“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.
In view of the “Pall Mall Gazette’s” recent exposures of sexual life in London, wouldn’t this be a good time for Matthew Arnold to launch another diatribe from that land of sweetness and light against those horrid people, the French, and their besetting sin, lubricity?
The superiority of French newspapers is evidenced afresh by their ability to see, and courage to tell, the truth about Grant. And their criticism of him, whatever American scribblers may say, is based on something deeper than mere spite at his sympathy with Germany in the war of 1870. His attitude then, by the way, discreditable as it is, was natural enough. Nothing was better calculated to win Grant’s approbation than the Bismarckian motto, “Might before right.”
The duration of a man’s fame is not to be measured by the length of his funeral procession. Gambetta two years ago had a greater funeral than Grant, but is now almost forgotten, being remembered chiefly by those who suffered from his wickedness. If, however, the preservation of a man’s memory were proportioned to the number of his mourners, then Victor Hugo’s celebrity would last sixteen times longer than Grant’s. Fifty thousand men marched to Riverside Park, eight hundred thousand to the Pantheon. But these and all other men get measured by their merits finally. That criterion will prove Hugo a man of the ages and Grant a creature of the moment. The glories of war are on the decline, raid when their glare, which now unduly magnifies this soldier’s qualities, shall be lifted by the peace-loving spirit destined to animate the new society, he will pass into oblivion, unless cruel fate shall refuse him even that boon, and insist on turning his fame into infamy in the truer and inextinguishable light of the verse in which Hugo once denounced him.
And you, too, John Swinton! Do you “lay a wreath of evergreen on the bier of General Grant as the Victorious Sword of Abolition,” and “for his service as such honor his name,” and declare that “in the ages to come Grant will be remembered as the Soldier of Negro-Emancipation”? Are you not aware, then, that Grant never cared a rap for the abolition of slavery? Do you not know that up to the time of the war he sympathized with slavery and acted with the party that upheld it? Did it never occur to you that, if the North had been the faction to secede as a rebellion against slavery, this “Victorious Sword of Abolition” would have been just as quickly unsheathed on the side of the Union,— that is, in that case, on the side of slavery? And you “honor his name” simply because he happened to exercise his military faculty on that side of our civil struggle which happened to find it for its interest to abolish slavery! I supposed that motive, first of all, was the thing to be honored or despised. Why, John Brown, with his defeat at Harper’s Ferry and execution at Charlestown, was far more truly the Soldier of Negro-Emancipation than Grant with his whole unbroken line of successes from Donelson to Appomattox and pompous funeral at New York. And I regret that you, John Swinton, should dim the lustre of your glowing eulogy of that great law-breaker, with which I once enriched these columns, by honoring with the same pen the cold-hearted political schemer whose being never felt a thrill of moral indignation.
The “Pall Mall Gazette” deprecates the rising of the age of consent in girls to eighteen on the ground that such a law would destroy the means of livelihood of a host of young girls already launched into immoral life. The article says that the proposal is as forcible an interference with vested rights as can be contemplated, as it would abolish the present means of subsistence of a large number of girls without compensating them for the legislative confiscation of their income. Upon this the virtuous London “Spectator” declares that it is impossible to attribute noble motives to the “Pall Mall Gazette” after reading this grossly cynical and atrocious palliation of vice. On the contrary, this is excellent evidence of the nobility of its motives; for it shows that the “Pall Mall” is engaged in no Salvation Army crusade in the interest of a namby-pamby morality, but in a manly warfare on force and fraud. It knows full well that the girls of London have a right to use their bodies as they choose as long as they do not interfere with others’ rights, and it is not stupid enough to undertake to stop them. It is fighting crime, not vice. And in so far its work is Anarchistic.
General Butler, in his Lowell oration on Grant, said: “Let me say here and now that there is now no man who dares to raise the cry of corruption against Grant.” It is not true. I dare, and do. I have not the time or space to review Grant’s shameful record here, but any one who chooses may go back to 1872, and, after making all possible allowance for the exaggerations of a bitter political campaign, sum up for himself all that is true and undeniable in the allegations then made against Grant, and ask himself, “Is this the record of an honest man?” Why, the one fact, of recent date, that Grant put his money into the firm of Grant & Ward with the expectation that it would yield him fifty or a hundred per cent., this expectation being based on Ferdinand Ward’s assurances that profits to that extent would accrue from certain mysterious government contracts which the political influence of Grant’s name would enable him to secure, shows that he was only too glad of a chance to become a silent partner in any manner of jobbery and robbery. The theory that Grant’s course in this matter can be explained by simplicity and credulity is one that I am not credulous enough to take any stock in. General Butler roundly and rightly condemns “the right-about-face of those independent journals which had accused Grant of corruption and ‘Caesarism’ now filled to overflowing with fulsome praises and adulatory notices, extorted, not as they should be by a sense of justice, but by a fear of the avenging hand if they dared to repeat them, put in motion by the veneration of their victim fresh from the people’s hearts.” Well, no “fear of the avenging hand” shall keep, the truth out of these columns. Most of what has been said in them about Grant has been inspired by a sense of overwhelming indignation and disgust at the cringing and crawling of the sycophants to whom General Butler refers. And it is but just to General Butler to add that, in contrast with the extravagance of their laudation, the comparative moderation of his own eulogy brings a slight feeling of relief.
Justice That Is.
[New York Star.]
There may be justice on this earth,
But it is hard to find it.
One thing I see. There is no dearth
Of civil law behind it.
There may be purpose in this life,—
A hope we needs must cherish;
We know there is a cruel strife
In which the millions perish.
That justice fails it is not strange,
Though backed by Legislature;
There is no attribute can change
The gain of human nature.
There is improvement of some kind,
Although the poor grow poorer,
And the development of mind
Has made their fetters surer.
I wonder any man who feels
Upon hiss life indented
The stamp of human iron heels
And blows, can he contented.
Can he contrast his bitter lot
With the overflowing purses
Of proud and idle men, and not
Break forth in fervent curses?
I know it sounds divine in song,
As from the gentle preacher,
To say God knoweth best; but wrong
Is quite another teacher.
The millions who have felt the sting
Of want their spirits fettering
Can never gather faith to sing,
The curse is for their bettering.
I know that patience in the end
Will triumph over sorrow;
But what will mend the backs that bend
And break before tomorrow?
I know that justice comes at last,—
We need not fret about it —
Our fathers thought so in the past,
And bled and died without it.
I honor science, for I see
Her eye is all discerning.
Our age is wise,— I wish that we
Could utilize our learning.
Ah, what are all the gains of art,
The boasted deeds of story?
The anguisn of one human heart
Outweighs a nation’s glory!
Let the Thieves Begin.
[H. S. S.]
When social reformers are sarcastically reminded of the commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” they may well retort on their capitalist advisers with the clever answer given by Alphonse Karr to those who demanded the abolition of capital punishment, “Que messieurs les assassins y coramencent.” By all means let there be no more stealing; and let the greatest thieves be the first to reform.
Only a Change of Slaveries.
[Edgeworth in the Labor Journal.]
Chattel slavery was far more personal in its relations than the hireling system; hence it supplied moral checks of character absent from wage exploitation. Cruel on one plantation and kind on another, it had no average level of horrors like the slums of London, the Chinese blocks and tenement hells of our great cities, or the actual destitution of proletaries every where. To pretend that liberty or humanity has gained by the transition from the slave to the hireling is one of those deliberate sophisms which the theory of progress finds it necessary to invent, in order to hide the fact that it has missed the solution of the problem of destinies. Better for the laborer to remain the slave of a personal master than to become tho victim of a soulless institution. If a little knowledge be a dangerous thing, a little liberty is more so. Drink deep or taste not.
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.]
Sir, if a government is to “do equal and exact justice to all men,” it must do simply that, and nothing more. If it does more than that to any,— that is, if it gives monopolies, privileges, exemptions, bounties, or favors to any,— it can do so only by doing injustice to more or less others. It can give to one only what it takes from others; for it has nothing of its own to give to any one. The best that it can do for all, and the only honest thing it can do for any, is simply to secure to each and every one his own rights,— the rights that nature gave him,— his rights of person, and his rights of property; leaving him, then, to pursue his own interests, and secure his own welfare, by the free and full exercise of his own powers of body and mind; so long as he trespasses upon the equal rights of no other person.
If he desires any favors from any body, he must, I repeat, depend upon the voluntary kindness of such of his fellow men as may be willing to grant them. No government can have any right to grant them; because no government can have a right to take from one man any thing that is his, and give it to another.
If this be the only true idea of an honest government, it is plain that it can have nothing to do with men’s “interests,” “welfare,” or “prosperity,” as distinguished from their “rights.” Being secured in their rights, each and all must take the sole charge of, and have the sole responsibility for, their own “interests,” “welfare,” and “prosperity.”
By simply protecting every man in his rights, a government necessarily keeps open to every one the widest possible field, that he honestly can have, for such industry as he may choose to follow. It also insures him the widest possible field for obtaining such capital as he needs for his industry, and the widest possible markets for the products of his labor. With the possession of these rights, he must be content.
No honest government can go into business with any individuals, be they many, or few. It cannot furnish capital to any, nor prohibit the loaning of capital to any. It can give to no one any special aid to competition; nor protect any one from competition. It must adhere inflexibly to the principle of entire freedom for all honest industry, and all honest traffic. It can do to no one any favor, nor render to any one any assistance, which it withholds from another. It must hold the scales impartially between them; taking no cognizance of any man’s “interests,” “welfare,” or “prosperity,” otherwise than by simply protecting him in his “rights.”
