“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.
“Show me a man that won’t abuse power, and I’ll show you one that won’t try to get it,” writes Dr. M. E. Lazarus to the Denver “Labor Enquirer.” There never was a truer aphorism. Liberty commends it to the consideration of all State Socialists.
I say, Messrs. Harman and Walker, editors of “Lucifer,” I wish you wouldn’t make absolutely every number of your paper so good and true and live and keen and consistently radical. You are making it uncomfortably hard for me to keep up with the procession. Before you came into the field, it was the easiest thing in the world to publish the best paper in the world, and I knew well enough that I was doing it, and was a very complacent and contented man. But, since your advent, you have kept me in a state of perpetual doubt and anxiety lest Liberty’s light be dimmed by Lucifer’s. In mercy’s name, let up a little, and give a toiling torch-bearer an occasional chance to recuperate.
A prominent prohibitionist and impudent jackanapes, one George Kempton of Sharon, Massachusetts, has sent a circular to the merchants and manufacturers of die state, urging them to sign an agreement not to employ any persons on or after January 1, 1885, who are not known or believed to be total abstainers from the use of alcoholic drinks, and to discharge any employes thereafter found to indulge in such stimulants. Several prominent employers have already signed this outrageous document. When labor, after the organization of credit, shall be able to procure capital with which to employ itself, there will be an end to these insults. Labor then, if it chooses to repay its employers in kind, may decide to discharge all employers whose morals and habits do not meet the standard set up by their men. Some curious things will happen when the tables are once turned.
Not long ago I attended a country court in company with a simple, hard-headed New Hampshire farmer. A deputy sheriff and half a dozen lawyers were present, and several litigants danced attendance and exhibited some acrimonious feeling. “We don’t have any of this over in our town,” said the farmer; “we haven’t got any lawyers or deputy sheriffs, and so out folks don’t get into much trouble. When they do have any disagreements, they settle things between themselves and nobody hears of it.” And yet when an Anarchist says the world could get along better without legislation, lawyers, and authority, most men solemnly declare that in the absence of these things every man’s hand would be raised against his neighbor and violence would reign supreme. The farmers in that little New Hampshire town respect each other’s rights because every man of them knows that his own security and comfort depend upon the security of others. But let the possibility of the abolition of government be specifically stated to them, and they will declare that statutes and sheriffs are necessary to restrain other people from doing wrong. It is always the other man wise cannot be trusted to do right.
I cannot speak too highly of “Edgeworth’s” review in another column of General M. M. Trumbull’s new book in defence of free trade. For a just cause, that of the anti-custom-house reformer is the pettiest that I know of in proportion to the importance that is claimed for it. The protective tariff is a trivial tax so long as that giant tax, Usury, is allowed to exist. For the peculiarity of the latter is that it has no definite measure like other taxes, but has an unlimited capacity and devours all that is left of the laborer’s earnings after a certain point. If the tariff duties should be lifted, the amount thereby saved to consumers would straightway be absorbed by the usurer and exploiter of labor, who would be able to exact his additional toll all the more easily in consequence of the large supply of labor thrown upon the market by the prostration of certain industries. Monopolies and tyrannies sometimes serve to check each other. Such is the effect of the protective tariff upon the banking privilege. The most fatal restriction upon trade now existing is the monopoly of the issue of money, the fountain-head of all tyrannies in these plutocratic days, and that is where Liberty, more in favor of free trade than the free traders, must strike first to strike effectively. Free money first, and all the other freedoms shall be added unto it.
Some nincompoop, writing to the Detroit “Spectator” in opposition to cheap money, says: “If low interest insured high wages, during times of business depression wages would be high, for then interest reaches its minimum.” Another man unable to see below the surface of things and distinguish association from causation! The friends of cheap money do not claim that low interest insures high wages. What they claim is that free competition in currency-issuing and the consequent activity of capital insure both low interest and high wages. They do not deny that low interest sometimes results from other causes and unaccompanied by any increase in wages. When the money monopolists through their privilege have bled the producers nearly all they can, hard times set in, business becomes very insecure, no one dares to venture in new directions or proceed much further in old directions, there is no demand for capital, and therefore interest falls: but, there being a decrease in the volume of business, wages fall also. Suppose, now, that great leveller, bankruptcy, steps in to wipe out all existing claims, and economic life begins over again under a system of free banking. What happens then? All capital is at once made available by the abundance of the currency, and the supply is so great that interest is kept very low; but, confidence being restored and the way being clear for all sorts of new enterprises, there is also a great demand for capital, and the consequent increase in the volume of business causes wages to rise to a very high point. When people are afraid to borrow, interest is low and wages are low; when people are anxious to borrow, but can find only a very little available capital in the market, interest is high and wages are low; when people are both anxious to borrow and can readily do so, interest is low and wages are high, the only exception being that, when from some special cause labor is extraordinarily productive (as was the case in the early days of California), interest temporarily is high also.
