“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.
Here is a striking instance of the inconsistency into which the advocates of so-called communistic Anarchy are sure to fail. The following fundamental truth and antipodal falsehood I take from the editorial columns of one issue of the Chicago “Alarm.” Truth: “The basis of all liberty is the self-possession of the fruits of one’s personal efforts.” Falsehood: “We know that there is and can be no other remedy but to turn all things into common property, and let all partake of the abundance freely, and allow none, under the penalty of death, to carry off, or hide, or pen up, any of that abundance for any selfish motive whatever.”
The Czar has caused one thousand students to be expelled from the University of Kieff for holding Nihilistic views, and has drafted them into the army to cure them. Compared with the brilliancy of the intellect which proposes to extinguish Nihilism by leavening the army with it, the sun itself is a will-o’-the-wisp haunting a moon-gilded morass of stupidity. If the Czar should detect a man tearing shingles off his roof, he would punish him for his mischief by patting a can of dynamite in his hand and sending him down cellar. I hope he will draft into the army and supply with efficient weapons every enemy to his authority he can find in Russia.
Another Anarchistic journal in the field,— “The Miners’ Journal,” edited by John McLaughlin, and published in Scammonville, Kansas. This being, so far as I call to mind, the first instance of a paper published in the interest of a special class of workers and pointing them to complete Liberty as their only hope, is a very notable sign of the times. Such class journals, heretofore, have either neglected the social question or taken the authoritarian side of it. The editor’s two articles in the issue of October 18, “The Campaign of Politics” and “The Campaign of Labor,” are alone worth the dollar that it costs to subscribe for the paper one year.
Says an exchange: “It appears from a correspondent of the Newark ‘Daily Advertiser’ that there is an Agnostic town, New Ulra, in Minnesota; and the Agnostics there in some particulars are a shining example to Christians. Here is a town of thirty-five hundred population, and with but a Marshal to keep the peace; and yet there has not been a street fight in New Ulm in fifteen years. Mr. J. C. Rudolph, one of the shining lights there, says that occasionally a young fellow from the country comes to town and takes more beer than he ought; but one of the old inhabitants will go to him and tell him that New Ulm wants no noise in the streets. And, added Mr. Rudolph, one of our citizens, looking squarely in the man’s face, generally brings him to his senses. The people of the city and country are kept in their senses in a city that has four breweries and thirty beer saloons, without powder and shot and iron bars. The Agnostics, too, set a good example in the charities.” I doubt if Agnosticism alone is entitled to the credit of the New Ulmites’ orderliness. These Agnostics, perhaps without knowing it, seem to be Anarchists as well.
The Marquis of Waterford, an extensive landowner in Ireland, has thrown up his estate and left the country because those pestering peasants whom he has rack-rented would not let him and his hangers-on hunt in peace. That’s right. Turn the rascals out!
- Heywood, of Princeton, Massachusetts, takes up the work which the Liberal League has dropped, and is circulating a petition to Congress for the repeal of the Comstock laws. His is a good enough petition for the petitioners; as for me, I am not petitioning this year.
The popular hatred of the Czar in Russia has now become so intense that the police have had to prohibit the exhibition of his portrait in hotels and other public places to prevent it from being insulted by the people. A singularly Dear Father must be this Alexander III, whose very image is enough to excite his children’s wrath! Between such a monarch and his downfall stands there any obstacle more insuperable than time?
- Walker, the junior editor of “Lucifer,” who by the rare consistency of his radicalism has done so much to liberalize the West, will re-enter the lecture and canvassing field the middle of this month, and is ready to answer calls to speak upon Freethought, Anarchy, and kindred subjects. Those wishing to avail themselves of the services of this untiring worker should address “E. C. Walker, Box 42, Valley Falls, Kansas.”
The “Truth-Seeker” remarks — as if it titled the matter — that, outside of the Christian press, the opposition to the Liberal League is narrowed down to a free religious paper, a free love paper, and a free property paper, meaning, I take it, the “Index,” the “Word,” and “Lucifer.” It is not the first time that extremes have met in a good cause. Liberty would make this trio a quartette, had she leisure for such gentle and amusing sport.
Liberty herewith tenders her respectful congratulations to such of her friends and subscribers as have succumbed during the last few months to the political temptation and been at work for the cause of labor and the people (with a big, big P) under the leadership of General Butler. How they have advanced things, to be sure! Where General Weaver, the Greenback-Labor candidate of four years ago, with scarcely any money to conduct his canvass, got a vote of over three hundred thousand, General Butler, the Greenback-Labor candidate of today, after the expenditure of more money and work than was ever pit into a labor canvass before, gets scarcely one hundred thousand votes in the whole country, and one-fourth of these in the single state of Massachusetts. But have not my semi-Anarchistic friends “done something practical”? Have they not “stood up to be counted”? Have they not for three months past been seen of all men, with tiny flags pinned to their breasts and tiny spoons tucked in their buttonholes? Have they, too, not had a candidate travelling in a palace-car with the best of them? And have they, too, not met the fate of all political dupes, and been sold out by their leader at the last moment? Will they ever learn from experience? Or will they four years hence show themselves as green as ever, and repeat their folly with the same enthusiasm and the same results?
Song of the Workers.
[Translated from the French of Pierre Dupont by John Oxenford.]
We whose dim lamp, the dawning day,
Is lit when cocks begin to crow,
We who for our uncertain pay
Must early to our anvils go;
We who with hand and foot and arm
With want a war incessant wage,
And nought can ever gain to warm
The dreary winter of old age —
We’ll still be friends, and when we can
We’ll meet to push the wine about:
Let guns be still or make a rout,
Our toast: the Liberty of Man!
From jealous waves, from niggard soils,
Our arma for ever toiling tear
A mighty store of hidden spoils,
Ay, all that man can eat or wear:
From plains their corn, from hills their fruit,
Their metals, pearls, and jewels fine;
Alas! poor sheep, a costly suit
Is woven from that wool of thine.
We’ll still be, etc.
What from the labor do we get
For which our becks thus bent must be?
And wherefore flow our floods of sweat?
Machines and nothing more are we.
Our Babel-towers the skies invade,
The earth with marvels we array;
But when at last the honey’s made.
The master drives the bees away.
We’ll still be, etc.
Our wives for pay their milk bestow
On scions of a puny race,
Who think, when they to manhood grew,
To sit beside them were disgrace.
The landlord’s claim we know full well,
It presses on us like a vice;
Our daughters must their honor sell
At every counter-jumper’s price.
We’ll still be, etc.
In darksome holes, in garrets foul,
In ruined shells, with rag* bodight,
We live — the comrades of the owl
And thief, the constant friends of night.
Still through our hearts hot blood-beats run,
Still through our veins live currents flow,
And we could love the glorious sun.
And that deep shade the oak trees throw.
We’ll still be, etc.
But every time our good red blood
Is on the earth like water poured,
The fruit that’s nurtured by the flood
Serves but to feed some tyrant lord.
Let not the stream so rashly flow,
War doth not equal love in worth,
But wait till kinder breezes blow
From heaven — or s’en perchance from earth.
We’ll still be friends, and when we can
We’ll meet to push the wine about:
Let guns be still or make a rent.
Our toast: the Liberty of Man!
Justified through Liberty.
To the Editor of Liberty:
I send you one dollar to continue “Liberty.” Some years ago I became thoroughly disgusted with politics and have not recorded my vote since. Still I was ill at ease. I had here educated in the belief that it was a solemn duty I was neglecting. I have received my justification through “Liberty.” I now feel it my duty to abstain. I may say, when I began to mistrust the efficacy of Christianity, I began to doubt that of politics. I now believe that civilisation will ultimately do away with both.
Yours for right and justies,
Buffalo, September 10, 1884.
A Vindication of Natural Society:
A View of the Miseries and Evils Arising to Mankind from Every Species of Artificial Society, in a Letter to Lord —————.
By Edmund Burke
Continued from No. 53.
On considering political societies, their origin, their constitution, and their effects, I have sometimes been in a good deal more than doubt whether the Creator did ever really intend man for a state of happiness. He has mixed in his cup a number of natural evils (in spite of the boasts of stoicism they are evils), and even endeavor which the art and policy of mankind has used from the beginning of the world to this day, in order to alleviate or cure them, has only served to introduce new mischiefs, or to aggravate and inflame the old. Besides this, the mind of man itself is too active and restless a principle ever to settle on the true point of qaiet. It discovers every day some craving want in a body, which really wants but little. It every day invents some new artificial rule to guide that nature which, if left to itself, were the best and surest guide. It finds out imaginary beings prescribing imaginary laws; and then it raises imaginary terrors to support a belief in the beings, and an obedience to the laws. Many things have been said, and very well, undoubtedly, on the subjection in which we should preserve our bodies to the government of our understanding; but enough has not been said upon the restraint which our bodily necessities ought to lay on the extravagant sublimities and eccentric rovings of our minds. The body, or, as some love to call it, our inferior nature, is wiser in its own plain way, and attends its own business more directly, than the mind with all its boasted subtility.
In the state of nature, without question, mankind was subjected to many and great inconveniences. Want of union, want of mutual assistance, want of a common arbitrator to resort to in their differences. These were evils which they could not but have felt pretty severely on many occasions. The original children of the earth lived with their brethren of the other kinds in much equality. Their diet must have been confined almost wholly to the vegetable kind; and the same tree, which in its nourishing state produced them berries, in its decay gave them an habitation. The mutual desire of the sexes uniting their bodies and affections, and the children which are the result of these intercourses, introduced first the notion of society, and taught its conveniences. This society, founded in natural appetites and instincts, and not in any positive institution, I shall call natural society. Thus far nature went and succeeded; but man would go farther. The great error of our nature is not to know where to stop; not to be satisfied with any reasonable acquirement; not to compound with our condition but to lose all we have gained by an insatiable pursuit after more. Man found a considerable advantage by this union of many persons to form one family; he, therefore, judged that he would find his account proportionably in an union of many families into one body politic. And as nature has formed no bond of union to hold them together, he supplied this defect by laws.