In opposition to this view, lawmakers profess to have weighty duties laid upon them, to promote men’s “interests,” “welfare,” and “prosperity,” as distinguished from their “rights.” They seldom have any thing to say about men’s “rights.” On the contrary, they take it for granted that they are charged with he duty of promoting, superintending, directing, and controlling the “business” of the country. In the performance of this supposed duty, all ideas of individual “rights” are cast aside. Not knowing any way — because there is no way — in which they can impartially promote all men’s “interests,” “welfare,” and “prosperity,” otherwise than by protecting impartially all men’s rights, they boldly proclaim that “individual rights must not be permitted to stand in the way of the public good, the public welfare, and the business interests of the country.”
Substantially all their lawmaking proceeds upon this theory; for there is no other theory, on which they can find any justification whatever for any lawmaking at all. So they proceed to give monopolies, privileges, bounties, grants, loans, etc., etc., to particular persons, or classes of persons; justifying themselves by saying that these privileged persons will “give employment” to the unprivileged; and that this employment, given by the privileged to the unprivileged, will compensate the latter for the loss of their “rights.” And they carry on their lawmaking of this kind to the greatest extent they think is possible, without causing rebellion and revolution, on the part of the injured classes.
Sir, I am sorry to see that you adopt this lawmaking theory to its fullest extent; that although, for once only, and in a dozen words only,— and then merely incidentally,— you describe the government as “a government pledged to do equal and exact justice to all men,” you show, throughout the rest of your address, that you have no thought of abiding by that principle; that you are either utterly ignorant, or utterly regardless, of what that principle requires of you; that the government, so far as your influence goes, is to be given up to the business of lawmaking,— that is, to the business of abolishing justice, and establishing injustice in its place; that you hold it to be the proper duty and function of the government to be constantly looking after men’s “interests,” “welfare,” “prosperity,” etc., etc., as distinguished from their rights; that it must consider men’s “rights” as no guide to the promotion of their “interests”; that it must give favors to some, and withhold the same favors from others; that in order to give these favors to some, it must take from others their rights; that, in reality, it must traffic in both men’s interests and their rights; that it must keep open shop, and sell men’s interests and rights to the highest bidders; and that this is your only plan for promoting “the general welfare,” “the Common interest,” etc., etc.
That such is your idea of the constitutional duties and functions of the government, is shown by different parts of your address: but more fully, perhaps, by this:
The large variety of diverse and competing interests subject to federal control, persistently seeking recognition of their claims, need give us no fear that the greatest good of the greatest number will fail to be accomplished, if, in the halls of national legislation, that spirit of amity and mutual concession shall prevail, in which the constitution had its birth. If this involves the surrender or postponement of private interests, and the abandonment of local advantages, compensation will be found in the assurance that thus the common interest is subserved, and the general welfare advanced.
What is all this but saying that the government is not at all an institution for “doing equal and exact justice to all men,” or for the impartial protection of all men’s rights; but that it is its proper business to take sides, for and against, a “large variety of diverse and competing interests”; that it has this “large variety of diverse and competing interests” under its arbitrary “control”; that it can, at its pleasure, make such laws as will give success to some of them, and insure the defeat of others; that these “various, diverse, and competing interests” will be “persistently seeking recognition of their claims.... in the halls of national legislation,” — that is, will be “persistently” clamoring for laws to be made in their favor; that, in fact, “the halls of national legislation” are to be mere arenas, into which the government actually invites the advocates and representatives of all the selfish schemes of avarice and ambition that unprincipled men can devise; that these schemes will there be free to “compete” with each other in their corrupt offers for government favor and support; and that it is to be the proper and ordinary business of the lawmakers to listen to all these schemes; to adopt some of them, and sustain them with all the money and power of the government; and to “postpone,” “abandon,” oppose, and defeat all others; it being well known, all the while, that the lawmakers will, individually, favor, or oppose, these various schemes, according to their own irresponsible will, pleasure, and discretion,— that is, according as they can better serve their own personal interests and ambitions by doing the one or the other.
Was a more thorough scheme of national villainy ever invented?
Sir, do you not know that in this conflict, between these “various, diverse, and competing interests,” all ideas of individual “rights” — all ideas of “equal and exact justice to all men” — will be cast to the winds; that the boldest, the strongest, the most fraudulent, the most rapacious, and the most corrupt, men will have control of the government, and make it a mere instrument for plundering the great body of the people?
Your idea of the real character of the government is plainly this: The lawmakers are to assume absolute and irresponsible “control” of all the financial resources, all the legislative, judicial, and executive powers, of the government, and employ them all for the promotion of such schemes of plunder and ambition as they may select from all those that may be submitted to them for their approval; that they are to keep “the halls of national legislation” wide open for the admission of all persons having such schemes to offer; and that they are to grant monopolies, privileges, loans, and bounties to all such of these schemes as they can make subserve their own individual interests and ambitions, and reject or “postpone” all others. And that there is to be no limit to their operations of this kind, except their fear of exciting rebellion and resistance on the part of the plundered classes.
And you are just fool enough to tell us that such a government as this may be relied on to “accomplish the greatest good to the greatest number,” “to subserve the common interest,” and “advance the general welfare,” “if,” only, “in the halls of national legislation, that spirit of amity and mutual concession shall prevail, in which the constitution had its birth.”
You here assume that “the general welfare” is to depend, not upon the free and untrammelled enterprise ana industry of the whole people, acting individually, and each enjoying and exercising all his natural rights; but wholly or principally upon the success of such particular schemes as the government may take under its special “control.” And this means that “the general welfare” is to depend, wholly or principally, upon such privileges, monopolies, loans, and bounties as the government may grant to more or less of that “large variety of diverse and competing interests” — that is, schemes — that may be “persistently” pressed upon its attention.
But as you impliedly acknowledge that the government cannot take all these “interests” (schemes) under its “control,” and bestow its favors upon all alike, you concede that some of them must be “surrendered,” “postponed,” or “abandoned”; and that, consequently, the government cannot get on at all, unless, “in the halls of national legislation, that spirit of amity and mutual concession shall prevail, in which the constitution had its birth.”
This “spirit of amity and mutual concession in the halls of legislation,” you explain to mean this: a disposition, on the part of the lawmakers respectively — whose various schemes of plunder cannot all be accomplished, by reason of their being beyond the financial resources of the government, or the endurance of the people — to “surrender” some of them, “postpone” others, and “abandon” others, in order that the general business of robbery may go on to the greatest extent possible, and that each one of the lawmakers may succeed with as many of the schemes he is specially intrusted with, as he can carry through by means of such bargains, for mutual help, as he may be able to make with his fellow lawmakers.
Such is the plan of government, to which you say that you “consecrate” yourself, and “engage your every faculty and effort.”
Was a more shameless avowal ever made?
You cannot claim to be ignorant of what crimes such a government will commit. You have had abundant opportunity to know — and if you have kept your eyes open, you do know — what these schemes of robbery have been in the past; and from these you can judge what they will be in the future.
You know that under such a system, every senator and representative — probably without an exception — will come to the congress as the champion of the dominant scoundrelisms of his own State or district; that he will be elected solely to serve those “interests,” as you call them; that in offering himself as a candidate, he will announce the robbery, or robberies, to which all his efforts will be directed; that he will call these robberies his “policy”; or if he be lost to all decency, he will call them his “principles”; that they will always be such as he thinks will best subserve his own interests, or ambitions; that he will go to “the halls of national legislation” with his head full of plans for making bargains with other lawmakers — as corrupt as himself — for mutual help in carrying their respective schemes.
Such has been the character of our congresses nearly, or quite, from the beginning. It can scarcely be said that there has ever been an honest man in one of them. A man has sometimes gained a reputation for honesty, in his own State or district, by opposing some one or more of the robberies that were proposed by members from other portions of the country. But such a man has seldom, or never, desticed his reputation; for he has, generally, if not always, been the advocate of some one or more schemes of robbery, by which more or less of his own constituents were to profit, and which he knew it would be indispensable that he should advocate, in order to give him votes at home.
If there have ever been any members, who were consistently honest throughout,— who were really in favor of “doing equal and exact justice to all men,” — and, of course, nothing more than that to any,— their numbers have been few; so few as to have left no mark upon the general legislation. They have but constituted the exceptions that proved the rule. If you were now required to name such a lawmaker, I think you would search our history in vain to find him.
That this is no exaggerated description of our national lawmaking, the following facts will prove.
For the first seventy years of the government, one portion of the lawmakers would be satisfied with nothing less than permission to rob one-sixth, or one-seventh, of the whole population, not only of their labor, but even of their right to their own persons. In 1860, this class of lawmakers comprised all the senators and representatives from fifteen, of the then thirty-three, States.*
This body of lawmakers, standing always firmly together, and capable of turning the scale for, or against, any scheme of robbery, in which northern men were interested, but on which northern man were divided,— such as navigation acts, tariffs, bounties, grants, war, peace, ete.,— could purchase immunity for their own crime, by supporting such, and so many, northern crimes — second only to their own in atrocity — as could he mutually agreed on.
In this way the slaveholders bargained for, and secured, protection for slavery and the slave trade, by consenting to such navigation acts as some of the northern States desired, and to such tariffs on imports — such as iron, coal, wool, woollen goods, etc.,— as should enable the home producers of similar articles to make fortunes by robbing everybody else in the prices of their goods.
Another class of lawmakers have been satisfied with nothing less than such a monopoly of money, as should enable the holders of it to suppress, as far as possible, all industry and traffic, except such as they themselves should control; such a monopoly of money as would put it wholly out of the power of the great body of wealth-producers to hire the capital needed for their industries; and thus compel them — especially the mechanical portions of them — by the alternative of starvation — to sell their labor to the monopolists of money, for just such prices as these latter should choose to pay. This monopoly of money has also given, to the holders of it, a control, so nearly absolute, of all industry — agricultural as well as mechanical — and all traffic, as has enabled them to plunder all the producing classes in the prices of their labor, or the products of their labor.
Have you been blind, all these years, to the existence, or the effects, of this monopoly of money?
