending out foraging scouts into the surrounding country to clean out the property of the enemy.
The preparation of food and other necessities can be managed by the communal association of workingmen.
Organization of the workingmen, and the giving over of factories, tools, raw material, etc., for communal operation of the same, will lay the foundations of the new social order.
The Commune will (at least for present purposes) be called upon to provide for consumption. It will therefore make contracts with the different groups for supplies, and advance them money, which may be devoted to the erection of the contemplated communal warehouses, through which the old money system is to be banished.
Schools, Kindergartens, and other educational institutions are to be built. In all churches (clergymen of course are banished) only the gospel of truth and knowledge is to be proclaimed. The press will everywhere be set in motion, in order to scatter books, papers, and pamphlets among the benighted.
All law-books, all criminal and police enactments, all registers of deeds, mortgages, and certificates of value of every kind will be consigned to the flames.
Such is to be the fate of “the property beast,” after Herr Most gets his dogs of war marshalled and lets them loose upon society. Now, perchance I, as an “Individualist Visionary,” may happen to be personally occupying, cultivating, and using forty acres of land, upon which I have built a home, a barn, and bought tools, domestic animals, and all the accompaniments of an individual domain. Certainly, no human possession can be more sacred and inviolable than this; for the title resides in that most eminent of all rights, personal occupation and cultivation.
But, being spotted as a “property beast,” I am some morning torn from my bed and cleaned out, to make room for one of Herr Most’s elect. My barn, my cattle, my money, my clothes, and all I have, are declared the property of the Commune. Yea, even I myself have been marked for annihilation. I stand naked, alone, and defenceless. In this predicament Herr Most is willing to let me alone if I do not wish to go down and join the Commune. Oh, ye gods! is not this kindness itself? As I once heard a free thinker say to an orthodox evangelist: — “I’ll be damned if I do; I’ll be damned if I don’t; but I’m bound to be damned anyway, if I insist upon liberty.” Cruel irony of fate, this!
When I reflect on the enormity of fanaticism involved in Most’s schemes, I feel almost ashamed to treat them above contempt. Yet I believe these people are sincere, and deserve charity. They are impetuous creatures, whom the abominable oppressions of the existing State have fostered. They gall and chafe under persecution and insolent tyranny seated in power. They cannot wait for evolution; they demand revolution, and will have these beasts of tyranny and robbery quickly out of the way. So they invent a patent machine, and in their haste to see it set in motion forget the sacredness of individual right, and color their dreams of near success with blood and cruelty. None the less, however, does it behoove these beasts of tyranny who now arrogantly rule society to remember that they alone are responsible for Most and his methods.
I have thus attempted to reply to Herr Most, fairly and temperately. I repeat that these Communists are not Anarchists, but, when crowded back upon their basic resources, are at war with Liberty, whose very incarnation true Anarchy is. It is doubtless idle to reason with them. They will run their course, but will ultimately get back to the basic principles of true social order: — Individual Sovereignty, equipoised by the Cost Principle,— Liberty, incarnate in Anarchy.
The discussions on the new charter for the city of Boston developed opinions which, taken as a sign of this time, it will be well to note. For instance, one member of the House related his experience on some board of education or charity, where the one whose business it was to act in certain directions, did so always under dictation of the majority, and so was always able to shirk the responsibility of any business that miscarried or went wrong. Such a state of affairs the member thought disastrous, demoralizing, and contrary to the genius of free institutions. In a word, he did not see but a Republic so conducted was the foe rather than the friend of the people. For, if any principle could be established beyond peradventure, it was that individual freedom and responsibility went hand in hand. So he favored the new charter giving the mayor large increase of power, in order that in all cases when he would be virtually held responsible he should be the sole directing agent. He should be a free man clothed with authority. The idea seemed to produce a favorable impression. Others were of the opinion that a man, to assume responsibility for his deeds, must not be subject to whatever outward authority. He must find his urgent command in reason and justice as he was able to comprehend them. He must be able to say: “I think so, I act so; mine be the responsibility.” Thus the saying of Louis XIV., “I am the State,” in ways he did not dream of, touched liberty at a nearer point than does our modern belief that “The State is the majority, no one of whom can be caught or is responsible.” Let civilization unfold the truth that every man is the “State,” just as Swedenborg proclaimed every soul to be a church. As church, he is his own pope, priest, or bishop; as State, he is sovereign, chief magistrate, lawgiver. This is the quality of his freedom,— that it imposes upon him full responsibility.
Of course the legislators on Beacon hill have no realizing sense of the peril they invoke on their own heads by the endorsement of such doctrines. Their function to “make laws” for other people is at once discredited by the fact that their whole business is an invasion of the liberty and responsibility of sovereign citizens. It is just as important that John Smith or James Henry should be protected against majority dictation as it can possibly be for Boston’s mayor,— that is, if it is important that society should be the expression of freemen responsible for their own acts.