This is political society. And hence the sources of what are usually called states, civil societies, or governments; into some form of which, more extended or restrained, all mankind have gradually fallen. And since it has so happened, and that we owe an implicit reverence to all the institutions of our ancestors, we shall consider these institutions with all that modesty with which we ought to conduct ourselves in examining a received opinion; but with all that freedom and candor which we owe to truth wherever we find it, or however it may contradict our own notions, or oppose our own interests. There is a most absurd and audacious method of reasoning avowed by some bigots and enthusiasts, and, through fear, assented to by some wiser and better men; it is this: They argue against a fair discussion of popular prejudices, because, say they, though they would be found without any reasonable support, yet the discovery might be productive of the most dangerous consequences. Absurd and blasphemous notion! as if all happiness was not connected with the practice of virtue, which necessarily depends upon the knowledge of truth; that is, upon the knowledge of those unalterable relations which Providence has ordained that everything should bear to every other. These relations, which are truth itself, the foundation of virtue, and, consequently, the only measures of happiness, should be likewise the only measures by which we should direct our reasoning. To these we should conform in good, earnest; and not to think to force nature, and the whole order of her system by a compliance with our pride and folly, to conform to our artificial regulations. It is by a conformity to this method we owe the discovery of the few truths we know, and the little liberty and rational happiness we enjoy. We have something fairer play than a reasoner could have expected formerly; and we derive advantages from it which are very visible.
The fabric of superstition has in this our age and nation received much ruder shocks than it had ever felt before; and, through the chinks and breaches of our prison, we see such glimmerings of light, and feel such refreshing airs of liberty, as daily raise our ardor for more. The miseries derived to mankind from superstition under the name of religion, and of ecclesiastical tyranny under the name of church government, have been clearly and usefully exposed. We begin to think and to act from reason and from nature alone. This is true of several, but still is by far the majority in the same old state of blindness and slavery; and much is to be feared that we shall perpetually relapse, whilst the real productive cause of all this superstitious folly, enthusiastical nonsense, and holy tyranny holds a reverend place in the estimation even of those who are otherwise enlightened.
Civil government borrows a strength from ecclesiastical; and artificial laws receive a sanction from artificial revelations. The ideas of religion and government are closely connected; and whilst we receive government as a thing necessary, or even useful to our well-being, we shall in spite of us draw in, as a necessary, though undesirable, consequence, an artificial religion of some kind or other. To this the vulgar will always be voluntary slaves; and even those of a rank of understanding superior, will now and then involuntarily feel its influence. It is, therefore, of the deepest concernment to us to be set right in this point; and to be well satisfied whether civil government be such a protector from natural evils, and such a nurse and increaser of blessings, as those of warm imaginations promise. In such a discussion, far am I from proposing in the least to reflect on our most wise form of government; no more than I would, in the freer parts of my philosophical writings, mean to object to the piety, truth, and perfection of our most excellent church. Both, I am sensible, have their foundations on a rock. No discovery of truth can prejudice them. On the contrary, the more closely the origin of religion and government are examined, the more clearly their excellencies must appear. They come purified from the fire. My business is not with them.* Having entered a protest against all objections from these quarters, I may the more freely inquire, from history and experience, how far policy has contributed in all times to alleviate those evils which Providence, that perhaps has designed us for a state of imperfection, has imposed; how far our physical skill has cured our constitutional disorders; and whether it may not have introduced new ones, curable perhaps by no skill.
In looking over any state to form a judgment on it, it presents itself in two lights: the external and the internal. The first, that relation which it bears in point of friendship or enmity to other states. The second, that relation which its component parts, the governing and the governed, bear to each other. The first part of the external view of all states, their relation as friends, makes so trifling a figure in history, that, I am very sorry to say, it affords me but little matter on which to expatiate. The good offices done by one nation to its neighbor; the support given in public distress; the relief afforded in general calamity; the protection granted in emergent danger; the mutual return of kindness and civility, would afford a very ample and very pleasing subject for history. But alas! all the history of all times, concerning all nations, does not afford matter enough to fill ten pages, though it should be spun out by the wire-drawing amplification of a Guiceiardini himself. The glaring side is that of enmity. War is the matter which fills all history, and consequently the only, or almost the only, view in which we can see the external of political society is in a hostile shape; and the only actions to which we have always seen, and still see, all of them intent, are such as tend to the destruction of one another. “War,” says Machiavel, “ought to be the only study of a prince;” and by a prince, he means every sort of state, however constituted. “He ought,” says this great political Doctor, “to consider peace only as a breathing-time, which gives him leisure to contrive, and furnishes ability to execute military plans.” A meditation on the conduct of political societies made old Hobbes imagine that war was the state of nature; and truly, if a man judged of the individuals of our race by their conduct, when united and packed into nations and kingdoms, he might imagine that every sort of virtue was unnatural and foreign to the mind of man.
The first accounts we have of mankind are but so many accounts of their butcheries. All empires have been cemented in blood; and, in those early periods when the race of mankind began first to form themselves into parties and combinations, the first effect of the combination, and indeed the end for which it seems purposely formed, and best calculated, is their mutual destruction. All ancient history is dark and uncertain. One thing, however, is clear. There were conquerors and conquests in those days; and, consequently, all that devastation by which they are formed, and all that oppression by which they are maintained. We know little of Sesostris, but that he led out of Egypt an army of above 700,000 men; that he overran the Mediterranean coast as far as Colchis; that, in some places, be met but little resistance, and of course shed not a great deal of blood; but that he found, in others, a people who knew the value of their liberties, and sold them clear. Whoever considers the army this conqueror headed, the space he traversed, and the opposition he frequently met, with the natural accidents of sickness, and the dearth and badness of provision to which he must have been subject in the variety of climate and countries his march lay through, if he knows anything, he must know that even the conqueror’s army must have suffered greatly; and that, of this immense number, but a very small part could have returned to enjoy the plunder accumulated by the loss of so many of their companions, and the devastation of so considerable a part of the world. Considering, I say, the vast army headed by this conqueror, whose unwieldy weight was almost alone sufficient to wear down its strength, it will be far from excess to suppose that one half was lost in the expedition. If this was the state of the victorious (and, from the circumstances, it must have been this at the least), the vanquished must have had a much heavier loss, as the greatest slaughter is always in the flight; and great carnage did in those times and countries ever attend the first rage of conquest. It will, therefore, be very reasonable to allow on their account as much as, added to the losses of the conqueror, may amount to a million of deaths; and then we shall see this conqueror, the oldest we have on the records of history (though, as we have observed before, the chronology of these remote times is extremely uncertain), opening the scene by a destruction of at least one million of his species, unprovoked but by his ambition, without any motives but pride, cruelty, and madness, and without any benefit to himself (for Justin expressly tells us he did not maintain his conquests); but solely to make so many people, in so distant countries, feel experimentally how severe a scourge Providence intends for the human race, when he gives one man the power over many, and arms his naturally impotent and feeble rage with the hands of millions, who know no common principle of action but a blind obedience to the passions of their ruler.
The next personage who figures in the tragedies of this ancient theatre is Semiramis; for we have no particulars of Ninus, but that he made immense and rapid conquests, which, doubtless, were not compassed without the usual carnage. We see an army of about three millions employed by this martial queen in a war against the Indians. We see the Indians arming a yet greater; and we behold a war continued with much fury, and with various success. This ends in the retreat of the queen, with scarce a third of the troops employed in the expedition,— an expedition which, at this rate, must have cost two millions of souls on her part; and it is not unreasonable to judge that the country which was the scat of the war must have been an equal sufferer. But I am content to detract from this, and to suppose that the Indians lost only half as much, and then, the account stands thus: — In this war alone (for Semiramis had other wars), in this single reign, and in this one spot of the globe, did three millions of souls expire, with all the horrid and shocking circumstances which attend all wars, and in a quarrel in which none of the sufferers could have the least rational concern.
The Babylonian, Assyrian, Median, and Persian monarchies must have poured out seas of blood in their formation, and in their destruction. The armies and fleets of Xerxes, their numbers, the glorious stand made against them, and the unfortunate event of all his mighty preparations are known to everybody. In this expedition, draining half Asia of its inhabitants, he led an army of about two millions to be slaughtered and wasted by a thousand fatal accidents, in the same place where his predecessors had before, by a similar madness, consumed the flower of so many kingdoms, and wasted the force of so extensive an empire. It is a cheap calculation to say that the Persian empire, in its wars against the Greeks and Scythians, threw away at least four millions of its subjects; to say nothing of its other wars, and the losses sustained in them. These were their losses abroad; but the war was brought home to them, first by Agesilaus, and afterwards by Alexander. I have not, in this retreat, the books necessary to make very exact calculations; nor is it necessary to give more than hints to one of your Lordship’s erudition. You will recollect nis uninterrupted series of success. You will run over his battles. You will call to mind the carnage which was made. You will give a glance at the whole, and you will agree with me, that, to form this hero, no less than twelve hundred thousand lives must have been sacrificed; but no sooner had he fallen himself a sacrifice to his vices than a thousand breaches were made for ruin to enter and give the last hand to this scene of misery and destruction. His kingdom was rent and divided; which served to employ the most distinct parts to tear each other to pieces, and bury the whole in blood and slaughter. The kings of Syria and of Egypt, the kings of Pergamus and Macedon, without intermission worried each other for above two hundred years; until at last a strong power, arising in the west, rushed in upon them and silenced their tumults by involving all the contending parties in the same destruction, it is little to say that the contentions between the successors of Alexander depopulated that part of the world of at least two millions.