Still another class of lawmakers have demanded unequal taxation on the various kinds of home property, that are subject to taxation; such unequal taxation as would throw heavy burdens upon some kinds of property, and very light burdens, or no burdens at all, upon other kinds.
And yet another class of lawmakers have demanded great appropriations, or loans, or money, or grants of lands, to enterprises intended to give great wealth to a few, at the expense of everybody else.
These are some of the schemes of downright and outright robbery, which you mildly describe as “the large variety of diverse and competing interests, subject to federal control, persistently seeking recognition of their claims.....in the halls of national legislation”; and each having its champions and representatives among the lawmakers.
You know that all, or very nearly all, the legislation of congress is devoted to these various schemes of robbery; and that little, or no, legislation goes through, except by means of such bargains as these lawmakers may enter into with each other, for mutual support of their respective robberies. And yet you have the mendacity, or the stupidity, to tell us that so much of this legislation as does go through, may be relied on to “accomplish the greatest good to the greatest number,” to “subserve the common interest,” and “advance the general welfare.”
And when these schemes of robbery become so numerous, atrocious, and unendurable that they can no longer be reconciled “in the halls of national legislation,” by “surrendering” some of them, “postponing” others,and “abandoning” others, you assume — for such has been the prevailing opinion, and you say nothing to the contrary — that it is the right of the strongest party, or parties, to murder a half million of men, if that be necessary,— and as we once did,— not to secure liberty or justice to any body,— but to compel the weaker of these would-be robbers to submit to all such robberies as the stronger ones may choose to practise upon them.
* In the Senate they stood to thirty-six, in the house ninenty to one hundred and forty-seven, in the two branches united one hundred and twenty to one hundred and eighty-three, relatively to the non-slaveholding members.
From the foundation of the government — without a single interval, I think — the lawmakers from the slaveholding States had been, relatively, as strong, or stronger, than in 1860.
What’s To Be Done?
By N. G. Tchernychewsky.
Translated by Benj. R. Tucker.
Continued from No. 64.
Why is it necessary to give you the precise conversation? Because it is Rakhmétoff’s conversation with Véra Pavlovna. Do you understand now? No, not yet? What a thick head! How weak-minded you are! I am going to make you understand.
When two men talk, one sees more or less the character of these men; do you see whither this tends? Was Véra Pavlovna’s character sufficiently well known to you before this conversation? It was; you have learned nothing about her: you already knew that she flares up, that she jests, that she likes good things to eat and a glass of sherry to drink; therefore the conversation was necessary to show the character, not of Véra Pavlovna, but of whom then? There were but two in the conversation, she and Rakhmétoff. To show the character, not of Véra Pavlovna, but — well, guess!
“Rakhmétoff,” shouts the reader with the penetrating eye.
Bravo! You have hit it; I like you for that. Well, you see, it is just the contrary of what you first thought. Rakhmétoff is not shown for the sake of the conversation, but the conversation is given to make you better acquainted with Rakhmétoff and solely for that purpose. Through this conversation you have learned that Rakhmétoff had a desire for sherry, although he never drank wine; that Rakhmétoff was not absolutely solemn and morose; that on the contrary, when engaged in agreeable business, he forgot his sorrowful thoughts, his bitter sadness, and gaily jested and made merry: only, as he explained it, “that is rarely the case with me, and I am sorry that, it is so rarely the case; I do not like to be solemn, but circumstances are such that a man with my ardent love of good cannot help being solemn; if it were not for that, I should jest, I should laugh; perhaps I should sing and dance all day long.” Do you understand now, reader with the penetrating eye, why, though many pages were used in directly describing Rakhmétoff, I have devoted additional pages to the accomplishment of the same purpose indirectly? Tell me, now, why I have shown and described this figure in such detail. Remember what I have, already told you,— “solely to satisfy the most essential condition of art.” What is this condition, and how is it satisfied by the fact that I have put Rakhmétoff’s figure before you? Do you understand? No, you cannot see. Well, listen. Or rather do not listen; you will never understand; go away; I have laughed at you enough. I speak to you no longer, but to the public, and I speak seriously. The first demand of art consists in this,— to so represent objects that the reader may conceive them as they really are. For instance, if I wish to represent a house, I must see to it that the reader will conceive it as a house, and not as a hovel or a palace. If I wish to represent an ordinary man, I must see to it that the reader will not conceive him as a dwarf or as a giant.
It has been my purpose to represent ordinarily upright people of the new generation, people whom I meet by hundreds. I have taken three of them: Véra Pavlovna, Lopoukhoff, and Kirsanoff. I consider them ordinary people, they consider themselves such, and are considered such by all their acquaintances (who resemble them). Have I spoken in any other vein? Have I told extraordinary things? I have represented them with affection and esteem, it is true, but that is because every upright man is worthy of such affection and esteem.
But when have I bowed before them? Where have you seen in me the slightest tendency to adoration, or hint that nothing superior to them can be imagined and that, they are ideal characters? As I conceive them, so they act,— like simple, upright people of the new generation. What do they do that is remarkably elevated? They do not do cowardly things, they are not poltroons, they have honest but ordinary convictions, they try to act accordingly, and that is all. Where is their heroism? Yes, it has been my purpose to show human beings acting just as all ordinary men of this type act, and I hope I have succeeded. Those of my readers who are intimately acquainted with living men of this type have seen from the beginning and up to the present moment that my principal characters are not at all ideal and not above the general level of people of their type, and that these men do not act in real life in any other way than that in which I picture their, as acting. Suppose that other upright people had been confronted with a slightly different situation: it is not a matter of absolute necessity or fatality that all husbands and all wives should separate; all upright wives do not strongly feel a passionate love for their husband’s friend, all upright men do not have to struggle against their passion for a married woman during three whole years; nor is one always forced to blow his brains out on a bridge or (to use the words of the reader with the penetrating eye) to disappear from a hotel to go no one knows where. But no upright man in the place of the people pictured by me would have considered it heroic to do as they have done; he would do likewise under similar circumstances. Many times he has acted thus in many situations no less difficult, if not still more so, and yet he does not consider himself a man to be admired, but simply an ordinary, moderately upright man, nothing more. And the friends of such a man, resembling him (for these people form friendships only with those who act and think as they do), consider him an estimable man, but never dream for a moment of dropping on their knees before him; they say to themselves: We, too, are like him.
I hope, I say, that I have succeeded in making every upright man of the new generation recognize the type of his friends in my three characters. But those who from the beginning of the story have been able to think of Véra Pavlovna, Kirsanoff, and Lopoukhoff as “our friends, people like ourselves simply,”— these are yet but a minority of the public. The majority are still much below this type. A man who has never seen anything but dirty huts might take an engraving of a very ordinary house for the picture of a palace. How shall the house be made to seem to such a man a house and not a palace? Only by showing in the same picture even a little wing of a palace; he will then see from this wing that the palace must be quite a different thing from the building represented in the picture, and that the latter is really but a simple house no better than every one ought to have, perhaps not as good. If I had not shown the figure of Rakhmétoff, the majority of readers would have had a false idea of the principal characters of my story. I will wager that up to the concluding paragraphs of this chapter Véra Pavlovna, Kirsanoff, and Lopoukhoff have seemed to the majority of the public to be heroes, individuals of a superior nature, if not ideal persons, if not even persons impossible in real life by reason of their very noble conduct. No, my poor friends, you have been wrong in this thought: they are not too high, you are too low. You see now that they simply stand on the surface of the earth; and, if they have seemed to you to be soaring in the clouds, it is because you are in the infernal depths. The height where they stand all men should and can reach.
Elevated natures, such as neither you nor I, my poor friends, can equal,— elevated natures are not like these. I have shown you a faint outline of the profile of one of them; the features are different, as you clearly see. Now, it is possible for you to become entirely the equals of the men whom I represent provided you will work for your intellectual and moral development. Whoever is beneath them is very low.
Come up from your caves, my friends, ascend! It is not so difficult. Come to the surface of this earth where one is so well situated and the road is easy and attractive! Try it: development! development! Observe, think, read those who tell you of the pure enjoyment of life, of the possible goodness and happiness of man.
Read them, their books delight the heart; observe life,— it is interesting; think,— it is a pleasant occupation. And that is all. Sacrifices are unnecessary, privations are unnecessary, unnecessary. Desire to be happy: this desire, this desire alone, is indispensable. With this end in view you will work with pleasure for your development, for there lies happiness.
Oh! how great the pleasure enjoyed by a man of developed mind! That which would make another suffer he feels to be a satisfaction, a pleasure, so many are the joys to which his heart is open.
Try it, and you will see how good it is.
The Life of Véra Pavlovna with her Second Husband.
Berlin, July 20, 1856.
Madame and highly esteemed Véra Pavlovna:
My intimacy with Dmitry Serguéitch Lopoukhoff, who has just perished, and my profound esteem for you lead me to hope that you will kindly admit me among the number of your acquaintances, although I am entirely unknown to you. However that may be, I make bold to believe that you will not accuse me of importunity. I but execute effectively the will of this poor Dmitry Serguéitch; and you may consider the information which I have to communicate to you on his account as perfectly authentic, for the good reason that I am going to give you his own thoughts in his own words, as if he were speaking himself.
These are his words upon the matter which it is the object of my letter to clear up:
“The ideas which have resulted in pushing me to the act that has so much alarmed my intimate friends [I give you the very words of Dmitry Serguéitch, as I have already told you] ripened in me gradually, and changed several times before taking their definitive form. It was quite unexpectedly that I was struck by the event which threw me into these thoughts, and only when she [Dmitry Serguéitch refers to you] told me with fright a dream that had horrified her. This dream made a great impression on me, and as a man who analyzed the feelings which caused it I understood from that moment that new horizons were about to dawn upon her life, and that for a longer or shorter time the nature of our relations would completely change. One always tries to maintain to the last extremity the position which one has made for himself. At the bottom of our nature lies that conservative element which we abandon only when forced to do so. There, in my opinion, is to be found the explanation of my first supposition. I wished to believe, and I did really believe, that this change would not be of long duration, that our old relations would be reestablished. She even tried to escape this change by holding herself to me as closely as possible. That had its influence upon me, and for some days I believed it possible to realize her hope. But I soon saw, nevertheless, that this hope was vain.