This doctrine, so old, is yet so new or unfamiliar to the majority of even the so-called scholars, philosophers, ministers, statesmen, of the Republic, that they listen to its announcement with wonder, and, shaking their heads, do not understand how otherwise rational minds can entertain it. They can understand freedom applied to religion, but what America could do without the all-powerful despotic State they cannot conceive. In other words, they have no faith in Liberty. They believe only in masquerading, in shamming. They are as thoroughly wedded to the idea of despotic government as a divine system as the czar of all the Russias. Liberty in America has an impetus and headway which it cannot boast in Russia, but the foes it encounters are of the same pattern here as there. As a man the czar is no better and no worse than the majority of Americans. But he has the same “divine” distrust of Liberty that they have, and they have the same misgivings that he has.
Now and forever the first requisite for the success of any cause is faith in it. Not lip-service, words, protestations; but works! “Let your faith be seen in your works, to the glory of God,” said the apostle. “To the glory of Liberty,” say we in this particular case. For so only is illustrated what Liberty really is.
Now it seems a superfluous thing to say that a people professing to be the first in the world ought to give freedom a full and fair trial. Yet it is a saying to be repeated not only seven times a week, but seven times a day; yea, seventy times seven. Americans have hardly begun to consider the question from the standpoint of absolute fact: What does freedom demand? Our boasted Revolution has not been a Revolution. “When,” said Proudhon, “our ideas on any subject, material, intellectual, or social, undergo a thorough change in consequence of new observations, I call that movement of the mind revolution. If the ideas are simply extended or modified, there is only progress. Thus the system of Ptolemy was a step in astronomical progress, that of Copernicus was a revolution. So in 1789 there was struggle and progress; revolution there was none.” To prove this statement he examines the reforms attempted, and asks: “What is monarchy? The sovereignty of one man. What is democracy? The sovereignty of the nation, or, rather, of the national majority. But it is, in both cases, the sovereignty of man instead of the sovereignty of the law, the sovereignty of the will instead of the sovereignty of the reason; in one word, the passions instead of justice.”
But have we gained nothing either in France or America? Some one is sure to ask this question. Let Proudhon’s answer suffice: — “Undoubtedly, when a nation passes from the monarchical to the democratic state, there is progress, because in multiplying the sovereigns we increase the opportunities of the reason to substitute itself for the will; but in reality there is no revolution in the government, since the principle remains the same. We have the proof today that with the most perfect democracy we cannot be free. . . . . . . I ask what has this pretended revolution revolutionized?”
What we are to understand by this is that Liberty requires, not progress, improvement in despotic methods, but the substitution therefor of her own method,— the method of Liberty for the method of force, compulsion.
That would be our Revolution accomplished.
But who has faith in the method of Liberty?
Few, very few; and yet the idea prevails, the confession in some form or other is heard in all civilized countries. Mr. Chamberlain, the cable reports, “attributes the pacific state of Ireland today, not to coercion, but to the land laws and the removal of deep-seated agrarian grievances.” Indeed, the world, by manifold illustrations from day to day, owns up that force is abortive. Justice satisfies. Freedom, to the extent it prevails, quiets, reassures, establishes order. The art of governing others is not to govern, but to persuade them, stimulate them to govern themselves.
It is in this direction that education is now demanded.
In every way possible put Liberty on trial, and hold her accountable for order, peace, prosperity. Place in every case the responsibility of choice and decision back where it belongs, upon the free individual.
We have need daily to dismiss our fears, and believe that people as a rule will act wisely and well, if you give them a chance. If they can be allowed to learn by actual experience, they will find the demands of Liberty are a constant restraint upon all disturbance of the social harmony.
Lords and Crofters.
Lord MacDonald, or “Lord of the Isles, as he is called because of his extensive possessions among the islands of the northern coast of Scotland, has been making a tour of the world, and is on his way home through the United States. He stopped in Chicago, and gave a reporter some information on the crofter question. He said:
The trouble is, you know, that there are too many crofters and not enough land. There are over one hundred thousand crofters, and Scotland is not a very large country, so they can’t all have crafts or farms. Emigration would be a good thing — too many of them. They should dig out. These crofters are an improvident class. They spend everything they can get and save nothing. They are lazy, too. They might fish and make money, but they prefer to live on four pounds a year on these crofts rather than make more than a living by fishing.