[To be continued.]
* Here is the only bit of irony in the Essay, as is effectively proved by what Burke says in paragraphs 33 and 34, wherein he shows how “our most wise form of government” must, from its very nature, breed and foster all manner of moral and social evil.
What’s To Be Done?
By N. G. Tchernychewsky.
Translated by Benj. R. Tucker.
Continued from No. 53.
Vera Pavlovna’s shop was quickly established. At first the organization was so simple that nothing need be said about it. Vera Pavlovna had told her first three seamstresses that she would give them a little higher wages than the current rate paid to seamstresses. The three working girls, appreciating the character of Vera Pavlovna, had willingly consented to work for her. They were not at all disturbed at a poor woman’s desiring to establish a dressmaker’s shop.
These three young girls found four more, choosing them with all the circumspection that Vera Pavlovna had recommended to them: these conditions of choice had nothing in them to excite suspicion, nothing of an extraordinary character: what is there extraordinary in the fact that a young woman should desire her shop-girls to be of good and open character? She wants no quarrels, that is all; it is only prudence on her part.
Vera Pavlovna also formed a somewhat intimate acquaintance with the girls newly selected before telling them that she accepted them; this was very natural; she still acted like a prudent woman.
They worked a month for the wages agreed upon. Vera Pavlovna was always at the shop, so that the seamstresses had plenty of time to know her more closely and see that she was economical, circumspect, reasonable, and at the same time good; therefore she obtained their confidence very quickly. Than this there was but one thing further to say,— that she was a good employer, who knew how to manage her affairs.
When the month was over, Vera Pavlovna came to the shop with an account book, and asked her seamstresses to suspend their work and listen. Then she said to them in simple language things such as the seamstresses had never heard before:
“Now we know each other. For my part, I can say of you that you are good workers and good characters. And I do not believe that you will speak very ill of me. I am going to talk to you without reserve, and if what I say seems strange, you will reflect before deciding upon it; you will not regard my words as futile, for you know me for a serious woman.
“This is what I have to say:
“People of heart say that dressmakers’ shops can be established in which the seamstresses shall work with greater profit than in the shops generally known. It has been my wish to make the attempt. Judging from the first month, we must conclude that these people are right. Your wages you have had. I am now going to tell you how much profit remains to me after deducting your wages and the running expenses.”
Vera Pavlovna read them the account of the expenses and receipts for the month just over. Under the head of expenses were placed, besides the wages paid, all the other costs,— the rent of the room, lights, and even Vera Pavlovna’s carriage-hire in conducting the business of the shop.
“I have so much left,” she continued; “what’s to be done with this money? I have established a workshop in order that the profits resulting from the work may go to the workers; that is why I come, for this first time, to distribute it among you equally. Then we shall see if that is the best way, or if it would be better to employ this money otherwise.”
Having said this, she made the distribution. For some minutes the seamstresses could not recover from their astonishment; then they began to thank her. Vera Pavlovna let them go on, fearing that she would offend them if she refused to listen, which would have seemed in their eyes indifference and disdain.
“Now,” she continued, “I have to tell you the most difficult thing that I shall ever have to say to you, and I do not know whether I shall succeed in making it clear. Nevertheless I must try. Why have I not kept this money? And of what use is it to establish a workshop if not to make a profit from it? I and my husband have, as you know, the necessaries: although we are not rich, we have every thing that we need and enough of it. Now, if I needed anything, I should only have to say so to my husband; or, rather, even that would be needless, for if I wanted anything, he would perceive it himself and give it to me. His business is not of the most lucrative sort, but it is what he best likes. But as we love each other much, it is infinitely agreeable to him to do that which pleases me; on my side, I love to do that which pleases him. Therefore, if I needed money, he would engage in more lucrative business than that which now occupies him. And he would find it quickly, for he is intelligent and skilful,— but you are somewhat acquainted with him. Now, if he does not do it, that means that the money which we have is enough for me. I have no passion for money; every one has his passion, which is not always the passion for money. Some have a passion for dancing, others for dress, others for cards, and all are ready to ruin themselves to satisfy their ruling passion; many actually do it, and nobody is astonished at it. Now, I have a pasion for the things in which I am engaged with you, and, far from ruining myself for my passion. I spend scarcely any money upon it, and I am happy to indulge myself in it without making any profit thereby. Well, there is nothing strange in that, it seems to me: who thinks of making a profit out of his passion? Every one even sacrifices money for it. I do not even do that; I spend nothing on it. Therefore I have an advantage over others in that my passion, though agreeable to me, costs me nothing, while others pay for their pleasure. Why have I this passion? This is why: Good and intelligent people have written many books concerning the way in which we should live in order that all may be happy; and the principal means that they recommend is the organization of workshops on a new basis.
“I, wishing to see if we can establish a workshop of this sort, act just as any one does who desires to build a beautiful house or lay out a line garden or orange-grove in order to contemplate them; I wish to establish a good dressmaker’s shop in order that I may have the pleasure of contemplating it. Cerlainly it would be something gained already, if I confined myself to distributing the profits among you monthly, as I do now. But good people say that we can manage in a much better and more profitable way. I will tell you little by little all that we can do besides, if we take the advice of intelligent people. Moreover, you yourselves, by watching things closely, will make your own observations, and when it shall seem to you possible for us to do something good, we will try to do it, but gradually and in proper season. I must only add that without your consent I shall establish nothing new. Nothing will be changed until you desire it. Intelligent people say that nothing succeeds unless it is done voluntarily. I am of their opinion, and shall do nothing without your consent.
“Here is my last order: You see that it is necessary to keep books, and look out that, there may be no useless expenditures. During this first month I have done this alone, but I do not care to do so any more. Choose two of your number to join me in this work; without their advice I shall do nothing. The money is yours and not mine; therefore it is for you to watch its employment. We are hardly well enough acquainted with each other yet to know which of you is best fitted for such work; we must make a trial and choose only for a limited time; in a week you will know whether to appoint other delegates or let the old ones continue.”
These extraordinary words gave rise to long discussions. But Vera Pavlovna had gained the confidence of the working girls. She had talked to them in a very simple way, without going too far or unfolding attractive prospects before them which, after a temporary enthusiasm, give birth to distrust; consequently the young girls were far from taking her for a crank, and that was the principal point. The business went on very satisfactorily.
Here, for the rest, in an abridged form, is the history of the shop during the three years that this shop constituted the principal feature in the history of Vera Pavlovna herself.
The founders were directly interested in the success of the business, and naturally it went on very well. The shop never lost customers. It had to undergo the jealousies of a few other shops and stores, but this proved no serious obstacle. All that Vera Pavlovna had to do was to obtain the right to put a sign over the shop-door. They soon had more orders than the working girls originally employed could execute, and the force went on steadily growing. When the business had been in operation eighteen months, it kept twenty young girls at work; afterwards, more still. One of the first measures of the collective administration was a decision that Vera Pavlovna no more than the others should work without reward. When this was announced to her, she told the working girls that they were perfectly right. They wished to give her a third of the profits. She laid this aside for a certain time until she was able to convince the young girls that this was contrary the fundamental idea of their institution. For a long time they did not understand; at last they were convinced that it was not from pride that Vera Pavlovna did not wish to accept a larger share of the profits than the others had, but because it was contrary to the spirit of the association. The business was already so large that Vera Pavlovna could not do all the cutting; they gave her another cutter to aid her. Both received the same wages, and Vera Pavlovna succeeded at last in inducing the society to receive into its treasury the sum of the profits that it had obliged her to accept, first deducting that to which she was entitled as a cutter. They used this money to open a bank.
For a year Vera Pavlovna spent a great portion of the day at the shop, where she worked as many hours as any of the seamstresses, perhaps more than any of them. When it became needless for her to work all day at the shop, she caused her wages to be decreased in proportion to the decrease of her hours of labor.
How should the profits be divided? Vera Pavlovna desired to arrive at an equal division. Not until the middle of the third year did she succeed in this. Prior to that, they passed through several stages, beginning by dividing in proportion to the wages. First, they saw that, if a working girl was kept from work for several days by sickness or some other cause deserving of consideration, it was not right to diminish her share of the profits, which she acquired not exactly by her own day’s works, but rather by the progress of the work as a whole and the general condition of the shop. Later they decided that the cutters and such of the other workers as received separate pay for delivering the work at houses or fulfilling other functions, were sufficiently compensated by their individual wages, and that it was not just that they should receive more of the profits than the others. The simple seamstresses were so delicate about the matter that they did not ask for this change, even when they saw the injustice of the old method of distribution established by themselves. For the rest, it must be added that there was nothing heroic in this temporary delicacy, inasmuch as the affairs of all were improving constantly. The most difficult thing of all was to make the simple working girls understand that one ought to receive just as much of the profits as another, although some earned more than others, and that those who labored most skilfully were already sufficiently rewarded by their larger wages. This was the last change to be made in the division of the profits, and it was not reached, as has already been said, until towards the middle of the third year, when the associates had come to understand that the profits were not a reward for the talent of one or another, but rather a result of the general character of the workshop, a result of its organization and its object. Now, this object was the greatest possible equality in the distribution of the fruits of collective labor among all the working girls, regardless of the personal peculiarities of each. Upon this character of the workshop depended the participation of the laborers in the profits. But as the character of the workshop, its spirit, and its order were produced by the mutual understanding of all, the tacit consent of the most timid or the least capable was not useless in maintaining and developing this understanding.*
I pass by many details, because it is not the workshop that I am describing; I speak of it only so far as is necessary to exhibit the activity of Vera Pavlovna. If I mention some of its peculiarities, it is solely with a view of showing how Vera Pavlovna acted in this affair, and how she guided it gradually, with an indefatigable patience and a remarkable steadfastness of purpose. She never commanded, confining herself to advising, explaining, proposing her cooperation, and aiding in the execution of whatever the collectivity had resolved upon.