“The reason lies in my character, which, in so speaking of it, I in no wise blame. I simply so understand things.
“He who employs his time well divides it into three parts,— work, pleasure, rest or distraction. Pleasure demands rest as much as work does. In work and in pleasure the human element predominates over individual peculiarities. We are driven to labor by the preponderant motive of external rational needs. To pleasure by the preponderant motive of other needs of human nature,— needs quite as general. By rest and distraction the individual seeks to reestablish his forces after the excitement which has exhausted them. In this the individual decides freely for himself in accordance with his personal tastes and proclivities. In work and in pleasure men are drawn to each other by a powerful general force above their personal peculiarities,— in work by a clearly understood self-interest, and in pleasure by the identical needs of the organism. In rest it is not the same. Here there is no general force acting to dominate individual peculiarities: leisure is of all things the most personal, the thing in which nature demands most liberty; here man most individualizes himself, each seeking the satisfaction most agreeable to him.
“In this respect men are divided into two principal categories. For those of one category leisure or distraction is most agreeable in the society of others. Solitude is indispensable to every one. But to them it is indispensable that it should be an exception, their rule being life with others. This class is much more numerous than the other, which needs the opposite. Those of the latter class are more at ease in solitude than in society. This divergence has been remarked by general opinion, which has signified it by the expressions ‘sociable men’ and ‘unsociable men.’ I belong to the category of the unsociables, she to that of the sociables. That is the whole secret of our history. It is clear that neither of us is to blame for this, any more than either of us is to blame for not having strength enough to remove this cause: man can do nothing against his own nature.
“It is very difficult for us to understand the peculiarities of other natures; every man pictures all other men to himself from the standpoint of his own character. That which I do not need others need no more than I, so our individuality manifests itself. I need more than evidence to recall me to the opposite feeling. The situation which suits me ought, in my opinion, to suit others. This tendency of thought being natural, in it I find my excuse for having remarked too late the difference between her nature and my own. This is important. When we began to live together, she placed me on too high a pedestal: so at that time we did not stand on an equality. She had too much esteem for me; my way of living seemed to her exemplary; she considered my individual peculiarity as a characteristic befitting all men, and for a time she was under its influence. There was, besides, a reason that controlled her in a different way.
“The inviolability of the inner life is very lightly esteemed amorg people of but little intellectual development. Every member of the family — especially the oldest members — unceremoniously thrusts his nose into your private life. Not that our secrets are thereby violated: secrets are things more or less precious, which one does not forget to conceal and guard. Moreover, every man does not have them, so numerous are those who have nothing to hide from their relatives. But every one wishes to keep a little corner of his inner life into which no one may penetrate, just as every one wishes to have a room of his own. People of but little intellectual development pay small respect either to the one or the other: even if you have a room of your own, everybody walks into it, not exactly to watch you or intrude upon you, but because they do not dream that they may disturbb you; they imagine that you can object to unexpected visits from none but those whom you dislike; they do not understand that, even with the best intentions, one may be intrusive. The threshold, which no one has a right to cross against the will of the interested party, is respected only in one case, that of the head of the family, who may put out by the shoulders whoever intrudes upon him. All the rest must submit to any and every intrusion and on the most idle pretexts, or even without any pretext at all. A young girl has two every-day dresses, one white and the other red; she puts on the red dress; that is enough to start the babble.
“‘You have put on your red dress, Anuta; why did you do so?’
“Anuta herself does not know why: she had to put on one, and, after all, if she had put on her white dress, it would have been just the same.
“‘I do not know, mamma,’ (or, ‘my sister’).
“‘You would do better to put on your white dress.’
“Why would she do better? Anuta’s questioner does not know, herself; only she must say something.
“‘You are not gay today, Anuta.’
“Anuta is neither gay nor sad.
“‘I did not know it; it seems to me that I am just as usual.’
“‘No, you are not gay.’
“Two minutes later:
“‘If you would play a little on the piano, Anuta.’
“Why, no one knows; and so it goes all day. As if your soul were a street and every one stationed himself at the window to look into it, not expecting to see anything,— knowing, in fact, that he will see nothing useful or interesting,— but looking because he has nothing else to do. Why should not one look into the street? And, indeed, to the street it is a matter of indifference; but man does not like to be intruded upon.
“It is natural that these intrusions, without purpose or intention, should provoke a reaction; and as soon as the individual finds himself in a position to live alone, he takes pleasure for some time in solitude, though naturally inclined to society.
“To come back to the person in question. Before marrying she was in a very peculiar situation; she was intruded upon, her thoughts were scrutinized, not simply to kill time, or even through indelicacy, but systematically, shamelessly, grossly, and with bad intentions. Consequently the reaction was very strong in her.
“That, is why my fault must not be judged too severely. For some months, perhaps a year, I was not mistaken: she did, indeed, need solitude, and took pleasure in it. And during that time I formed my idea of her character. Her intense temporary need of solitude was identical with my constant need; why is it astonishing, then, that I should have taken a temporary phenomenon for a constant trait of her character? Every one is led to judge others by himself!
“This is a fault and a pretty serious one. I do not accuse myself, but I am moved, nevertheless, to justify myself; that is, I foresee that others will not be as indulgent for me as I am for myself. That is why, in order to soften the blame and help to an understanding, I must enter into some details about my character relatively to the subject which we are considering,
“I have no idea of rest except in solitude. To be in society means to me to busy one’s self with something, or to work, or to delight one’s self.
“I feel completely at my ease only when I am alone. What shall we call this feeling? What is its origin? In some it comes from dissimulation; in others, from timidity; in a third class, from a tendency to melancholy; in a fourth, from a lack of sympathy for others. It seems to me that I have none of these things. I am straightforward and sincere; I am always ready to be gay, and am never sad. Company pleases me: only it is all combined for me either with work or with pleasure. But these occupations must be relieved by rest,— that is, by solitude. As far as I can understand myself, I am moved by a desire of independence, of liberty.
“So the force of the reaction against her old family life led her to accept for a time a way of life not in conformity with her steady inclinations; her esteem for me maintained these temporary dispositions in her longer than they would otherwise have lasted. Then I said to myself that I had formed a false idea of her character: I had taken her inclinations of the moment for steady inclinations and I rested on this thought. That is the whole story. On my side there is a fault deserving of not much blame; on hers there is no fault at all. How much suffering all this has cost her, and by what a catastrophe am I forced to put an end to it!
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.
A Want Supplied.
My friend Appleton of Providence wants a word, having got himself in a box by his attempt to include the word “government” in the Anarchistic terminology. In the first number of the London “Anarchist” he tried to justify himself. In the second number Dr. Lazarus promptly and properly came down on him. In a still later number Mr. Appleton explains. He says that, needing a word to explain a certain idea, he consulted me, but could get no more out of me than that I thought the term “government” objectionable. He does not like Dr. Lazarus’s expressions, “harmony” and “spontaneous cooperation,” because they “cannot substitute what the term ‘government’ ought to stand for, since they merely imply conditions, and not the potential factor, which is contemplated in a philosophic analysis of the sources of true order.” So he takes refuge behind Stephen Pearl Andrews, who has assured him “that the term ‘government’ is eminently proper, and cannot be discarded under the present limitations of scientific terminology.”
Right here let me remind Mr. Appleton that, if he had applied to Mr. Andrews for advice regarding the term “State” (which Mr. Appleton tramples under foot as vigorously as I do), he would have received a similar answer. I once heard Mr. Andrews distinctly and publicly affirm, in speaking of a discussion between Proudhon and Louis Blanc, that he was with Louis Blanc for the “State-servant,” Proudhon maintaining, on the contrary, that the State is always and necessarily “State-master.” And yet Mr. Andrews is not an authoritarian, like Louis Blanc, but a libertarian, like Proudhon. The explanation of this seeming inconsistency is that, bothered by the imperfections of language, Mr. Andrews adopts the policy of using words in all their possible meanings, suiting the use to the occasion, while Dr. Lazarus and I think we can better avoid linguistic difficulties by using words in as narrow, exclusive, definite, and individual a sense as possible.
For myself I find no fault with the substitutes which Dr. Lazarus suggests. They serve my purpose, and with them I find no difficulty in achieving a sufficiently clear expression of my thought. While, therefore, Mr. Appleton’s discrimination against them seems to me to be unnecessarily nice, I none the less see that it is a true one, and not a mere caprice. The idea for which he wants a word he describes in the following paragraph:
An individual is one of a dozen sitting in a room. They are all so individualized as to be wholly adrift as to unity of purpose, and something must be done. This individual, through superior knowledge, intellect, will, and personal magnetism, finally makes the right thing to be done as clear as daylight, and they all unitedly do what he proposes. Dr. Lazarus does not like to hear me say that this individual has “governed” the others. But what has he done? This act is an exercise of the leading factor of potentiality which distinguishes Anarchism from the arbitrary force which we indict in the existing State. Philosophy calls for a term which shall express this act, and the English language must supply it. What is it? I invite my critics to supply it, and it was with this in view that I used the term “governmet” in my article, while I confess that it does not sit altogether easily in my conscience.
I suggest — and Josiah Warren suggested it before me — the word “leadership.” It is better than the word “cooperation” in that it refers to the act of influence or guidance rather than to the result of it, and it is better than the word “government” in that it does not imply the idea of authority. Nine out of ten associate the word “government” with compulsion, and both Webster and Worcester emphasize the idea. On the other hand, nine out of ten think of “leadership” as voluntary. How naturally, for instance, one speaks of Garrison as a leader of the abolition movement; how misleading, on the other hand, to call him a governor of the abolition movement! To be sure, the phrase is sometimes heard, “the leader of au army,” but every one realizes, I think, that the more usual and correct phrase is “the commander of an army.”