A very simple matter, to the mind of the Lord of the Isles, for these indiscreetly numerous drudges to “dig out” and leave his game preserves in their present beautiful state of uncultivation. The poor Scots cannot all have farms, but it is not the lack of arable land in Scotland that prevents them. It is not that there are too many crofters,— there are too many Lords of the Isles, Lords of the hills, valleys, and glens. These Lords are a rapacious, spendthrift class. They spend everything they can get and earn nothing. They are lazy. They are robbers, too. They confiscate what the crofters produce and go idling about the world, spending in one day what would feed a crofter the year round. They might fish and be useful, but they prefer to live on several thousand pounds a year, taken from the crofters, than to earn an honest living by fishing. Let the Lord of the Isles and all other idlers take another view of life,— say, from the inside of a crofter’s cabin,— and eat only what they earn, what they can “dig out” of arable land now used for preserving game, and this crofter question will speedily get itself settled.
A Novel Charge.
The editor of Liberty says that the liberal papers, among which the “Index” is mentioned, “and all the Free Religionists, agnostics, and materialists, and other infidels, so-called,” although opposed to the ecclesiastical machine, “when asked to confront exactly the same situation in the political sphere, are stiff-necked Presbyterians, hard-shell Baptists, and straight-laced political orthodox of a very fanatical type. When I meet them, they politically invite me to rise for prayers, seek Jesus, and flee from the wrath to come.” Whenever we have had a chance to refer to the anarchistic views of the editor of Liberty in his presence, instead of inviting him “to rise for prayers,” etc., we have pointed out the absurdity of his notions, and asked him to meet certain objections, and to show any error in the reasoning which demonstrates that anarchism is a wild dream impossible of realization. On such occasions, his attitude has been as diffident as his spirit in the paragraph quoted from above is confident and courageous.
B. F. Underwood writes the above in the “Index” of June 11. The article from which he quotes was written, not by the editor of Liberty, but by one of his regular editorial contributors, and it appeared over the signature regularly used by that contributor in these columns. In attributing this article to me and making me a subject of criticism on account of it, Mr. Underwood commits the same offence against me that I should commit against his editorial associate, W. J. Potter, were I to attribute to Mr. Potter the article printed above and abuse him on account of it. If I should do such a thing knowingly, both Mr. Underwood and Mr. Potter would pronounce me a trickster. It seems to me altogether likely that Mr. Underwood, in committing this offence, knew what he was doing. There is no harm done in this case, because it happens that the words quoted by Mr. Underwood command my approval, and I am willing to be held responsible for them. But this does not excuse Mr. Underwood. I call attention to his course simply to show the devices of which this Free Religionist is capable,— devices quite in keeping with the political methods which he champions against Anarchism.
Concerning his charge that he has found me diffident in the defence of my opinions, I am struck chiefly by the novelty of it. So accustomed am I to hearing my opponents complain that in discussion with them I unduly lift my voice, show unwarrantable warmth, and assert my views with an emphasis bordering on the tone of authority that I had come to regard myself as a sort of fire-eater, whom it was dangerous to approach. Mr. Underwood’s words relieve me. Still, I remember only one or two occasions on which Mr. Underwood ever approached me on the subject of Anarchism, and on these I do not remember in the least what he said. Whatever it was, it was said in a hall, after an adjourned public meeting, amid little knots of men all talking at once and as vociferously as possible. I have no fancy for discussion under such circumstances. Perhaps I showed this in my attitude, which Mr. Underwood may have mistaken for diffidence. Or perhaps I was overawed by the majesty of his presence and the display of that vast erudition of which he by implication so frequently boasts in lamenting the ignorance of such men as Michael Bakounine, Elisee Reclus, and Prince Kropotkine. Or perhaps I was influenced by a feeling that it is a waste of time to discuss with Mr. Underwood individually. I have but little confidence in his ability to see the truth on any new subject, and still less in his willingness. There is no ground for hope that he will ever be an Anarchist. But it is sometimes worth while to discuss publicly with a man on whom private discussion would be wasted, as it may furnish an opportunity for influencing other minds. Perhaps he would do well to try me again, but in public print. He will find plenty of material in Liberty that invites his criticism. He shall then see how diffident I am.
“Strange thing!” writes Henri Rochefort; “of the immense throng of disciples, followers, and admirers whom Victor Hugo has drawn into the whirlpool that, raged around him, few really knew him.” This fact is often paralleled; strikingly in our own Emerson’s case. He numbers his worshippers by the million, but only here and there you find a man or woman who knows what seed he planted and what harvest it is developing. Thousands who shrink in horror from Anarchism read his essay on “Politics” with the utmost placidity and fancy they admire it, not knowing that in this and other essays is to be found one of the chief forces that gave Anarchism a foothold in America.
Confessions of a Convert.