The profits were divided every month. At first each working girl took her entire share and spent it separately: each had urgent needs, and they were not accustomed to acting in concert. When, through constant participation in the business, they had acquired the habit of combining their efforts in the shop, Vera Pavlovna fixed their attention upon the circumstance that in their trade the amount of patronage is very uneven, depending upon the months of the year, and that it would not be a bad plan to lay aside during the most profitable months a portion of the income in order to make up for the decrease of profits in the other months.
The accounts were kept very exactly, and the young girls knew well that, if any one of them should leave the shop, she would receive without any delay the share belonging to her. Consequently they consented to this proposition. A small reserve capital was formed; it went on growing steadily; they began to seek various uses for it. Everybody understood, in the first place, that loans would be made to those of the participants who should chance to have a great need of money, and no one desired to lend at interest: poor people believe that pecuniary aid should be extended without interest. The establishment of this bank was followed by the foundation of a purchasing agency: the young girls found that it would be advantageous to buy their tea, coffee, sugar, shoes, and in short many other things, through the agency of the association, which bought merchandise in large quantities and consequently at lower rates. Some time later they went further still: they saw that it would be advantageous to organize in the same way for the purchase of bread and other provisions which they bought every day at the bake-shops and groceries; but they perceived at the same time that to do that it would be necessary for the associates to live not far apart. They began to draw together, several living in one house, or taking rooms near the shop. After which the association established an agency for its dealings with the bakers and grocers. About eighteen months later almost all the working girls were living in one large house, had a common table, and bought their provisions as they do in large establishments.
Half of these young girls were without family. Some had aged relatives, mothers or aunts; two of them supported their old father; several had little brothers and sisters. Because of these family relations three of them were unable to live in the house with the others: one had a mother difficult to get along with; another had a mother in government employ who objected to living with girls from the country; the third had a drunken father. These profited only by the purchasing agency; it was the same with the married seamstresses. But with these exceptions all those who had relatives to support lived in the common house. They lived two and three in a room; their relatives arranged themselves each in his or her own fashion; two old women had each a separate chamber, but the others roomed together. The little boys had a room of their own; for the little girls there were two.
It was agreed that the boys could not remain there after the age of eight; those who were older were sent to learn a trade as apprentices.
The accounts were kept in the most exact manner in order that no one in the association might injure any other or profit by another’s injury.
It would be too long and tedious to enter into fuller details, but there is one point more that must be explained.
Vera Pavlovna, from the very first, took books to the shop. After having given her directions, she began to read aloud, continuing half an hour if not interrupted sooner by the necessity of distributing more work. Then the young girls rested from the attention which they had given to the reading; afterwards they resumed it, and then rested again. It is needless to say that the young girls from the first acquired a passion for reading; some had already acquired it before they came to the shop. Three weeks later, reading during work had become a regular thing. When three or four months had passed, some of the more skilful seamstresses offered to do the reading; it was agreed that they should replace Vera Pavlovna, that each should read half an hour, and that this half-hour should be counted as a part of their labor.
As long as Vera Pavlovna was obliged to do the reading, she sometimes replaced it by stories; when relieved of the reading, she multiplied the stories which soon became a sort of course of lessons. Then — and this was a great step — Vera Pavlovna succeeded in establishing a regular system of instruction: the young girls became so desirous of learning and their labor went on so successfully that they decided to interrupt their labor to listen to the lessons in the middle of the day’s work and before dinner.
“Alexey Petrovitch,” said Vera Pavlovna, when calling on the Mertzaloffs one day, “I have a request to make of you: Natacha is already with me in the idea. My shop is becoming a college of all sorts of learning. Be one of our professors.”
“What then shall I teach them? Latin or Greek perhaps, or even logic and rhetoric?” said Alexey Petrovitch, laughing: “my specialty is not very interesting in your opinion and in the opinion of some one whom I well know.”
“No, you are needed precisely as a specialist; you will serve us as a moral buckler and a proof of the good tendency of our teaching.”
“You are right. I see clearly that without me this would be immoral. What shall I teach?”
“Russian history, for instance, or an outline of universal history.”
“Exactly. That is what I will teach, and it shall be supposed that I am a specialist. Delightful! Two functions,— a professor and a buckler.”
Natalia Andrevna, Lopoukhoff, three students, and Vera Pavlovna herself were the other professors, as they jokingly called themselves.**
They mingled instruction with amusements. They had evening parties, suburban walks, at first seldom, and then, when money was plentier, more frequently; they also went to the theatre. The third winter they subscribed regularly to gallery seats at the Italian opera.
What joy! What happiness for Vera Pavlovna! But how much labor also, and anxiety, and even sorrow! The most painful impression of this sort, not only to Vera Pavlovna, but to all her little circle, was caused by the misfortune of one of the best of the working girls, Alexandrine Pribytkoff. She was pretty, and was engaged to an officeholder. One evening, when walking in the street a little later than usual, a man ran after her and took her by the hand. Wishing to release herself, she polled her arm away quickly, thus causing the man’s watch to fall. “Thief, thief!” he cried. The police came and the young girl was arrested. The lover, on hearing this news, began a search for the individual, found him, and challenged him to a duel; he refused; then the lover struck his adversary; the latter took a stick to strike back, but, before he could do so, received a blow in the breast and fell stone dead. Then the lover was imprisoned in his turn, and endless court proceedings began. And then? Then nothing, except that after that it was pitiful to look at Alexandrine Pribytkoff.
Connected with the shop were many other histories, less dramatic but equally sorrowful. These adventures, inevitable amid the prevailing ideas and surroundings, certainly caused Vera Pavlovna much sorrow and still more embarrassment.
But much greater — oh, much greater! — were the joys. All was joy except the sorrows, for the general progress of the association was gay and prosperous. Therefore, though distressing accidents sometimes happened, much more frequent on the other hand were the happy occurrences. Vera Pavlovna succeeded in finding good situations for the little brothers or sisters of such or such a working girl. In the course of the third year two of the working girls passed an examination for a governess’s situation,— to them a great piece of good fortune! Cases of this sort abounded; but most joyous of all were the marriages. There were many of them and all were happy.
Vera Pavlovna was twice invited to stand godmother and twice refused. This role was almost always taken by Madame Mertzaloff, or by her mother, who was also a very good lady. The first time that she refused it was thought that she was displeased at something, and refused for that reason; but no: Vera Pavlovna was very happy to be invited, and it was simply out of modesty that she did not accept, not wishing to appear officially as the patron of the bride. She always avoided the appearance of influence; she tried to put others forward and succeeded in it, so that, a number of ladies, on coming to the shop to give orders, did not distinguish her from the two other cutters. Her greatest pleasure was to demonstrate that the association had been established and was maintained by the working girls themselves. She wished to persuade herself of the possibility of her desire that the shop might be able to go on without her and others of the same sort spring up quite unexpectedly. “And why not? How good that would be! What better thing could happen?” — than that they should spring up without the guidance of some one not a dressmaker, guided solely by the intelligence and tact of the working girls themselves.
Such was Vera Pavlovna’s fondest, dearest dream.
Thus had rolled away nearly three years since the establishment of the workshop, and more than three years since Vera Pavlovna’s marriage. By what smoothness and activity had these years been marked! With what tranquillity, joys, and contentment of all sorts had they not been filled!
Vera Pavlovna, waking in the morning, dozes a long time in bed; she loves to doze; while appearing to sleep, she thinks of what there is to do; after which her thought wanders, and she says to herself: “How warm this bed is! How nice it is thus to doze in the morning!” and so she dozes until from the neutral room (now we must say from one of the neutral rooms, for there are two in this fourth year of their marriage) — until from one of the neutral rooms her husband — that is, “her darling” — calls out: “Verotchka, are you awake?”
“Yes, my darling.”
This “yes” means that the husband may begin to make the tea: for he makes the tea in the morning, while Vera Pavlovna — no, in her room she is not Vera Pavlovna, but Verotchka — is dressing. She is very long in dressing: Not at all! She dresses quickly, but she likes to let the water stream over her a long time; then she is a long time in combing her hair, or, rather, not exactly that; she combs her hair quickly, only she likes to play with her tresses, of which she is very fond; sometimes too, it must be added, she pays particular attention to one feature of her toilet,— her boots: Verotchka dresses with much simplicity, but she has beautiful boots; to have beautiful boots is her passion.
Now she goes out to drink her tea; she kisses her husband.
“Did you sleep well, my darling?”