If the word “leadership” does not satisfy Mr. Appleton, I hope he may find one that suits him better. But he certainly should use it in preference to “government,” which is not a whit less objectionable than the State itself. Anarchists should beware of all words that to the general run of people mean Authority.
The Slave Copies his Master.
While looking about in New York among the labor reformers, my eye took in two fellows who might well be classed at first sight as belonging to the order of “toughs.” Their exteriors were rude and brazen. Plugged firmly into the iron jaws of one of them was a short stub pipe, from which was emitted unwholesome fumes, while the other stalked about the room as if monarch of all he surveyed. Alternately their eyes shot into the faces of one and another about them, and in language less elegant than concise they delivered themselves of strictures upon men and things as if born dictators.
Upon their leaving, a gentleman accosted me, and said: “Do you know who those two fellows are?” “No,” I replied. “Well,” said he, “those crispy and rough lads are what are known as ‘walking delegates’ of the amalgamated bricklayers of New York and vicinity. They wield a power greater than presidents, governors, and mayors. In their sphere they hold capitalists at their mercy. At their command every brick in New York falls to the ground. Within twenty-four hours work on every building in process of erection stops. When they spot a non-union man, he is industrially struck dead. No man can work at brick-laying in these parts without their consent. They are veritable Caesars and work on Caesarian methods. They are absolute monarchists. Within the circle of their power whoever does not look well in their eyes is decapitated, and their censorship is swift, inexorable, and beyond appeal.”
Such is largely the moral complexion of existing labor organization. It is the recoil of existing capitalistic despotism. It is absolutism confronting absolutism. It is the reflex development of force in the hands of labor, steadily growing into a giant which is destined sometime to charge upon Capital and grind it to powder. Yet in principle it is no better than its now master. It is the inverted equation of force. It is a no less hateful enemy of Liberty than its rival, and carries far less brains and sense of equity. Were I to take my chances for mercy, I would far sooner commit them to the keeping of the average capitalist than to ignorant fellows who, having twenty thousand organized men behind them, strut and swagger through the streets and in the offices of labor publications, taking the measure of those whom they are powerful enough to sit down upon.
Of course, I see how all this is natural and necessary as primary education in labor reform. Yet to him who thinks with his eyes towards Liberty it has no meaning, except as the initiatory grinding process which is to prepare the way for getting at the root evil of all societary inequity. To deprive the capitalist of the means of first setting the example of absolute force, which labor is now zealously copying, is the only rational purpose now before the eyes of men. The exposition of that purpose is found alone with the Anarchists. They alone are moving for the abolition of the State, through which the power to exercise force on the part of Capital is only made possible. When this tap-root of absolutism can be intelligently understood by labor, there will be found no warrant for force, but simply a refusal to supply the means of force to the original aggressor.
How simple is the only effectual method of bringing Capital at bay, if reformers had only the courage to face it! It would cost no bloodshed. It would turn the eyes of the oppressed peaceward and Libertyward, and its effectiveness would be almost magical. But while labor organization drifts into despotism, even more absolute and irresponsible than that of its enemy, reformers will probably still hug their idols till they begin to get disgusted with themselves in an aimless and endless battle, in which the only source of ammunition for Capital resides in Labor, and where all necessity for battle ceases when Labor simply refuses to supply it.
Edgeworth on Proudhon.
Having put them off till the last moment, my comments on Edgeworth’s article on another page must be brief and abrupt.
“Mr. Tucker’s thoughts were running upon the cost of the use of currency, which incidentally facilitates the use of capital, but is not the same thing.”
Not so. I was stating Proudhon’s idea, which is as much opposed to payment for the use of capital as for the use of currency. He never tired of exploding what he called “the fiction of the productivity of capital,” and of showing that interest, rent, and profits must fall together, or very nearly together. And his definition of capital, given in his controversy with Bastiat, is inclusive of currency. Edgeworth will know these things for himself when he has read all of Proudhon’s works instead of one or two of them.
“I consider capital as the property of labor.”
So do I, rightfully; and, when it has become so actually, labor will waste no time in paying itself for the use of what is its own.
“I deprecate a hostile and provocative tone towards capital,” but “there are certain abusers of capital and other privileges for whom I would gladly translate the sic iter ad astra in a practical fashion.”
The Jay Goulds, I presume. Well, they are no more abusers of privilege than the working-girl who puts her money in the savings bank to get interest on it. They simply succeed better in availing themselves of privilege. The privilege itself is the abuse. Toward that a hostile tone, whether provocative or not, is not only justifiable, but the only tone consistent with the fundamental principle of the new political economy.
“Ethical rent is the claim of a proprietor whose judicious labor has multiplied a thousand fold the yield of the soil and added as much more in buildings, etc. This is, however, an exhaustible value, which may be appraised and liquidated.”
The liquidation of this value, whether immediate or gradual, is a sale, and brings a right of ownership, which it is not in the nature of rent to do. To call this rent is inaccurate. Rent is payment for use, and brings no title to the man who pays it.
“Earnestness in view of success for mundane objects makes policy the principle of principles.”
True; but it is just as true that the same earnestness makes principle the policy of policies.
“In the revolutionary assembly Proudhon was in presence of his peers, and, in calling property pet names, he only showed his love for a darling child.”
Proudhon called property pet names, not only in the revolutionary assembly, but in his books. The announcement that “la propriety c’est le vol” was first made to the people. And, distinguishing, as he did, property from possession, and making the former synonymous with usury, he meant all that he said when he declared that property was robbery, and he pronounced it such in no spirit of playful tenderness, but with as unrelenting sternness as a man ever brought to the performance of a high duty. It is true that he sometimes accommodated himself to the ordinary phraseology, but it was always evident what he meant.
“Proudhon did not conceive that the way to abate rent and interest was to blame and denounce them.”
This depended upon his mood, which was not always the same.
“Nor did he rely on governmental force or legislation against them.”
Certainly he did not, and I hope that Edgeworth does not suppose, that I do.
“Proudhon, whose evolution from Democrat to Anarchist was gradual.”
He declared himself an Anarchist in his first important work, and gave a clear statement of his meaning.
“Fairly to divide future earnings ought not to carry the idea of fostering indolent privilege as in the past, but only that the products of past labor, unconsumed, and fecundating present labor, shall receive an award proportional to their usefulness.”
Past labor receives its award when it sells its products, whether it sells them outright or by instalments. It is not entitled to receive its award and retain its products, as it would do if it exacted rent. And the price that it gets for its products should not be proportional to future earnings. The inventors, makers, and users of tools are entitled only to payment for their labor, measured by other labor equally difficult and exhausting. The benefits of such tools should belong to them in no special sense, but only as members of the great body of consumers. And this will be the case when competition is absolutely free.
“Proudhon would be in contravention with the Anarchist principle, if he laid down rules in advance that capital should receive this, that, or nothing.”
It would be in contravention with the Anarchist principle to reënact the laws of mathematics, but it is wise, nevertheless, to study them and try to act in accordance with them. Proudhon did not say arbitrarily what capital shall receive, but only what it ought to receive in equity and what it would receive under free and natural conditions. He spoke as a scientist, not as a law-giver.
I believe that nearly everything else in Edgeworth’s article commands, as usual, my warm admiration.
In Behalf of the Press.
From the height of her two centuries in advance of us “Josephine” lately sent back some words of withering scorn and contempt concerning the newspapers of today. They were all the more withering because they were true, every one. The more intimately one is connected with the inner life of newspaperdom, the more completely must he acknowledge their truth. And yet it seems to me that something more than scorn and contempt is their due. My own knowledge of their making and connection with their inner workings have taught me to temper my abhorrence with gratitude that they are no worse than they are, when such possibilities of evil influence are before them, and with gladness that they so often can and do work much for righteousness.
I know and admit all the points — the long lines, rather — wherein the press falls far short of exercising a possible great and glorious influence in opening people’s eyes to the infamies they call justice; I know and admit all the iniquities of the press,— its partisanisms, its stupidity, its venality, and all the thousand other things of which it is guilty. But knowing and admitting them all, I might still say that I am persuaded it is one of the most active and most effective agencies in pushing people ahead toward a better state of things. I do not wonder at all that it does so little. But I do marvel greatly that it does so much. Every day I am surprised to find editorial utterances, opinions in head lines, or morals half pointed in the way of telling a piece of news, which are valuable Anarchistic seed. The newspapers work much against the progress of ideas, I know, but connected with so many of them are people who disbelieve in the present order of things, people who are hunting after something better, people who are convinced that progress can be only in the direction which Anarchists wish to travel, and who all seize every opportunity to speak a word or throw a hint in behalf of Liberty. And I hold that the newspaper man who has written a dozen editorial articles in defence of a political party or in recognition of the rightfulness of existing systems and who then writes a dozen lines that point toward the ways of Liberty is entitled, not only to the forgiveness of Anarchists, but to their gratitude, and merits from every one of them a “well done” and a hearty hand-shake. He has done more good for the cause of Anarchy than if the whole dozen articles had been in its behalf. People would not have read the articles, and they will read the dozen lines, or, if they were willing to read the former, they would mostly be roused to opposition by them, while by the other, so short and apparently so harmless, they are insensibly influenced. It is a little seed in a little crack in a big rocK, but some day it will split the rock in two.
The little things which these people are constantly tossing into the papers are doing most effective work for Anarchy. They go everywhere among the people, they are sure to be read, and they do not spoil their own usefulness by attracting attention and arousing suspicion. They are the little leaven which is leavening the whole lump. Wherefore I say that the people who are doing these things deserve credit and thanks, and the papers which serve as their medium merit something other than contempt.