To the Editors of Liberty:
Do you care to listen to the confessions of a convert? From my earliest boyhood the very name of freedom has thrilled my nerves like a drum-tap. My father was an abolitionist, and some of my first memories are of the stirring controversy of that time for freedom. I have always been a reformer, and lived as close to my ideals as circumstances would permit. Some two years ago my first copy of Liberty (sent by the editor, I presume) fell into my hands. It turned me upside down in no time. I resisted, of course. I had a superstitious reverence for the law; an undefined idea that the American Republic was the spirit of Liberty materialized; and a nebulous conviction that, if we only had strong enough legislation, and enough of it, we should soon realize the millennium. Therefore I turned my back on Anarchy. I would have none of it. But it had made its mark, and the “damned spot would not out.” I attempted to compromise. I would construct an ideal republic with ideal laws. I tried it. It was a big job, a very big job, and the result did not seem quite satisfactory. I adopted Karl Heinzen’s democracy and proportional representation. That was very pleasing, but unfortunately opened my eyes so wide, and so filled my lungs with free air, that I found myself more inclined toward Anarchy than ever before. I read Edgeworth’s letters, and had a tilt at him in the “Radical Review.” This led to a correspondence, and to his sending me — indefatigable propagandist that he is — an avalanche of Socialistic and Anarchistic papers. From an Anarchistic neighbor, too, one Evald Hammar, a Swede, I borrowed Liberty and various pamphlets. My breastworks yielded one by one. The still small voice of reason, and the panting of my inherited instincts for perfect liberty, had their effect. I was about convinced when I noticed that the “Radical Review” had struck her colors and joined the powers of freedom. I noticed also in Liberty a letter from my uncle Caleb Pink,— radical old man; Liberty has few more consistent followers than he. Still I hesitated. I wanted to feel sure. But I will hesitate no longer. I have been an advocate and defender of abolition, free thought, free speech, free religion, free marriage, free divorce, free love, and free trade. I drop all these now only to instantly recover them, and infinitely much more, in my arm-full embrace of Freedom.
I don the red cap of Liberty.
I become an Anarchist.
J. Wm. Lloyd.
Monopoly is not the child of competition, but is the child of greed, the greed of individuals or combinations of individuals who desire to crush out competition and thus control the production and distribution of the result of the labor of those who can not get into the ranks of the privileged, greedy few. Competition cannot be the mother of monopoly, because, but for the charters and privileges given by monopolistic governments to monopolistic corporations, monopoly could not exist one year in this or any other country. Take away the charters and exclusive privileges from the railroads, and there will soon be hundreds of competing roads all over America, carrying our freight at cost; take away the title deeds given by thieving kings and plundering governments to the great land holders of the world, and there will not be a landlord in the world in five years; take away the privilege of making money granted by the government to the National bankers, and let competition have free swing in the business of money making, and interest on money will go down to zero; in short, let competition have free play, and it will be the death of all monopoly.
Then and Now.
Boston, June 13, 2085.
My Dear Louise:
Insurance was the subject of a recent conversation between Mr. De Demain and myself, and he told me so many interesting things about it as carried on today that I will tell you briefly what he said.
“Your police system two hundred years ago,” said he, “was but a system of insurance, as were your fire departments, your standing armies, and your navies. Police protection is now furnished by private companies. You pay a certain per cent, on the valuation of your property, real and personal, and the company agrees to pay you for any loss to that property caused by the depredations of others. The company employs policemen, watchmen, and detectives, and there is no collusion between these and would-be criminals for reasons which you can appreciate. Few crimes are committed that are not detected sooner or later, the criminals being brought to justice.
“Suppose that you have in your house two thousand dollars’ worth of valuables. You insure these in some police protection company of good standing. If these valuables are stolen, the company pays you two thousand dollars, and it is for their interest to catch the thief.”
“I should think such a system as this would encourage fraud. What if I should hide or give away my two thousand dollars’ worth of valuables?”
“You may be sure that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred you would be found out, and the penalty which a jury would be likely to inflict in such a case would be heavy, much heavier than for a theft.”
“The officers of these companies also give alarms of fire. They report every day to the office. Anything of a suspicious nature that is observed is carefully investigated by men specially detailed for that purpose. Thus crimes are not only punished, but in a great many cases prevented. A criminal today must be a very bold and a very shrewd man.”
“Under such a system of detective espionage I should think innocent persons would often be arrested and charged with having committed some crime or with criminal intentions.”