While drinking the tea, she talks about various subjects, trivial or serious. Furthermore Vera Pavlovna — no, Verotchka (during the morning meal she is still Verotchka) — does not take as much tea as cream: the tea is only a pretext for taking the cream, and she puts in much more cream than tea; cream also is her passion. It is very difficult to get good cream in St. Petersburg, but she knows where to find real cream, excellent cream. She dreams of owning a cow; if affairs go on for another year as they have already gone on, perhaps she may have one. But it is nine o’clock. Her darling goes off to give his lessons or attend to his other business: he is also employed in a manufacturer’s counting-room. Vera Pavlovna now becomes Vera Pavlovna until the next morning. She attends to her household duties; she has but one servant, a very young girt, who has to be shown everything; and as soon as she has become familiar with affairs, a new one has to be shown, for servants do not stay long with Vera Pavlovna. They are always marrying. After six months or a little more Vera Pavlovna makes a pelerine or some ruffles as a preparation for standing godmother. On this occasion she cannot refuse. “But then, Vera Pavlovna, you have arranged everything; no one but you can be godmother,” they would say, with reason.
Yes, she has many household cares. Then she has to go to give her lessons, numerous enough to occupy her ten hours a week: to have more would be fatiguing to her, and furthermore she has no time. Before the lessons she has to go to the shop and spend some time there; on returning from the lessons she has to call in again and take a glance at affairs, Then it is time to dine with her “darling.” Often there are one or two persons to dine with them. Not more than two; they cannot have more; and even two cause considerable trouble if Vera Pavlovna comes home tired, then the dinner is simpler; she goes to her room to rest, and the dinner begun under her direction is finished without her. But if on coming home she is not tired, she runs to the kitchen and goes actively to work; in that case the dinner is ornamented with some bit of pastry, generally something to be eaten with cream,— that is, something that may serve as a pretext for eating cream. During the meal she talks and asks questions, but generally talks; and why should she not talk? How many new things she has to communicate concerning the shop alone! After the meal she remains a quarter of an hour longer with her “darling;” then they say “au revoir,” and retire to their respective rooms. Now Vera Pavlovna again lies down upon her bed, where she reads and dozes; very often she sleeps; perhaps that is the ease half of the time. It is her weakness, a vulgar weakness perhaps; but Vera Pavlovna sleeps after dinner. And she even loves to sleep; she is neither ashamed nor repentant of this vulgar weakness. She rises after having slept or simply dozed for an hour and a half or two hours; she dresses and goes once more to the shop, where she stays until tea-time. Then, if they have no guests to take tea with them, she talks again with her “darling,” and they spend about half an hour in the neutral room. After which, “Till tomorrow, my darling;” they kiss each other and separate until the following morning.
Then for some time, occasionally until two o’clock in the morning, she works, reads, finds recreation at the piano (which is in her room). This grand piano has just been bought; previously she had hired one. It was a great pleasure to her when this piano was bought; in the first place it was a saving. The piano, which was a small second-hand one, cost one hundred roubles; it only had to be repaired at a cost of seventy roubles, and then she had a piano of excellent tone. Sometimes her darling comes in to hear her sing, but only rarely: he has so much to do! So the evening passes: working, reading, playing, singing; but especially reading and singing. This when nobody is there. But very often they receive visitors, generally young people not as old as Vera Pavlovna herself, among the number the workshop professors. All hold Lopoukhoff in high esteem, consider him one of the best minds of St. Petersburg, and perhaps they are not wrong. This is the motive of their intimacy with the Lopoukhoffs: they find Dmitry Sergueitch’s conversations useful to them. For Vera Pavlovna they have a boundless veneration; she even permits them to kiss her hand without feeling herself humiliated, and conducts herself toward them as if she were fifteen years their elder; that is, she so conducts herself when not indulging in gayeties; but, to tell the truth, the most of the time she does indulge in gayeties: she runs, she plays with them and they are enchanted, and all dance, and waltz, and run, and chatter, and laugh, and make music, and, above all, sing. So much gayety does not at all prevent these young people from profoundly venerating Vera Pavlovna, and from esteeming her as one rarely esteems an elder sister and as one does not always esteem a good mother. Moreover, the song is not always a gay one: in fact, Vera Pavlovna oftenest sings serious things; sometimes she stops singing and plays serious airs on her piano; her hearers listen in silence. They receive also older visitors, their equals,— for the most part Lopoukhoff’s old comrades, acquaintances of his old comrades, and two or three young professors, almost all bachelors: the only married people are the Mertzaloffs.
Tiie Lopoukhoffs visit more rarely, scarcely ever going to see any one but the Mertzaloffs and Madame Mertzaloff’s parents: these good and simple old people have a large number of sons filling positions of considerable importance in all the different ministries; at the houses of these, who live in a certain degree of luxury, Vera Pavlovna meets a society of all colors and shades. This free, active life, not without a touch of sybaritism,— dozing in her soft, warm bed, taking cream, eating pastry with cream,— this life is very pleasant to Vera Pavlovna.
Does the world afford a better life? To her as yet it seems not.
Yes, and for the beginning of youth perhaps she is right.
But the years roll on, and with the lapse of time life grows better, provided it comes to be what it already is for some and what it one day will be for all.
One day — the end of the summer was already near at hand — the young girls were getting ready to take their customary Sunday walk in the suburbs. On almost every holiday during the summer they went in boats to the islands.*** Ordinarily Vera Pavlovna alone went with them, but on this occasion Dmitry Sergueitch was going too, which was very extraordinary; it was the second time that year that he had done so. This news caused much joy in the shop: Vera Pavlovna, thought the girls, will be gayer than usual, and the walk will be a very lively one. Consequently some of the girls, who had intended to pass this Sunday otherwise, changed their plans and joined the promenaders. They had to engage five yawls instead of four, and found that even five would not be enough; they had to take a sixth. There were more than fifty persons, over twenty of whom were seamstresses. Only six were absent. There were three women advanced in years; a dozen children; mothers, sisters, and brothers of the seamstresses; three young men who had sweethearts among them, one being a clock-maker’s foreman, another a small merchant, and both scarcely yielding in point of manners to the third, who was a schoolteacher in the district; and finally five other young men of various pursuits, of whom two were officers, and eight students from the University and Medical Academy.
They took four great samovars filled with bits of all sorts of provisions, bread, cold veal, etc. For the young people were very active, and in the open air could be relied on to have good appetites: they did not forget half a dozen bottles of wine: for fifty people, fifteen of whom were children, this was certainly none too much.
The trip was a very joyous one; nothing was wanting. They danced quadrilles with sixteen and even twenty couples. In the races twenty-two couples took part; they hung three swings between the trees: in the intervals they drank tea or ate. For half an hour a part of the joyous company listened to a discussion between Dmitry Sergueitch and two students, the most intimate of his younger friends; they mutually changed each other with erroneous reasoning, moderantism, and bourgeoisisme. These were general charges, but in each individual some special fault was pointed out. In one of the students it was romanticism, in Dmitry Sergueitch schematism, and in the other student rigorism: it is needless to say that it was very difficult for a simple listener to give attention to such a discussion for more than five minutes.
One of the disputants was not able to keep it up over an hour and a half, after which he fled to join the dancers, but his flight was not altogether inglorious. He had become indignant against some moderate or other. Undoubtedly this moderate was myself, though I was not present, and knowing that the object of his wrath was already well along in years, he cried out: “What are you talking about? Let me quote you some words that I heard uttered lately by a very estimable and very intelligent lady: ‘Man is incapable of useful thought after the age of twenty-five years.’”
“But I know the lady to whom you refer,” said the officer, approaching, unfortunately for the romanticist; “she is Madame N., and she said that in my presence: she is indeed an excellent lady, only she was convicted on the spot of having boasted half an hour before of being twenty-six years old, and you remember, do you not, how she joined all the others in laughing at herself.”
And now all four laughed, and the romanticist, while laughing, took advantage of the opportunity to run away. But the officer took his place in the discussion. which grew still more animated and lasted until tea was ready. The officer answered the rigorist and the sehematist more rudely than the romanticist had done, but showed himself a thorough-going follower of Auguste Comte.
After tea the officer declared that, inasmuch as he was still at that age when one can think correctly, he was ready to join the other individuals of the same age; Dmitry Sergueitch and even the rigorist followed his example in spite of themselves; it is true that they did not dance, but they joined in the races. When the contests in running and leaping the brook began, the three thinkers showed themselves among the most enthusiastic. The officer proved himself the superior when it came to leaping the brook, Dmitry Sergueitch, who was endowed with great strength, became greatly excited on being thrown by the officer; he counted on being the first in this sort of exercise after the rigorist, who very easily lifted into the air and threw to the ground Dmitry and the officer together. That did not clash with the ambition of the officer or of Dmitry Sergueitch, for the rigorist was a recognized athlete; but Dmitry Sergueitch did not like to pocket the disgrace of being conquered by the officer, and so he returned to the struggle five times, and five times the officer, though not without difficulty, threw him. The sixth time he acknowledged himself conquered. Both could do no more. The three thinkers, stretching themselves upon the grass, resumed their discussion; this time Dmitry Sergueitch took the Comtean view and the officer was the schematist, but the rigorist remained a rigorist. At eleven o’clock they started homeward. The old women and children slept in the boats; fortunately they had taken many warm wraps along; the others on the contrary talked incessantly, and the games and laughter in the six yawls did not stop until their arrival.
[To be continued.]
* It is hardly the proper thing for a translator to interrupt the progress of a romance for purposes of controversy, but I cannot refrain from suggesting to Vera and her associates that, after they had received equitable wages for their work, all profits remaining belonged in equity to the consumers of their products, and should have been restored to them by a general reduction in the scale of prices. These consumers being laborers themselves in other fields and adopting similar methods of procedure, the principle of universal participation in the advantages of associated over isolated labor would then have been realized In the widest sense. — Translator.
** The title of professor, to Russia, is given only to University professors.
*** That is, the islands situated in the suburbs of St. Petersburg and formed by the various arms of the Neva.
“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.