Insult Added to Injury.
The Boston “Transcript” commends the Springfield “Union” for saying: “Francis Murphy told the Pittsburg strikers the other day that, if they must strike, it should be against strong drink and bad company. There is truth in that, which would cure nine-tenths of the labor troubles.”
Listen to that, you drudges of the world! You are robbed of the larger portion of the wealth your toil produces, and then the robbers and their apologists calmly tell you that you are poor because you drink whiskey instead of champagne and do not select college professors for your associates. Of course it would be better for you to let strong drink alone, and no doubt some of your associations are of little use to you, but to say that nine-tenths of the labor troubles are caused by drunken workers is to lie damnably and insolently. Nothing less than justice will cure labor troubles. The only evil of strikes is their frequent failure to secure any fairer treatment for the strikers.
Eighteen men and women who had been punished once for all the crimes they had ever been convicted of committing, and against whom there was no shred of evidence of having committed any new crime or of harboring any intention of commuting any new crime, were taken into custody by the New York police on Thursday, August 6, on no pretext whatever save that these persons had the reputation of being professional pickpockets and that it was the part of prudence to keep such characters in jail until after the Grant obsequies, when they might be arraigned in court and discharged for want of evidence against them. That is to say, eighteen persons, presumably innocent in the eye of the law, had to be deprived of their liberty and kept in dungeons for four days, in order that some hundreds of thousands of people, half of them numskulls and the other half hypocrites, might not be obliged to keep their hands on their pocket-books while they shed crocodile tears at the grave of one of the foremost abettors of theft and plunder which this century has produced. And the upholders of governments continue to prate of the insecurity that would prevail without them, and to boast of the maxim, while thus violating it, that “it is better that ninety-nine guilty men should escape than that one innocent man should suiter.”
The Only Thing We Haven’t Plenty Of.
[Galveston Daily News.]
After reading the dismal philosophy of Rev. Thomas Malthus, a person might excuse the fellow that fired his pistol at a row of dynamite cartridges on the mantelpiece, just for fun. Three or four persons killed; eight wounded. Malthus could not see thus far ahead, or he would have put railroad accidents, elevators, and fooling with pistols in place of his categories of war, famine, etc., as methods of reducing the alleged surplus population. Talking about a surplus, let’s see. This country has a surplus of grain, a surplus of cotton, a surplus of manufactured goods, a surplus of money in the treasury, and a surplus of hungry and shivering people. It seems as if there were too many surpluses, but no surplus wisdom to bring them all together.
What Political Economy Tells Us.
The part of political economy that does not deal with conditions depending upon particular governmental arrangements and authority is the part that counts for least in the usual discussions in the books. Political economy adapts itself to any condition. It tolls how the produce is divided and consumed and capital accumulated under slavery. As soon as slavery is abolished, that base is gone, and it tells then how things work under alleged competition, with labor perhaps in the preposterous attitude, while selling itself, of being homeless, kept so by statute and by its own faith and assistance in the policy expressed in the statute. It does not prove that these things are right.
Examples From Above.
[Rochefort in L’Intransigeant.]
After the exposure of London in all its baseness and the startling commotion produced by the “Pall Mall Gazette’s” revelations, we ask ourselves how a people could be stupid enough not to make haste to seize the first opportunity that might present itself to get rid of the monarchy.
This time it cannot he said that the scandal comes from the lower ranks. Is it in the homes of the laborers, the Colectivists, the Anarchists, or the Communists that children of eight years are violated with the refinements of lechery of which we gave our readers yesterday a mild sketch? Is it from the governed or the governing classes that come these examples of ignominy? And when we spit upon this society which oscillates continually between the larder and the bawdy-house, they condemn us to punishments of the most corporal and degrading character!
There is no denying it: these lords, these clergymen, these princes of the blood, whom an honest journal has at last had the courage to nail to the pillory, are the very strata on which rest the whole existing social order made up of religion, morality, and the family.
They are, indeed, fine to see and fit to imitate,— these barons who look down upon the vile populace from the height of their privileges! Varlin, who was assassinated by the Versaillese for having shown himself insufficiency convinced of the virtues of the Prince of Wales, wrote this sentence, which was destined to become the rule of humanity:
“No duties without rights; no rights without duties.”
Now, we easily see the rights of monarchies represented hy the presumptive heirs of both sexes; but where are their duties? When the sweat of a nation is called upon to pay a civil list of thirty millions, there is at least an obligation to return in respectability, if not in genius, the enormous sums thus wrung from it. But who will dare to celebrate the benefits of royalty in presence of this future sovereign of England who begins by violating girls of tender age destined to become his subjects later. Judging by the way in which he understands morality, here is a gentleman in politics in whom the English must feel a singular confidence. The reign of this privileged personage promises us, I must say, sweet surprises. With the money that he shall exact from fathers he will hasten to purchase their daughters.
And notice that, if the Prince of Wales is today on the anxious seat, it is because an independent journal has dared to throw his disgrace publicly in his face. But among the sovereigns in expectation now seated on the steps of European thrones, do you believe there is a single one whose shame would send a shiver through his courtiers if it likewise were brought to light?
Wherever there is power, there is abuse. That which would send an ordinary citizen to prison is regarded in a monarch, in his son, or in his relatives, as a mark of temperament or generosity in the blood; and the poor man wears himself out to provide these swine, for whom a pig-sty would be a more than sufficient dwelling, palaces with fifty-window fronts and mistresses—under ten years.
We cannot tell when the old Victoria, the same who allowed an unfortunate servant to hang because she had killed her master who had taken her by force, will go to rejoin in the grave the John Brown whom she lost last year; but when her noble son shall have been crowned, we shall see queer things on the other side of the Channel.
The chances are that among the petitions which, his subjects will address to the new sovereign will be found some bearing these words:
“I beg Your Majesty to remember that I am one of the eight-year-old children whom you once violated at the house of an East End procuress.”
Inasmuch, moreover, as, independently of these little manias that characterize the man of the world, he is drunk seventeen hours out of the twenty-four, and has the reputation, in all the club-houses of France and England, of cheating at the gaming-table, we cannot too strongly recommend the British nation to take him for a master without any hesitation. To install such a rake upon the throne would lie to give the Republic the most marvellous puff that it could ever hope for.
Then and Now.
Happiness and Misery.
Boston, August 15, 2085.
My Dear Louise:
For the past two weeks Mr. De Demain and I have been comparing notes on the character of the people of two hundred years ago and that of the people of today, and I will give you his summing-up of his side of the case:
“Whether the people of today are more virtuous, more generous, more honesty more sympathetic is a secondary consideration. The main question is: Are they more happy? Without groping about in the semi-darkness that dims the past and trying to discover how man came to be an inhabitant of the earth; without calling upon metaphysics to tell us why he is here and what is his destiny; without even asking our own individual consciousness whether there be another existence after that which seems like death has made our body dead,— we may use our individual experiences in solving, individually, what is known as the problem of life.
“I say to myself: ‘The world is here, and I am here.’ My senses and reason combined lead me to believe that certain things have happened, that certain things are happening, and that certain things will happen. The latter is always problematical. I am not sure that certain things will happen. Past experiences, either of myself or others, make it probable that they will happen. Whether there be a reason or be no reason why I am here I care not; my sole object, so far as I consciously control myself, is happiness. There can be no nobler object in life than happiness. That may or may not be what we are here for, but a man who, when dying, can look back over the years, months, and days of his existence and say he has been happy has not lived for nothing. His transitory stay upon the globe has added something to the sum of all things,— that something his individual happiness. He has answered the question: ‘Is life worth living?’ Even if death be the end of existence, it is better to have lived and been happy even for a few years than not to have lived at all.
“The problem of life, then, is how to be happy, or, how to be most happy and least miserable. In order to be happy, we cannot close our eyes and stalk forth through time. The more closely man observes the world, the less he believes that it was created especially for his benefit. I think that most human individuals believe today that the world was no more made for man than man for silk hats. Man must conform himself to the world as the hat must conform to man’s head. Man must watch nature within himself and outside of himself. He must follow nature where he cannot overcome nature to advantage. He must study the future in order to be happy. Happiness depends more upon tomorrow than upon today. To know what is to be tomorrow is to be happy. Look carefully at the circumstances that surround you; then strive to find wnat will be their result. If you have good reason to believe that the result will not bring you happiness, try to change the circumstances. If you cannot change them, conform yourself to them. Either put the things with which you must come in contact in harmony with yourself, or put yourself in harmony with them. In order to be happy you must do one or the other. Compromise. Don’t lay out a path through the future and rush along it, never mind what obstacles intervene. You are liable to run your head against rocks and trees, to get stuck in the mud or fall over a ledge. Lay out your path as you go along. Go slow, unless your way is clear. When you come to a rock or a ditch, stop and calculate whether it be better to climb over or go around. Before you do anything, do not ask yourself: Is this right? Is this honest? Is this virtuous? Right, honesty, virtue mean nothing except as they are interpreted by the individual. What leads to happiness is right, is honest, is virtuous; what leads to misery is wrong, is dishonest, is not virtuous.
“The road to happiness is not straight, and its outlines are often dim. I was once asked by a student in college if I could think of any additional sense that it would be of advantage for man to possess and that might reasonably exist. I answered that a sense which could look into the future would be reasonable and of greater service to man than either hearing or smell. If man could see into tomorrow, there would be little misery in the world. The future is a problem the solution of which can only be approximated by the shrewdest minds, the closest observers, and deepest thinkers. Such men should be most happy, and such men are usually most happy.
“We consider Anarchy the best social condition under which men can live and procure the greatest amount of happiness with the least amount of misery. This is why we think Anarchy better than the State. You must, I think, acknowledge that I have convinced you that the people are at least much more happy today than they were two centuries ago. This is all we claim for Anarchy,— that it is the greatest promoter of happiness that has yet been conceived.”