“Mistakes are sometimes made, but it is rarely. The utmost caution is used, and none but honest, competent men are employed. Policemen are not appointed today because a friend has a political ‘pull,’ and there is no State and no party to protect them if they do wrong or prove incompetent. I believe this was a most serious fault with your police systems two hundred years ago. It was the State, always the State, that was the root of all evil. You saw the branches and lopped them off occasionally, but beneath the ground, out of ordinary sight, were the roots that gave sustenance to the tree. The Anarchist dug down and found these roots, and pointed them out to the suffering people, but for years they shut their eyes and turned away. We have torn out the noisome plant, root and branch, and burnt it as an offering to-Liberty. The ground is no longer cumbered with such a growth to suck its healthy substance ana turn it into poison with which to contaminate the life-giving air.
“War having ceased with the State, no insurance against foreign invasion or internal disruption is needed, but I see no reason why private enterprise might not carry on a war with much less loss than a State would sustain. Friends as well as foes were always ready to rob a State in times of war as well as times of peace, and, as the opportunities for robbery were better in a time of war, the plunder was always greater.
“Just two hundred years ago, I am told by history, Boston was very much disturbed because the State interfered in its police system and took away the appointing power. On one hand, the cry was that the police commission was corrupt, and, on the other, that Boston knew better what she wanted than the State. Anarchy would have solved the problem, you see, to the entire satisfaction of nearly every individual. What matter was it whether those intangible, soulless things, the State and the city, were satisfied? What was satisfaction to them? It meant simply the satisfaction of a few scheming politicians and their hangers-on. That was all.”
I was very pleased to learn that the State had stepped in and tried to put an end to the terrible wickedness of Boston. I have long been shocked by the thought that Boston people could not see that their city was in a very bad way. I trust that there will be great improvement made now that the State is to control it.
The Social Metamorphosis.
Since the dawn of history, human aspiration has oscillated between two orders of destiny, which, divergent in the past, may yet blend in a superior synthesis.
This duality is subjective, of the soul; and objective, of the world.
The subjective evolution, nursed by theology in ascetic piety, has yielded, to the culture of hate, narcotic flowers of magic and poison fruit of witchcraft; to the culture of love, illusions of romance and magnetic clairvoyance. (Illusion is not always delusion.) The objective evolution by labor and science yields, to egoism, equal progress in misery and wealth, culture and depravity; to altruism, glimpses of harmony.
Indolent imaginations, revolted at the harshness ot materialism and flattered by the hope of spontaneous development, have indulged in bright presages from the analogy of insect metamorphoses. Relegating happiness with liberty to heavens beyond the grave, they compare our low estate to the caterpillar’s larval stage, death to the coffined chrysalid, and spiritual resurrection, their immortal postulate, to the known attribute of wings and radiant sheen; the aerial medium of movement corresponding to the heavens of grace.
In this transformation, by new faculties, locomotive and bisexual, life rises in grade, but this requires that the insect leave none of its body behind it in the shroud. Its new-fledged powers, moreover, ephemeral for the individual, transcend death only for the species. To the rarer medium, air, it opposes a larger surface than was needed for movement upon solids or within fluids, but these three media are alike material, and the levers that ply in them all muscular. For the “glorified body which shall put on immortality,” we must borrow a vision equally transcendent. The “seer of Poughkeepsie” records at least one observation which, somehow, has been always confounded in our thought with that of the mosquito in the act of detaching itself from its pupa case, up-on the surface of a stagnant pool: “Where imitation ceases, analogy begins.”
Between the physiological and the social transformations, neither are bodies compared, nor is there complication with the psychic problem. Immortality is not in question, but the principles of evolution from the order of constraint to that of liberty.
The larval stage is that of undeveloped faculties, in which the savage feeds upon Earth’s bounty. The storge of ulterior destinies bestirs both the insect and featherless biped to an activity, the fruition of which is reserved to a different organization. The worm and the proletary spin and weave the same textile fabric, in the parallel confinement of close rooms, within which nutrition is stinted to faculties repressed. Insect and human producer alike are but provisional organs of the species or society, in conditions of self sacrifice. If general prosperity be the ideal aim of labor, then this afflictive industry is mainly discipline. Not man, but machinery, to which hands are adjuncts, is the essential factor. Machinery, comprising skill, is the new organ of society which the pupa stage is bound to develop.
In the ultimate or complete organism wings mean liberty, as the distinction of the sexes means love,— i. e., life multiplied into itself by the interaction of sympathies, which, during confinement and industrial oppression, are hardly more developed in humanity than in the worm.
Slaves of the lamp and of the loom, your insect comrades prophesy emancipation with a photosphere of education. They say that you shall wear the fine clothes you are now weaving, and which capital is so amiably trying on for you. Their delicate lustre, in changeable silks, completes the worm’s aesthetic mission, matching the bridal dress of flowerbelles. Passions, with their organs of color, form and voice, perfume and melody, all are developed in one jet, with liberty in light.