Dissipating a Fog.
Liberty of Boston, has this to say of us: “The second number of ‘The Alarm’ has arrived. While, like the first, it abounds in sayings bright and brave and keen and true, it spoils all its support of liberty by opposing the private ownership of capital,” and it adds, “Pray, what are all other liberties worth without the liberty to own tools?” Liberty claims to be an Anarchistical journal. Anarchy means without law. How can a man own something without law? Of course a man can possess any and everything without law; but how can he without law own what he possesses? The right to the free use of tools is personal liberty; but ownership is the enslavement of all who are denied this right. Pray, what are all other liberties worth without the liberty to use tools, the private ownership of which can only be preserved by the enactment of law and the exercise of “authority?” — The Alarm.
The “Alarm” shall not be allowed to dodge this question by falling back on Proudhon’s distinction between property and possession unless it will agree to accept this distinction intelligently and square all its positions thereby. Every one who has read Liberty carefully knows that that distinction has been often sanctioned in these columns, just as every one who has read the “Alarm” as carefully as I have knows that its use of the words “ownership” and “property” is not based upon this distinction at all. I used the word “own” simply because the word “ownership” occurred in the phrase that I was criticising. Proudhon did indeed maintain that ownership and property are impossible without law, but he maintained it as rigorously of common property as of individual property. The editor of the “Alarm,” while pretending to assert this same identity of ownership with legal privilege, asserts in another column of his paper that capital ought to “become common property.” The “Alarm” claims to be an Anarchistical journal. Anarchy means without law. How can a community own something — that is, have property — without law? It is evident, that, if ownership is a legal privilege, Anarchists, or no-law people, must refuse to recognize it either in a common or a private form.
The fact is that the editor of the “Alarm,” in opposing the “private ownership of capital,” was not thinking of ownership as a legal privilege at all, and the idea that he was did not occur to him until driven to his trumps to find an answer to my criticism. In opposing the private ownership of capital he does not emphasize the word “ownership,” but the word “capital.” The distinction that obtains in his mind, as nearly all his articles show, is not between ownership and possession, but between capital and product. He has a vague idea that there are two classes of wealth, one of which should be possessed in common and the other in private; that one of these is capital and the other product; that a steam-engine should be held and operated by the community, but that a coat should be held and operated by the individual. Now, this is all fog, which needs for its dissipation nothing but a few clear notions of the real nature of capital. When these are formed, it will be seen that capital and product are not different kinds of wealth, but simply alternate conditions or functions of the same wealth; that all wealth undergoes an incessant transformation from capital into product and from product back into capital, the process repeating itself interminably; that capital and product are purely social terms; that what is product to one man immediately becomes capital to another, and vice versa; that, if there were but one person in the world, all wealth would be to him at once capital and product; that the fruit of A’s toil is his product, which, when sold to B, becomes B’s capital (unless B is an unproductive consumer, in which case it is merely wasted wealth outside the view of social economy); that all this is as true of steam-engines as of coats; that a steam-engine is just as much product as a coat, and that a coat is just as much capital as a steam-engine; and that the same laws of equity govern the possession of the one that govern the possession of the other.
In the foregoing clauses I have simply condensed Proudhon’s evolution of his definition of capital. Some day I shall publish his own more elaborate exposition, and then all loose thinkers may correct their errors by it if they will. Until then I must rest content with a reiteration of my statement that any advocacy of liberty which, like the “Alarm’s,” denies the liberty to possess tools is a pitiful farce. It is a painful duty to be forced to apply this unerring touchstone to every new advocate of professed Anarchism that comes to the front, but unquestionably it is a duty. In the performance of it I may be put down by sentimentalists as a captious carper, but every logical and consistent friend of Liberty will perceive that I am but insisting upon an all-important truth.
He Knows, But Doesn’t Mean Well.
In answer to a correspondent who attributes the hard conditions of labor to the influence of machinery in production, the editor of the Boston “Herald” says:
It is not the use of machinery that throws workingmen out of employment; but government at interference in trade, which prevents it from healthily developing itself. So long as millions of people go barefoot or are insufficiently shod, our correspondent will not pretend that there are more boots and shoes made by machinery or otherwise than are needed. But at the present time the government so contracts the possibilities of business, by taxing some classes in an extraordinary manner for the purpose of paying a bounty to other classes, that it is not possible for our citizens to make the money needed to supply themselves as they would like to with boots and shoes and other articles of wearing apparel. Under more favorable conditions — that is, with no pretence on the part of the government to interfere and dictate what industries should, and what industries should not, be carried on — trade would healthily develop itself to such an extent as to make it impossible for the boot and shoe machinery now in the country, if worked full time, to supply the demands of the trade.
Heretofore I had supposed that the editor of the “Herald” did not understand the causes of industrial depression. He has been such a stolid supporter of Authority and such a violent defamer of Anarchy that I have looked upon him as a person too prejudiced to be capable of using his reasoning faculties for the solution of social questions. See how easy it is to be mistaken. Here he declares and tells the workingman that labor is robbed by government; that there is no such thing as overproduction of useful articles; that government interference in trade deprives the laborer of employment; that the law of supply and demand is checked in its operation by the hand of authority; in short, that government is at the bottom of all the trouble in this world. Good Anarchistic doctrine; it shows that the editor of the “Herald” has used his reason, and knows that protected privilege is the despoiler of labor. If he would tell these truths always, and try to give the readers of the “Herald” clear ideas about the causes of social disorder and crime and poverty, what noble work he could do for humanity! Lovers of Liberty, just think of a paper, circulating one hundred thousand copies a day, preaching truth and justice to the people in every issue! Too good to be true? Alas! yes. He does not tell the truth for the truth’s sake, but just so much of it as he thinks will serve some base party purpose. He says: “We would inform ‘Honest Labor’ that what troubles him now is the artificial regulations of tariff,” and then he urges the workers to use their “political influence” to bring about the desired result,— the desired result being the giving of lucrative offices to certain politicians. The body being blood-poisoned, the quack points to a sore finger and says that is the cause of the disease, and he tells the patient that the cure is to cut off the finger. So the protective tariff is but a symptom of the disease of the whole system; and I credit the “Herald” editor with knowing this to be so. If I thereby flatter his understanding, I do so at the expense of his morals. He has shown that he has the capacity to understand the causes which produce industrial crises, panics, poverty, and crime, and that he knows government to be a fraud and a protector of thieves. In times past, I have called the “Herald” editor ignorant and accused him of inexcusable stupidity. I withdraw all such reflections upon his mental capacity; I prefer to impeach his honesty. I no longer think him a fool, for I know him to be a rogue.
New Jerusalem Reformers.
There is a loud call among the leading revolutionary spirits of the age for a new heaven and a new earth. Liberty most certainly signs the call. The old order must go: so much is settled.
But I utterly fail to comprehend the mental condition of a certain class of reformers who insist upon it that, before anything can be accomplished in this direction, the old heavens and the old earth must first be seized upon in bulk and put under foot. With Titanic threats these loud-mouthed enthusiasts stand idly prefiguring the awful day when they are to seize and handcuff human society in the lump, and then roll their new earth upon the scene to take the place of the old one, which they have cast overboard.
If you ask this kind of people to enter into any association to do under Liberty what is now monopolized by the State, and thus by quiet pressure all along the line gradually worry and freeze the State out, they shake their heads and declare that they can and will do nothing till they have seized upon and confiscated the whole existing machinery of society and set their own machine in its place. Hence, while the world smiles at the herculean job they have laid out, this order of revolutionists stands in utter idleness except to rant and threat. Meanwhile society goes about its daily business every day, and for aught these New Jerusalem reformers would ever interpose of practical competition under Liberty against State privilege, the existing order might have it all its own way for a thousand years to come.
There is another class of New Jerusalem reformers, scarcely less questionable than the above, who think that the only way to establish Liberty among men is to colonize it. The ordinary inventor who has a patent machine that is to revolutionize things generally advertises and tries it on in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, or Boston. But the New Jerusalem inventor who has a machine which he swears has settled the whole problem of practical liberty is chiefly interested to skulk away into North Carolina, Colorado, or Lower California with his indention, purchase five hundred or one thousand acres of scrub land, and colonize it with a chosen band of new-world creatures in Liberty’s far-off New Jerusalem.
I would not be so ungenerous and cynical as to assume that all these New Jerusalem reformers are men who lack the courage to drive Liberty’s standard right down where they stand and do what they can afford to do in the way of practical revolt. I rather fancy that they are simply overstrained enthusiasts, more or less tinctured with egotism, who never stop to ponder over the long centuries out of which the existing order has been slowly evolved and the equally long centuries of sober, patient, practical work required before the sun of the New Jerusalem will peer over the morning hill-tops of a regenerate social order.
You may kill the Czar of Russia (and he ought to be killed), but you cannot annul the invitation to some form of despotism till you can transform fifty millions of besotted Russian boors. You can seize Wall Street and the Capitol at Washington, but your new earth, built out of the material which has been tramping the streets by millions during the past few weeks behind brass bands, will soon fall to pieces. The only way to evict Wall Street, and sink the Capitol out of sight, radically, is to send the people to school to Liberty.
Now, if a school of passive revolt in behalf of Liberty is not good for the heart of our great cities, it has no place in the wilds of Texas and the Carolinas, and can stand for little less than a cowardly device to shirk revolt in the places where it can best advertise its logic. This heaven and this earth are all the material we have out of which to construct the new. They cannot be rolled overboard by threats nor spirited away by Utopian dreams. Every true man must go to work upon them and transform them here, now, and just where he stands. My plain advice to the New Jerusalem reformer is to either go to work or else get out of the way. There is plenty of work, and there are plenty of tools to work with, right where he stands.