I am not quite willing yet to acknowledge that I believe the people of today more happy than they were in the good old times that I remember. The common people are more happy today, but the upper classes,— I keep constantly forgetting that there are no upper classes,— the people of superior intellect who should form an upper class,— are no happier, or I do not see how they can be more happy, than they were when I was one of them.
Anarchist Etiquette of Repartition.
“Proudhon’s idea — and it is the correct one — of a fair division between Capital and Labor was that Labor should have all and Capital nothing.”
Mr. Tucker also admits that “Proudhon provided a reduced share for Capital during a transitional period.”
This admission reminds me of Proudhon’s words, “Banque du Peuple,” page 280 of “Solutions Sociales,” viz.: “By the principle of its institution, which is credit gratis, the People’s Bank, replacing progressively the guarantee of cash by that which results from the reciprocal acceptance of its paper as agreed upon by all contractors, may and ought to effect discounts and give credits at rates of interest gradually less and less.
“Provisorily, this interest, commission included, is fixed at two per cent, per annum. It will fall lower with the progress of the Society, and in no case should the commission for discount exceed one-fourth of one per cent.”
If I am correct then, Mr. Tucker’s thoughts were running upon the cost of the use of currency, which incidentally facilitates the use of capital, but is not the same thing; for capital may dispense with currency, and so can labor; but neither labor nor capital can dispense with each other. Capital is the “plant” in soil, tools, machinery, and goods consumable, which facilitates the operations of labor.
Mr. Tucker, in his zeal against actual extortions, has perhaps lost sight of the distinction between capital and the capitalist living by the suction of interest. But I consider capital as the property of labor and the condition of its greater productive energy. And, in the meanwhile, I deprecate a hostile and provocative tone towards capital, which must disincline it toward practical conciliation with labor in their common interest and that of society in all its aspects. There are certain abusers of capital and other privileges for whom I would gladly translate the sic iter ad astra in a practical fashion, but regarding personal and corporative property as essentials of social well-being, and their inequality, within pretty wide limits, as a necessary consequence of the differences in our ambitions, and the inequality of our faculties, I would save property from the destructive collision of that class war into which the infatuation of the absolute in justice is driving us. Absolute right is the counterfeit presentment of God and the King, no less dangerous for enjoying the privilege of Gyges’s ring, like its divine predecessor. I signalize his Invisibility to the suspicion of all true Anarchists. In “Lucifer” and the “Labor Enquirer,” I have advocated the relative justice of rent, interest, and profits, within modest limits, in behalf of past labor and its personal identity with capital.
Legal rent is claimed by an absentee landlord who never struck a lick with axe or spade, on whose behalf the black-gowned raven, battening on the corpses of the conquered Celt or Saxon, consecrates their spoil to his ancestral line of robbers. Ethical rent is the claim of a proprietor whose judicious labor has multiplied a thousand fold the yield of the soil and added as much more in buildings, etc. This is, however, an exhaustible value, which may be appraised and liquidated. Let us not confound ideas of simple justice, which may prove to be only simplistic ideas of justice, onesided and fallacious, with practical policy. Because I want to reach the top of a mountain is no reason for trying to climb perpendicular rocks in a bee line thither. Neither Proudhon nor we have the kindness of a fellow-feeling for the big dog in the manger, but we are not puritanic abstractionists who pelt institutions with adjectives, and do not consider it proper to explode property in order for Labor to pick up some scraps of it.
So long as we are insignificant in numbers and resources, we may ring the Alarm bell as much as we please; but were we in a position to compel attention, and to treat diplomatically as ambassadors of Labor at the Court of Capital,— the United States Senate, for example,— should we summon it to an unconditional surrender.*
To pit principle against policy, and imagine that sincerity requires us to disregard policy, will do for Christian martyrs, because they speculated in celestial insurance policies. Their conduct was conformable to their fantastic theory of destinies. But earnestness in view of success for mundane objects makes policy the principle of principles.
It may occur to you that Proudhon was once an ambassador of Labor before the French government, and that he was minding something better than his p’s and q’s, when he said: “La propriété c’est le vol.” It may also be admitted that Liberty’s charms are not precisely those of the suaviter in modo, and that to be the pink of propriety is not the height of her ambition.
I answer that, in the revolutionary assembly, Proudhon was in presence of his peers, and that, in calling property pet names, he only showed his love for a darling child. “You little rascal!” is an idiom of tenderness. You know, besides, that in signalizing the improprieties of property, Proudhon was simply preluding to its proprieties. The pruning knife is not the enemy of the vine. The disastrous effects of rent and interest as we experience them on society preoccupied Proudhon, but he did not conceive that the way to abate them was to blame and denounce them, nor did he rely on governmental force or legislation against them. He aimed at a combination among proprietors and other citizens which should present to creditors eligible terms of release from debts and mortgages.
Risk being the chief consideration in defence of high rents and interests, as shown by the investments of capital in the stocks of stable governments at low rates of interest, risk must be reduced to a minimum as an inducement for a change of investments from individual obligations to those of a substitutive banking firm paying lower rates of interest.
Proudhon, whose evolution from Democrat to Anarchist was gradual, as a representative of the People, sought at first in 1848 to complete the political by the economic revolution, of which the Exchange Bank would he the pivot. While engrafting it upon the actual Banque de France, he wanted a decree by legislation to the purport that debts and mortgages should be legally cancelled, whenever, beginning after date of the new law, their principal should be covered by successive instalments, such as had been previously reckoned legitimate interest, thus tending to constitute debt a perpetual bondage, levying tribute by prejudice from labor for idleness.
Truly as it may be averred that most property is plunder, in Proudhon’s pet paradox, facts are petrifactions. Only by slow detrition are they prepared to nourish, like the lava of Vesuvius, the roots of a new growth. The ethical sentiment must recognize its own limitations in Nature and humanity, and be content to train upon the old wall the young vine, tendency. Fairly to divide future earnings ought not to carry the idea of fostering indolent privilege as in the past, but only that the products of past labor, unconsumed, and fecundating present labor, shall receive an award proportional to their usefulness. By cooperating with others the inventor or owner of a machine may obtain great advantages from it, which others, sharing, will hardly begrudge to him. Moreover, cooperative property, interesting many by dividends, is safer both from accidental and malicious destruction than the same capital would be if operating by hired labor. The same consideration XXXes economies in wear and tear, and the cost of repairs is divided. In all cases the proportional profits or losses of the proprietor being subject to free contract, whatever bias Proudhon might reveal, if acting as an umpire, he would be in contravention with the Anarchistic principle, if he laid down rules in advance that capital should receive this, that, or nothing. Proudhon, lingering in the arms of democracy, in the illusory faith of la révolution en permanence, expecting from the throes of the political mountain in labor some other fruition than the social mouse, sang the hymn, “Man never is, but always to be blest,” in chorus with republican patriots. Louis Blanc, a Robespierre without guile, aspired to be paternal providence for labor, while Lamartine wedded the sentiment of property with La Republique. These were not routine politicians, rather philanthropists. Might they not be plastic to the conception of economic emancipation from the despotic authority of gold? No, they turned a deaf ear to financial reforms; they left the people as they found them, in the bondage of debt. The ambition of ruling only multiplied itself in would-be rulers. Liberty, indeed, commits suicide by representation, butt Government takes good care not to abdicate. It will wait, like a hog for its throat to be cut, and meanwhile squeal lustily.
The most conservative champion of privilege, with his eyes open to its actual perils, cannot prudently claim for it now so much as Proudhon allowed by the liquidation of all standing debts and mortgages. He is not Communist enough for the State Socialists, and it is simply carrying grits to their mill for his own friends to call such allowances to “vested rights” as the precited, “giving Labor all and Capital nothing”! Judging the matter ethically, I find such concessions to capital exorbitant for the numerous cases in which debts will have been already liquidated, and that several times over, by payments of rents and interests, and I am sure Proudhon felt as we do about it. His concessions are made from calculations of policy. Such calculations, varying with circumstances, account for the different estimates of interest in his several banking projects. His first conception, which was a modification of the Bank of France under governmental auspices, allowed three per cent. interest for it and its branches, and four per cent. for other banks called free. State Socialists and the paradoxical Communist-Anarchists, whose real drift is also to State Socialism, take an attitude hostile or antipathic to capitalists. Proudhon is homeopathic to them; that is the difference between expropriation and liquidation. Practical conciliation of interests between the actual and the potential, between legal possession and ethical right, is the aim of the Exchange and Real Estate Bank in eliminating debts and mortgages by absorbent substitution of acceptable and current values. Proudhon’s conception of banking has for its essential principle the generalization of the bill of exchange. It embraces the interests of labor, both productive and distributive, by credit notes, the exchange ot which constitutes a premium on appreciated skill and probity. Like the Township Counting House (Comptoir Communal Actionnaire) sketched by Fourier, Proudhon’s Bank receives deposits of produce, advances part payments on them, holds them to the depositor’s credit for a specified time, at the expiration of which, if the advance has not been returned with commission fees, it sells the goods at auction, and after reimbursing itself, turns over any balance to the original owner. They have one negative feature, viz., no intermediary ownership of goods, consequently no speculation and no “profits,” beyond the salary of officers; to the infinite disgust of the Dog in the manger. Such a Bank of Exchange, as common organ of Trades Unions and Granges, might become, like the syndicate of old Barcelona, a power that could treat on equal terms with national governments. Its substitutions would be acceptable, because of the gain in security by its popular constitution. Capital has a more delicate nose than the emperor Vespasian. High rents and interests have come to smell too strong of gunpowder and dynamite. If Proudhon’s plan commends itself by averting the explosion of class hatreds and disarms the proletariat, like the sunbeam in its contest with the wind, in the fable, for the traveller’s cloak, it must make concessions to habits and to circumstances.