In a kindred vein our industrial civilization has been compared to the peopling of a hollow sphere, within whose planet ring the rings of legislators, bankers, market cornerers, land-sharks, officials, and professionals fruges consumere nati, pullulate, class within class, like the coats of an onion. Developed from its central germ by labor, they compress and stifle it.
This chrysalid world is not in utter darkness. The polar summer day and boreal streamers make the shadows dance in Holmes’ hole, but the light most employed by its inhabitants is a certain cerebral phosphorescence called Faith. Multiple as idioms of thought are the constellations with which this fiat lux adorns the concave vault.
To the north stands the divine tree Ygdrasil, watered by the Fates. Bulls, rams, and goats frolic in the firmament, whose Sun often takes the form of a man, and comes to grief in consequence.
The mirage of societies upon the horizon of Faith shadows there our own ruling powers and distributers of destiny. Upon these shadows, proving right divine, it patterns new secular governments. Pharaohs and Incas fraternize with Osiris and Mithras. Empires, monarchies more or less constitutional, oligarchies, aristocracies in republican disguise, democracies, the simplicity of confusion, and the despotism of mobs, all borrow from the same shadow realm the same mystical sanction of authority, through whatever representative channels, ostensible or latent, it may filter. Arbitrary and fantastic in its evolutions, Authority has had, in the parental, a natural genesis. A moral aureole invests the Patriarch in his functions of providential distributer and legislator. From these collective attributes, physical and moral, derives the prestige of the Sun’s sons, or providential chiefs, like Manco Capue and his family. Patriarchates blend by conquest in the crown’s prerogative: then, facilis descensus averni, to the last details of bureaucracy and plutocracy.
Our chrysalid world is the puerile phase of subjectivism. Its shell sham and shame has been passing for Nature. Shadows are, indeed, natural phenomena, but their barriers are passible, not fatal; it is possible to traverse their circle, to find a nobler order than submission to idols, a freer liberty than the right to crawl.
Science takes the measure of our prison by its social statistics, and modestly suggests a beyond. Psychology finds in attraction the matrix of faculty, and exposes the shortcomings of achievement. Labor, mining its crust, finds in coal-beds the kindling at once of material and social fires.* Swelling passions of puberty upheave its walls; they crack, they burst; society, timid and panting with its effort, emerges into daylight, and, standing on its figment, preens its wings. Grown inside out, like the plant-germ; finding, like the bulb, only its own life at the centre of all superposed authorities,— society, piercing their envelopes, issues from the dim religious light of scholastics to the impolarized light of a diffused intelligence. Relations which had been inverted are reversed, those of capital with labor, for the same reason that the past ceases to control the present, and that the coffins of our dead ancestors drop from our too pious shoulders; as science replaces the classics, and discovery revelation. The underside comes uppermost; brains coalesce with hands instead of purses.
In this change of partners Authority is dethroned; it ceases to be arbitrary. Its mystic aureole, inscrutable, divine, fades out of the sky and evaporates from the soil. Instead of distributive laws, imposed by church or state, contracts are sealed by mutual interests on an equal footing. Local autonomies, true to their respective spheres, result from the accord of individual liberties. Authority, parental, patriarchal, royal, imperial, autochtonic, representative, refracted by the facets of officers innumerable,— can this gorgeous edifice of authority melt away like the ice palace on the banks of the Neva? Can it quietly flow back within the family banks, where it is gently tempered by affections parental, filial, and fraternal, at once altruist and egoist? It happens thus: As water rises to its level, so Authority tends back to its source. One in principle, it reverts to unity in representation. Baffled by the unworthiness of its accredited organs who provoke against it popular reactions, or equally, betrayed by every personal investment, it finds one that is impersonal. Of its various phantasmagoria one disk alone gleams with a metallic lustre through the murky atmosphere of civilization, object of its general worship, measure of values either material or aesthetic, condition of all facultative development, realizing the Catholic ideal,— Una fides, una domus. This deity is the sovereign, alias eagle, dollar, rouble, kreutzer, or napoleon, essentially one and the same, commander of the faithful, generalissimo of armies, car of Juggernaut for labor, chariot of State for capital, Theocrat. Facile princeps, it parcels out its world estate into subordinate papacies, bishoprics, and secular dynasties; according as a favor to republics the right of multiplying infinitely the facets of authority. By this sovereign solvent, all property becomes fluent, all faculty available, corveable, serviable. By money at first oppression becomes at once impersonal and intolerable beyond any chattelism. The darkest hour may precede the dawn. Money has a science of its own. By its experimental revelations banking comes to be for commerce, for exploitation, for all the minor sovereignties, what these have been for labor. This science consists in the management of representation. Whatever rights allow themselves to be represented are presently dispensed with. The phenomenon absorbs the substance. When a people is represented by its priests and rulers, who judge, reward, punish, save, damn, direct, and tax it, these authorities dispense with its faculties of individual conscience, self-direction, and loyalty to personal contracts. When a saviour represents us in the atonement for sins, and the Church represents the saviour, we are ready for the sale of indulgences. Crime is appraised, tariffed, and commutable with coin. When wealth confers honor, controls legislation, and garners, without sword or cannon, the harvests of reverent labor, then the eagle, serenely poised on its Olympian eyrie, has completed the demoralization of the State. A Vanderbilt carries its powers in his pocket. Armies of labor rise cheerfully every day to do his bidding. Congressmen vie for admission into the Sacred Legion of this Caesar. Now, when a man can carry Jehovah in his purse, he is flattered in the sentiment of his importance. A god that can be fractionized, disseminated, and reunited at pleasure, alternately sensible and invisible, traversing continents and oceans in the click of a telegraph battery, immortal in his corporative attributes, is sure of popularity and loyalty.