To the Doubters.
The wide-eyed wonder with which even liberal and just-minded people read a copy of Liberty and get their first knowledge of the doctrines of Anarchy would be amusing if it were not saddening. In a good deal more than the slang sense of the word, they are paralyzed. “What is all this about Anarchy?” they say; “what does it mean? No law, no government? That would never do. Oh, it is all nonsense!” They stumble and fumble around the principles of liberty and justice, and say those principles are all right for the millennium, but we haven’t got there yet. And it never occurs to them that the way to get to an ideal time, or to go in its direction, is by the help of the principles that will make that time ideal.
A letter from one of these people lies before me. Its author is a man of unusual liberality and openness of mind, who has a large perception of natural justice, who is full of the enthusiasim of humanity, and who has a deep sympathy for the disinherited of earth,— such a man, in short, as Anarchists and possible martyrs are made of. And yet, after reading a copy or two of Liberty, he writes: “Liberty puzzles me. I do not know what Anarchy is. If it means absence of law and government — as I seem to gather — and is more than the expression of a tendency, I can not say that it suits me. ... In fact, to me the Anarchist is a crank — spiritually sick — his sickness a symptom of a serious social disease.”
I dare say that the majority of the people who call themselves Anarchists have passed through a state very similar to that of the writer of this letter. And inasmuch as we have got out of it all right, there is every reason to look with confidence to ward their future. If only they could be made to understand that Anarchy does not mean a sudden overturning of the existing order of things, a compulsory substitution of chaos for injustice, a whirlwind of mad disorder; if only they would listen long enough to find out that Anarchy means a slow growth of the principles of liberty and justice; the gradual dropping off of the “thou shalt’s” and “thou shalt not’s” of laws and constitutions as men slowly learn that it is better to be governed by reasonable and intelligent conviction from within than by compulsion from without; the gradual equalization of wealth by the substitution of a law that approaches justice for one that is unjust, and then the doing away with even this as men’s eyes get accustomed to the light, just as you would take off the bandages, slowly, one at a time, from the head of a man who has had a cataract removed from his eyes; the patient drilling into men’s minds of ideas of natural justice and liberty, of individual rights and respect therefor, and the convincing them that, if they let those principles have full sway, they can govern themselves better than they can be governed by the dicta of a set of men in a state house; the gradual dying away of nine-tenths of the incentives to crime by that same equalization of wealth which will remove on one hand the temptations of idleness and excessive wealth and on the other the compulsions of toiling poverty and degrading conditions,— if they would stop long enough to learn these things, they would not so often outrage their own reasoning powers by declaring that to be nonsensical and chimerical concerning whose first aims they are ignorant.
To these people it can not be said too often that Anarchy doas not wish to strangle its own cause by insisting upon the immediate adoption of its highest development. All it wants, all that its advocates expect, is the slow evolution, the gradual acceptance, of its principles in that same slow, blundering way in which the world has made all its progress. But it does believe that the only road for that progress, the only way by which that “millennium” can be reached, is by the gradual application, here a little, there a little, next year a little more, of those principles which even the doubters and deniers admit to be the principles which should hold sway in the “millennium.” And Anarchy asks, in the name of the persecuted Galileo, the ridiculed Columbus, the crucified Christ, and all the long list of men who have stretched forth their arms to aid the world in its progress and have received blows and persecution and death for their reward,— in the name of these Anarchy asks men of liberal and just ideas to keep their minds open with generous sympathy to what she has to say. Listen, question, consider. After you have weighed it well, reject it, if that seems to you right. But, in the name of all the martyrs to the world’s slow progress, do not put it aside as “nonsense” and call the Anarchist “a crank, spiritually sick, his sickness a symptom of a serious social disease,” until you thoroughly understand what it is he wants and how he expects to get it.
Privileged Souls in Danger.
Poor Marie Antoinette! The repose of her royal soul is not prayed for by the servants of God this year, because the Royalists are too poor to pay for the annual dose of divine mercy. And I regret to observe that somebody is in debt to an avaricious Almighty for so much of saving grace as he was induced, by the advice of the priests, to send down last year to the perturbed spirit of the murdered queen writhing there in purgatory. The Royalist papers had announced that the usual mass would be celebrated in Madeleine Church on the sixteenth of October, but the holy men refused to pray except for cash, and the service was omitted. Has it come to this, that an unpaid bill can bar the way of royalty to heaven? Privilege is in a bad plight when its upholders cannot squeeze out of the toilers enough money to buy from a priest a ticket to admit a good queen to heaven. Marie Antoinette was an honest believer in privilege and a good woman, but neither her divine right nor her personal purity entitles her to the friendly intercession of the church with the phantom head of the privileged class. She died believing that her soul would be treated with due consideration, but after nearly a hundred years have passed, the poverty of the descendants of her friends deprives her of the prayers which are considered necessary to secure the repose of her soul. Not a very cheering prospect for the upholders of privilege in these days. Suppose the proletariat should refuse to contribute any more to their support, as it surely will refuse some day, how would they get themselves out of the purgatory which they hold to be one of the comforting and beneficent features of the great scheme of salvation? What is to become of the alleged soul of Jay Gould when his millions shall have been scattered? He surely cannot expect anybody to pray for him except when liberally paid for the service.
One of the oldest and most prominent land reformers in the country writes to me: “I want to say that I appreciate Liberty particularly since the ‘Word’ has been devoted to a special literalism exposing ignorance of the very physiological laws it seeks to parade, and since the ‘Irish World’ has turned its back upon the Land Question to aid ‘a protective tariff’ and the domination of a corrupt political party.”
Maintain Order, But Repel Invasion.
- Healy of San Francisco having asked Dr. J. H. Swain of Encinitos, California, what is to be done in the absence of authority when one man assails another, the latter makes public reply as follows through these columns:
Anarchists do not accept the doctrine that you ought to turn one cheek when the other is struck. No. If under Liberty one person assails another, that other’s liberty is infringed upon, and such a one may repel the invasion, either singly or by the aid of society, as is the custom now. But that has nothing to do with the abolition of government, which is not the invasion of one man’s liberty by another, but of the liberty of all by a combination of robbers and murderers called the State. We are not combating order or organization so long as it is not compulsory, so long as no one’s liberty is abridged. Under Liberty all that wish to be governed, or such as desire to be enslaved, will not be interfered with, but they must not force others to join in such action. It is not supposable that sane men would do either of these with society around them in a state of freedom. How long could the slaves have been held in bondage without the use of brute force. No longer can men be held in subjection to the State except by compulsion. Maintaining public order is one thing. Maintaining the State is another and very different thing. The first is not only possible under Anarchy, it is impossible without it, as is shown under government every day and more emphatically when riots occur. Under Liberty a mob, which is one party striving for the power held by another, would be impossible. To deny this is to show ignorance of the whole matter. All government is pure usurpation, since it began and has continued through all its changes by one part of the people compelling the other part to submit to their authority. To determine which party shall control the other we have recourse to the ballot,— a game of chance dishonestly played, but behind whichever party wins, by whatever fraud, is the army to awe and, if need be, murder the others into submission.
We hold that no party has a right to fight or gamble with Liberty for a stake. They may fight or gamble for power over each other so long as they do it at their own expense, but not at the cost of others or of one other, or, as Mill states it, they may do whatsoever seems to them best so long as they do not interfere with others doing the same. So, when each does what seems to him best, no one is compelled to act as another or others think best. This is Liberty, or Anarchy, from which by necessity will grow the highest form of society, a public order as perfect as the times will admit of and in comparison with which all so called public order is organized disorder and society a menagerie in which personal conduct is moral when the brutes submit to bars and chains because compelled to do so by a stronger and more intelligent brute. Because of this, submission to authority is the test and standard of morality of Church and State and all their adherents. I have declared that morality is a mental drug with which authority stupefies its subjects that it may the more safely plunder them. Morality is then an invisible weapon, but the most potent of all wielded by robbers and murderers.
Ethics of the Unknowable:
Or, an Infidel’s Confession of Faith.
It is the principle, Faith, that is in question here, not the belief in any special doctrine or body of doctrines, in any special Being or generalization of beings. Such Faith is the interior, unspoken tendency of action, more powerful than interest or sentiment in the ordinary sense of these words as applying to visible things or persons, and intimately blended with character, of which it may be called the conscience. As such, however, it must not be confounded with that superficial conscience, the result of education, and which judges acts conventionally. Faith, such as I conceive it, is, perhaps, hereditary, yet has nothing to do with the creeds of one’s forefathers, Hebrew, Christian, Islamite, etc.
The evidence of the unseen is a phrase quite congenial to this Faith principle, without being a sufficient definition of it. Illustrations abound. The prominent unbelievers of the world today, those who have left all creeds behind them, are foe most earnest, the boldest, the most loving, the most loyal of altruists. The Faith that enables them to rise above considerations of safety, ease, and luxury, to work for a principle regardless of persons, to face death cheerfully without belief in heavens or hells outside of their own conscience; the necessity of self-respect to be true to one’s own lendings of character, though they isolate from friends, lovers, parents, children, fortune, and reputation,— such is the Faith possible to Infidels. Such is the Faiths efficient to itself in isolation,— Faith not to be professed, and only to be proven by living it,— that constitutes the basis of our faith in each other, the necessary basis of consistent social action, of true conspiration; faith of the Nihilist, faith of the Anarchist; faith whose affirmation tyranny compels to the form of negation; nisus of Liberty, conscious of wings, to burst its pupa envelope of creeds and governments.