In France, 1848-51, Proudhon conceived that a three per cent, interest would cover risks and costs, but whatever the first cost of establishment, it cannot equal that of the class war whose conflicts it conciliates and which, after destruction of property, can leave us peace only under some form of governmental despotism. Cheaper a sop to the capitalist dog in the manger,** the Cerberus of privilege, than victory adorned with the tails of the Kilkenny cats.
Ordination of privilege is salient with the evolution of the tribes of prey. The natural artists, nest-builders and song-birds, nearly all are insectivorous. Renaissance art broods under the wing of Lorenzo di Medici. For the ulterior and harmonic evolution of societies, it may be more important that privilege should blossom in the arts than that laborers should never lack a mess of pork and cabbage. The two desiderata are not incompatible. Art, however proficient in execution, aborts in conception, unless fecundated by the social heart. Bloated luxury and skeleton misery lie down together in the grave of sterility.
To assigning all profits to Labor, in a healthy social organism, we virtually endow capital in the laborer.
Luxury, sulking in its palatial gums, will find sucking of its paws rather insipid diet in the second generation. Though its actual currency of specie and greenbacks be demonetized by that of the Exchange Bank, the property rescued from destruction by this mediator may indeed feed it in idleness much longer; but personal service, being no longer under pressure of necessity, may fight shy of F. F. V.s, W. Y.s, etc., or teach them new kinks in the line of behavior.
No levelling downward is meant, no abatement of privilege in principle; only a certain transposition of its factors and exponents, of which our old friend Jesus (We who speak am Lazarus) had an inkling.
To flatten out privilege is an idea that could only occur to a flat-footed cockney. The gardener and the stock-breeder know better. Their whole lives are spent either in selecting from the wild, Nature’s privileged minions, or in baffling her notions of the fittest to survive in favor of some favorite of their own. Their Art is but Nature, beginning with the privileged orders of the cabbage and the pig. After a while, we reach the Rose and Tulip, then the stately Camelia. So Labor climbs hand over hand into the fine arts, entering the ideal through the gate of practice.
Persons make, and social classes ratify, the present distinctions between Labor and other Capital; but Labor reinstated in its natural domain of elemental forces, Labor reinvested with its homestead, wielding the trident of Neptune and the thunderbolt of Jove, Labor cutting stones with sunbeams, Labor perched upon the driver’s seat of the machine whose galling harness it slips off,— Labor will ignore the possibility of a divorce from Capital. They reproduce the Androgyne of Plato.
Labor, Promethean, final conqueror of the Joves, Alexanders, and Goulds, has no need to contract new debts for the pleasure of liquidation. The fluency of its products in the universal and impartial solution of the Exchange Bank forestalls this necessity of misfortune under the despotic royalty of Gold. The results of past effort, fecundating and being fecundated by present effort, either in the same individuals or their heirs, make us all working capitalists.
The Polytechnic Institute with its cohort of working schools, Cornelia with her Gracchi, provides for this social transformation. The genius of practical education tones the manners, while shaping the bent and training the faculties, of childhood. It aims to make, not aristocratic bosses, but intelligent workmen. Now, the nisus of ascending imitation by classes is towards polished uselessness. Blockheads are coated with a varnish of science. The facultative virtue of our thoroughbred workmen must render this ridiculous. Next to demonetizing specie and greenbacks comes the defashionizing of shams.
A spontaneous order of society, from which civilization has been drifting away into the morbid and monstrous, since the old Greek republics (with the exception of one sunny interlude, the Moors of Spain), renders property fluent through more spiritual channels than the best of Banks,— through those of Love, and Friendship. This is a corollary of emancipation, at once from misery and superstition. The family mill-dam of property may become as rare as beaver-dams are now. A great accumulation of capital will carry the idea of apoplectic congestion, and call for charitable enterprises to relieve its possessor of such onerous responsibility. Labor, without Capital, can be but the accident of some cataclysm, until the Earth stops shaking her sides in titanic laughter at the folly of men. Is folly a brook that must flow on forever? All depends on the intelligence of will, or the will of intelligence, segregated from disturbing influences. The condition of spontaneous evolution is the absence of arbitrary intervention, and how can we build while we are fighting authority.
* See note by Mr. B. R. Tucker to page 7 of Liberty, April 25.
** This noble animal now on exhibition at the principal centres of trade, where he is taught to corner grains and pork, and stands guard at ware-houses, is a signal illustration of the concord which reigns between science and religion in modern progress, as compared with Joseph on the box of Pharaoh’s slow coach. The ancients, uninstructed by Political Economy, had the impious idea of thwarting Providence by reserves from the years of abundance for those of famine, and multiplied, heedless as herrings of the scientific checks to population. Christendom, on the contrary, knowing the necessity of poverty to salvation, employs its depots and applies its economic resources for the creation of famine in the midst of abundance. How superior the paternalism of Uncle Sam and John Bull to that of Pharaoh and the Incas! And wwhat a consolation, in the absence of some other liberties, is that of speculation, by the intermediary ownership of goods in commercial monopoly!
Government Getting Frightened.
To the Editor of Liberty:
Today’s “Pioneer Press” contains two news items that should be of especial and significant interest to all who believe that the only effective way to combat monopoly is for the government to take charge of all great manufacturing and transportation enterprises, or, at least, to so license, limit, and direct them that they shall be practically estopped from working in harmony with the natural laws of growth and trade.
The first item is a telegram from Nashville, stating that the “moonshiners” of the middle district of Tennessee are rapidly extending their operations; that the number of illicit distilleries has increased to one hundred with an immediate prospect of four hundred more and, under the impetus of the large corn crop, an increase to one thousand. It is feared that “legitimate trade” will be greatly depressed. Already the agents of Tennessee “moonshiners” are selling whiskey in the North at very low figures. Common sense would say that, so long as men drink whiskey, they had best have an unadulterated and cheap article. But the excessive government tax prevents this, and forces those who drink to pay for the support of a vast army of officials, who succeed only in greatly increasing the price of a much inferior article.
The second item of news is headed “Opposition Postal Service,” and tells us that Postmaster General Vilas has received a Letter from St. Paul informing him that the Northern Pacific is “carrying mails in competition with the United States.” There is a richness of naive confession about this chat induces me to give your readers the benefit of nearly the entire telegram.
The scheme, as described, is certainly not the usual form of competition, for each letter carried by the Northern Pacific carries a United States stamp in addition to that required by the company. Dr. Day states that this enterprise interferes in no way with the revenues of the postoffice, and it really is a convenience to the public, from the fact that the railway company carries its mails on every train, while the United States mail goes on but few; but he reports it, thinking that it is a violation of the law forbidding privat persons from carrying mail in competition with the United States. Attorney General Bryant discover has been se at work to discover if there is any way to stop the practice. Three years ago a similar complaint was raised against Wells, Fargo & Co., who were carrying letters in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico. The United States in some places did not have postal routes, and in others the mails were slow and infrequent.
Postmaster General Key wrote a letter to the postmaster at San Francisco, saying that the department did not wish to issue a peremtpory ofder preventing Wells, Fargo & Co. from competing with the United States, and gave the opinion that the best way to check the trouble was for the postal authorites to undertake to carry the mails in Wells, Fargo & Co.’s field as well, if not better, than they did. The authorities here believe that the railroad company has no right to put up letter boxes throughout the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and it is not improbable that the department will find means in the law to stop the whole matter.
“If there isn’t law to make the Union Pacific stop,” said a prominent official in the depratment tonight, “we shall have to give people along the line better mail service. It is a god deal like the man who held the other fellow down by firmly putting his nose between his teeth and keeping it there; but it is necessary.”
Notice that it is admitted that the revenues of the department are not decreased, that the people are better served, but that, in face of these palpable facts, the various officials are racking their alleged brains to discover a way in which to put a stop to this audacious interference with the special privileges of the great I Am at Washington. If the receipts of the postal department are not lessened, and if the people have better mail facilities than they would have were it not for this private enterprise, why are these dignitaries of the State hunting around for a law to restrain Wells, Fargo & Co. and the Northern Pacific? I will tell you. They see the handwriting on the wall; they fear that, if the fact becomes generally known that a private corporation can make a paying business off letter-carrying in spite of being handicapped with a government tax of two cents upoa each letter, one of these fine days some inquisitive Yankee will rise to inquire whether we should not have a more efficient and a cheaper mail service if we depended entirely on private enterprise, or left competition between the government and the express companies entirely free. Such an inquiry would be dangerous, for it might set a good many people to thinking; and, when the people once get to thinking in real earnest, something may drop,— the official heads of sinecure place-fillers, for example. Better nip this incipient treason of the Northern Pacific in the bud. It is easier to strangle the babe in the cradle than to overcome the strong man in the gladiatorial arena.
From another paper I clip this:
Don Cameron is telling, in a tearful voice, how Professor Bell once offered him a controlling interest in his telephone company for six thousand dollars. Last year the profits of the company were fifteen hundred thousand dollars. The stock has been watered fearfully, but the profits are so enormous that the dividends have to be concealed by continual issues of new stock.
Who are paying these enormous profits to the Bell Company? Ultimately, the laborers and consumers of the country. Why do they have to pay the dividends upon such “fearfully watered” stock? Because the Bell Telephone Company is a government-protected monopoly,— because it has no competition.
E. C. Walker.
Ortonville, Minn., July 17, 1885.
Write This One on a Table of Gold.
[Osage County Democrat.]
What is needed for the good of society more than anything else is an amendment to the “ten commandments,”— an eleventh commandment something like this: “Thou shalt, under no circumstances, meddle with the affairs of thy neighbor, but attend strictly to thine own legitimate business.” The general observance of such a rule of conduct would soon rid the world of dead-beats and blood-suckers, and the necessity of so much government, the present great afflictions of mankind.
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.