Money, representative of values, represents itself. Gold, the general underminer of other powers, their perfidious ally, is in turn undermined by stamped paper,— nay, by the flourish of a pen,— and this, representing gold, may dispense with it, in dealing directly with radical labor.
Labor, the most superstitions of all animals, and for countless generations interdicted, like a chicken, by its reverence, for the chalk lines drawn by capital before its eyes, discovers at last that it can scratch lines too. Behold the Labor note, labor buying labor, paying labor, circuits of production, manutention, and consumption effected without intermediary factors; then the intermediary moralized, mechanized, subjugated by the Labor Exchange Bank, a succursal of the Real Estate Bank. Behold the supreme power reunited with the basic, like the king with the people against the olden time barons of the sword and castle.
Whenever Labor notes are current, the honest will have credit, and the hour of labor’s emancipation will have sounded. Its tribute will have been condoned by the reduction of interests and rents to their natural minima. Labor suffices to labor when it has its own dollar, and capital’s is useless, unless Labor pleases to use it. In this mutual exchange by loyalty to personal contracts lies the master key of all prison doors, the absorbent substitution for dependencies upon imposed authority. Capital, fighting shy awhile, will finally knock under, submit to be fair. Other forms of authority, discrowned, unmitred, discredited, and unmasked by their old ally, money, have to perform “the happy despatch,” eviscerate, clar de kitchen and vamoose de ranch, before the new holy alliance of Labor with Money, cemented by the Labor Exchange Bank.
Such is the development of wings within the Social Chrysalid.
* Allusion to the transactions at Hocking Valley Mines and other coal regions.
The Funeral Solemnities of Government.
[Adapted from P. J. Proudhon by Edgeworth.]
In dismissing authority debts have been paid and slaveries abolished, mortgages raised, leases converted to fee simple, the costs of worship, of law, and of government suppressed, exchanges made direct wherever feasible, all values freely current in money, education attractively organized for practical industries, homes secure, markets open to fair competition, no cornering, no monopoly. No more central governments, but industrial congresses. For religion, faith kept with the neighbor, and truth to one’s own character. No arbitrary laws, but reciprocal justice and leagues for relative defence. Equilibrium, not by political Balance of Powers, but by the interchange of social sympathies.
One epoch, momentous for Authority, was the promulgation of the Decalogue. Behold the people prostrate at the foot of Mount Sinai, awaiting the word from on high. Legislation, in adopting this style, has put, in the place of God, the monarch, the parliament, the congress, and the majority vote. These fractional gods toot, each through its penny trumpet: take the Czar’s, as the loudest. Thou shalt not assemble. Thou shalt not print. Thou shalt not read. Thou shalt obey thy officers,— thy representatives, echoes America. The Litany adds — and laws which their wisdom hath devised. Thou shalt pay the taxes. And thou shalt love the Government, thy Lord, with thy whole heart, hands, and purse; for this government knows better than thou what thou art, what thou art fit for, and what befits thee. It has the power to punish those who disobey it, and to reward those who serve it, and flatter it, even to the fourth generation.
O human personality! Can it be that during sixty centuries thou hast wallowed in this mire? Thou callest thyself sacred, and thou art but the strumpet of thy rulers, thy soldiers, and thy priests. To be governed: that means to be overseen, espied, directed, legiferated, penned up, indoctrinated, fettered, fleeced, censured, punished; by men with no more science or virtue than the worst of you. To be governed: in petto, means in every transaction to be notified, registered, licensed, stamped, patented, authorized, admonished, hindered, corrected, and, above all, taxed. It is, in the name of public interest, to be sized and measured, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, cornered, pressured, mystified, and robbed; then, at the least resistance or complaint, repressed, fined, vilified, vexed, hounded, knocked down, disarmed, gagged, imprisoned, judged, condemned, exiled, knouted, shot, or hanged: after having been tricked, derided, outraged, and dishonored. Such is government, such its justice, its morality. And to say that among us there are democrats, singing the praises of government! Socialists, sustaining this ignominy in the name of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity! Laborers, voting for a president of the republic, another King Stork, a stereotyped figure-head of authority and privilege, the grin of hypocrisy set on its mask!