Then and Now.
Some Opinions on Elections.
Boston, November 8, 2O84.
My Dear Louise:
The political campaign which had just begun when I left you is, of course, all over now. How foolish for me to make such a remark when I have a history in my hand which tells all about that campaign and the result. I am sorry, of course, that Mr. Edmunds could not have been elected; but I presume you are perfectly willing to submit to the will of the majority,— the majority of those who voted, I mean.
I have been discussing the politics of your time with Mr. De Demain during the last few days, and some of these discussions have been very warm on both sides, I can assure you. Of course, as you may imagine, he thinks the whole thing a farce from beginning to end. One who does not believe in the State, in presidents and congresses, and who does not believe in the ballot, would be very unlikely to look upon a presidential campaign with any favor
I tell him I think it a grand and noble spectacle,— two men who have risen from the people contesting to see which shall direct the policy of their country. He, however, argues like this:
“A certain number of people, always a minority, meet, and a part of these name three or four men to represent them in another meeting, which selects one man — and he may be selected by a minority — to represent them in another meeting, a majority of which names a man to be voted for by a certain number of men from each state, who are to be chosen by a plurality — often a minority — of the legal voters of the state. It may be often the case that such a man elected to the presidency is the choice of not one-tenth part even of those who vote for him. When Mr. Arthur took the oath of office after the death of Mr. Garfield, it was probably not desired by one million people out of the fifty millions in the country that he be president. That is, if each of all the adults in the United States had written on a slip of paper the name of the man he desired for president, Mr. Arthur’s name would not have been upon one million of them. I doubt if it would have been upon one hundred thousand.
“Perhaps the government of the United States was the best the world ever knew. I am inclined to think that it was. I think the people who lived under it were more prosperous and more happy and more moral than those under any other system which had been tried at that time. Comparing it with the government of Russia, it was grand. Comparing it with Anarchy it was a tyrannical, cheating master. One-tenth — and often less — of the adult population of the country controlled the government in a manner contrary to the best judgment and the wishes of the individuals composing the other nine-tenths. And still these same individuals comforted themselves with the idea that they were running the whole machine of state. They complained about business depression, about the tariff, about the laws that were passed and that were not passed, and they swore roundly at congresses, and the president and his cabinet, and all government officials, from the heads of departments down. And still every one of the growlers — and they did not growl without cause — would tell you that the ballot was a sure remedy. Not one instance could they name when it had effected a cure for the hundreds of ills of which they complained, but still they put faith in it. They could not see, for some strange reason, that the ballot was the cause of most of their ills, as it puts into the hands of a few designing,— or if not designing, ignorant,— men the power to advance their selfish aims or foolish whims. And even if it accomplished all that was claimed for it,— giving the majority the power to rule the minority,— its result must have been tyranny.
“Under the ballot there was no right but the right of might, and no justice but for that part of the people which called itself the majority. Why, the minority was allowed to exist at all only at the pleasure of the majority!
“You are well aware that more than four-fifths of the people of the United States two centuries ago proclaimed openly that they thought a political campaign a very shallow, nasty thing. But they were so shortsighted that they looked upon such things as necessities. They knew well that more than half the time bribery and lying combined carried an election. But they were willing to abide by the result. They knew it was possible often for an insignificant third party, made up of political tricksters and cranks, to carry an election one way or the other. But they submitted to all this, and comforted themselves with the old saying: ‘The voice of the people is the voice of God.’ They knew full well that at best they did not get at the voice of the people, but they put lots of faith in God. They must have, or they would not have allowed such men to rule them as were named by the ballots.
“Those who howled against the socialists, on the ground that, if allowed, they would make private property public, went to the polls and did this very thing themselves. One hundred men, who did not, all together, own one thousand dollars’ worth of property, could vote to tax ninety-nine other men, who, all together, might own one hundred millions, eighteen or twenty dollars on a thousand. You may not call this robbery; I do. The ballot in the hands of the voter was a worse weapon than the revolver in the hands of the highwayman. The latter simply used his weapon to get his victim’s money; the former used his to get his victim’s money, his privileges, his happiness, and often his life.”
Mr. De Demain continued at length in this strain, but all his arguments could not convince me that the United States did not owe its prosperity, its greatness, and its freedom to its system of balloting for rulers. But he is to continue his conversation soon on this subject, and he may bring out some points that will interest you. If so, I will write them.
An Open Letter to the Radical Review.
With a view to unison on the subject of that power to which, willingly or unwillingly, we are all subjects,— Government,— I propose to abstractionize a little, and, by the abstraction of adventitious matters, to dig down to the roots of our faiths. Thus we may discover a common tap-root to branches of thought so divergent as Democracy and Anarchism appear in their actual tendencies.
The metaphysical formula under which Humanity is present to my conscience is a triune animic principle, consociate with a sensuous, itself complex; the former congeneric with imponderable forces, the latter with ponderable matter, and all terra-solar in their origin and ultimates.
The animic trine is Affective, Intellectual, and Ethical. These are three primordial passions, which in their evolution become facultative. The object of the affective is property in social sympathies; that of the intellectual, secondary in its order of evolution, is property in truth. The ethical passion, of tertiary evolution, and presupposing that of intelligent affections, tends essentially to justice in human relations, throwing beyond them a protective shadow over subordinate animality. Our individual intellects having the same essential appetite, a tendency to truth, and not being, as I may take for granted as regards our own persons, warped, polarized, or refracted by the cupidities of privilege, of government offices and favors on the sensuous plane, nor by personal attachments on the affective plane, it seems probable that the apparent difference between our views is due but to imperfect definitions.
Not religion, which is really nothing else than the ethical sentiment of loyalty, and not self-interest, whose satisfactions require associative harmony, but the Dictionary, or the perfidy of language, whose Babel curse continues, in each national idiom, still to compromise thought,— the Dictionary is the miscreative genius of human antagonisms. Now, I have not the pretension of the great “pantarch,” to alwatize the human race; but I have that of moralizing our dictionary a deux, or for a limited circle of sympathetic minds.
What is the radiant focus common to the rays of two stars that have but just set on the horizon of life, Carlyle and Emerson,— of Carlyle, the continuator of De Maistre, as the herald of Autocracy; of Emerson, the reincarnator of Jesus, as the herald of Anarchism?
The focus at which their rays blend is the natural ascendant of personal character and the spontaneous loyalty accruing to it. This is the origin, and the imprescriptible privilege, and the uncontested sphere of true government, in which we meet the order of Liberty and the liberties of Order. Orient yourself before this ideal focus. Now behold: is not your back turned towards the ugly phiz of Uncle Sam? Reacting indignant against old-world privileges, the dictionary seduced you by its gloss of equal rights in republican democracy; and how do you find it? Is there not the same discrepancy in the two hemispheres, and now as heretofore, between your ideal democracy and the flat-footed fact? There is one very simple criterion of the social influence or tendency of political formations; it is money, the general representative of values. Where do you find the greatest, the most rapid, the most facile accumulations of this privilege? Is it not in the United States and in British Australia,— countries in which the aristocratic models have undergone similar modifications, and which are foremost in pretension to democracy? Now remark that, under the natural limitations of personal acquaintanceship and influence of character over the conduct of our fellow beings, there can be no parity between the kind of government possible for circumscribed local autonomies such as crest the Pyrenees or the Alps, or cluster round the wells of some oasis in the desert, and the vast areas of our vague republic, so heterogeneous in races, in developments of character, and in local industries. The essential truth of government presupposes organizations of personal influence in local autonomies, which have as yet among us only the false representation of despotic capital in factories and other analogous exploitations. The industrial organization of townships is an essential preliminary to the generalization of really free governments. Ours is a monstrous theoretical abstraction of political idealism, superimposed on us, like the Czar and his bureaucracy upon Russia, and as arbitrary, without any regard to our local autonomies or their absence, and, whether elective or hereditary, alike a fungoid parasitic growth, whose amputation would touch no vital organ, though in and by its growth it starves or poisons all of them. Supposing even that common school education were universal, as in Switzerland and Prussia; supposing a system of management by which the names of parties voted for should be unknown to any but the voter, thus emancipating him from the immediate control of his employer; supposing proportional representation established on the principles so justly announced by Thomas Hare, promulgated by Stuart Mill, Simon Sterne, Simeon Stetson, Alfred Cridge, etc., and adopted for Denmark in 1855 by Androe, the minister of finance,— still I am sure that not one voter in a thousand could have such personal and practical acquaintance with the candidates he votes for or such control over their conduct as common sense would consider indispensable in ordinary business confidences. Yet the political issues are often more important than the properties we guard so carefully by legal contracts in addition to the favorable presumptions afforded by conduct and social position. Now, this sort of presumption is all that is possible in general politics, between voters and candidates, for the most intelligent voter could not foresee or grasp the questions that are liable to arise and to be voted on by every Congress; although but for the existence of Congresses, Parliaments, and other State legislatures, not one of these questions need trouble us. Slavery, for instance, or emancipation of negroes, would certainly have attained an easier and less disastrous solution if left to the natural evolution of personal or social forces, without national organization or representation. But for government intervention, every plantation would have stood on its own merits or fallen by its own defects, and wage labor is in the same case. Governments alone, by the privileges granted to capital and by placing the police and the army at its service, prevent labor from vindicating its rights.
Now, then, I leave you to dot the I’s and cross the T’s. Whether the ballot is or is not a feasible agency in determining transformations so complete as those which are, I trust, our common aim, is a question of subordinate expediency, on which I take no positive ground.
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.