We turn to the social evolution.
The research of first causes and of final causes is eliminated at once from natural and social science. Progress replaces the absolute. To revelation succeeds revolution. Reason, based on observation and experience, expounds the laws of Nature, society included. She says to man: These laws are of necessity; no man has made them, no one imposes them; they have been gradually discovered, every one may verify them; I exist only to attest them.
If you guide your acts by these, you will be just and kind; if you violate them, you will be unjust and cruel.
Among your fellow-beings, many already have recognised the policy of justice, and agreed to keep faith and do right towards each other, with a view to prosperity, security, and peace. Will you also promise to respect the property of others, and their personal liberty when not aggressive?
Will you promise never to appropriate by violence, by fraud, by usury, monopoly, or stockjobbing, the means needful to other men’s prosperity by labor? Promise not to lie nor to deceive?
You are free to accept, or to refuse.
If you refuse, you exclude yourself from social communion. On the least offence any one may strike you down as a brute.
If, on the contrary, you swear the compact, you enter tire society of free men, all of whom engage with you their aid and service in loyal exchange. Upon any infraction of this compact, you are mutually responsible for the damage, the scandal, or the danger, and the gravity or repetition of such offences may incur excommunication or death. Instead of swearing before God and to government, you swear to your conscience and your brothers in Humanity. Between such oaths there is the difference between faith and science; between courts and justice; between usury and labor; between government and social economy. One is the word of a creature, the other of a being.
One Reason Why Men Become Tramps.
It will not do to decide, unless you have investigated, that the dirty, lazy tramp with whom, as a novelty, you get into conversation is an ignorant loon. Many of these poor devils are as ignorant as they make them; but, again, the proportion who have somehow got an education is remarkable; and, more than that, they are well-read men. They are well-informed upon current topics. They have their own ideas upon the political questions of the day, and very intelligent ideas they often are. They may not get the daily newspaper daily, but those papers they do get they devour. There are those among them who will startle you with their classical knowledge, and they will speak two or three modern languages. And yet they are what they are. Perhaps they may have looked for work and become disheartened that they could not obtain the order of employment to which they considered themselves entitled. The man who can scan Virgil and spatter in French and German believes there is something better for him than ditch-digging. And then, may be, only ditch-digging offers. And then, may be, he cannot have even ditch-digging. And then he cares for nothing, and is speedily transformed into a bummer and a loafer. In the army of tramps there are numerous recruits of this character. They who were so well fitted for life discover that life masters them at every turn. With trained vigorous intellects to cause them to despise all that is coarse and low, they descend to near the level of brutes. They philosophize upon human existence, and, counting that the world owes them a living, shut their brains and their hearts, and their very souls, to all that would rouse their ambition, and ask only that they may be let alone to walk on to the end as best they may. They have destroyed all of the man in them, and of that they are fully aware, and so on they go until the curtain drops, as they, forgotten, fall into unknown graves.
One Cudgel as Good as Another.
What difference does it make whether you are governed by a sword, a holy-water sprinkler, or an umbrella? It is always a cudgel, and I am astonished that progressive men spend their time in disputing as to the kind of stick that shall be laid across their shoulders, when it would be much more progressive and less expensive to break it and throw the pieces to all the devils.
The Situation and Its Key.
The price of wheat is bounding upward.
The farmer has sold his wheat, and the monopolist grip on it.
Crops are below the average this year, and will remain below until the gambler disposes of his load.
The miner must stand a reduction, because the people don’t need much coal in summer.
The people must pay a big price for that commodity, because the miners are on strike.
The monopolist sets the price at both ends, and robs the people all the way through.
Workingmen listen to tariff talks and free trade harangues, and are beaten on all sides.
Working people have to feed the preying vultures, because they neglect to do their own thinking.
Organization and cooperation will break the back-bone of monopoly, if vigorously applied.
But working people fear they will be cheated by cooperation, and content themselves with the old system of robbery.
Some day, however, they will learn sense.
And when they do, the trade of the monopolist and stock-gambler will be gone.
Agitate,— it will do away with old fogyism.
Educate,— it is the road leading to a better system, one which will be the means of giving you the just fruits of your labor.
Organize, and cooperate,— it is the road which will lead out of the den of thieves.
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.