[Translated from the German of Ferdinand Freiligrath by Ernest Jones.]
And tho’ ye caught your noble prey within your hangman’s sordid thrall, And tho’ your captive was led forth beneath your city’s rampart wall; And tho’ the grass lies o’er her green, where at the morning’s early red The peasant girl brings funeral wreaths — I tell you still — She Is not dead!
And tho’ from off the lofty brow ye cut the ringlets flowing long, And tho’ ye mated her amid the thieves and murderers’ hideous throng, And tho’ ye gave her felon fare — bade felon garb her livery be, And tho’ ye act the oakum-task — I tell you all — She still is free!
And tho’ compelled to bunishment, ye hunt her down thro’ endless lauds; And tho’ she seeks a foreign hearth, and silent ’mid its ashes stands; And tho’ she bathes her wounded feel, where foreign streams seek foreign seas, Yet — yet — she never more will hang her harp on Isabel’s willow trees!
Ah no! she strikes its every string, and bids their loud defiance swell, And us she mocked your scaffold erst, she mocks your banishment as well. She sings a song that starts you up astounded from your slumbrous seats. Until your heart — your craven heart — your traitor heart — with terror beats!
No song of plaint, no song of sighs for those who perished unsubdued, Nor yet a song of irony at wrong’s fantastic interlude — The beggar’s opera that ye try to drag out thro’ its lingering scenes, Tho’ moth-eaten the purple be that decks your tinsel kings and queens.
Oh, no! the song those waters hear it not of sorrow, nor dismay — ’Tis triumph song — victorious song — the paean of the future’s day — The future — distant now no more — her prophet voice is sounding free, As well as once your Godhead spake: — I was, I am, and I will be!
Will be — and lead the nations on the last of all your hosts to meet, And on your necks, your heads, your crowns, I’ll plant my strong, resistless feet! Avenger, Liberator, Judge,— red battles on my pathway hurled, I stretch forth my almighty arm, till it revivifies the world.
You see me only in your cells; ye see me only in the grave; Ye see me only wandering lone, beside the exile’s sullen wave: — Ye fools! Do I not also live where you have tried to pierce in vain? Rests not a nook for me to dwell in every heart and every brain? —
In every brow that boldly thinks, erect with manhood’s honest pride — Does not each bosom shelter me that beats with honor’s generous tide? Not every workshop, brooding woe? not every hut that harbors grief? Ha! Am I not the Breath of Life, that pants and struggles for relief?
’Tis therefore I will be — and lead the peoples yet your hosts to meet, And on your necks — your heads — your crowns — will plant my strong, restsless feet! It is no boast — it is no threat — thus History’s Iron law decrees — The day grows hot — oh Babylon! ’Tis soot beneath thy willow trees!
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. 54.
The struggle between the Macedonians and Greeks, and, before that, the disputes of the Greek commonwealths among themselves, for an unprofitable superiority, form one of the bloodiest scenes in history. One is astonished how such a small spot could furnish men sufficient to sacrifice to the pitiful ambition of possessing five or six thousand more acres, or two or three more villages; yet, to see the acrimony and bitterness with which this was dis rated between the Athenians and Lacedaemonians: what armies cut off; what leets sunk, and burnt; what a number of cities sacked, and their inhabitants slaughtered, and captived; one would be induced to believe the decision of the fate of mankind, at least, depended upon it! But these disputes ended, as all such ever have done, and ever will do, in a real weakness of all parties; a momentary shadow and dream of power in some one; and the subjection of all to the yoke of a stranger, who knows how to profit, of their divisions. This at least was the case of the Greeks; and surely, from the earliest accounts of them to their absorption into the Roman empire, we cannot judge that their intestine divisions, and their foreign wars, consumed less than three millions of their inhabitants.
What an Aceldama, what a field of blood, Sicily has been in ancient times, whilst the mode of its government was controverted between the republican and tyrannical parties, and the possession struggled for by the natives, the Greeks, the Carthaginians, and the Romans, your Lordship will easily recollect. You will remember the total destruction of such bodies as an army of three hundred thousand men. You will find every page of its history dyed in blood, and blotted and confounded by tumults, rebellions, massacres, assassinations, proscriptions, and a series of horror beyond the histories, perhaps, of any other nation in the world; though the histories of all nations are made up of similar matter. I once more excuse myself in point of exactness for want of books; but I shall estimate the slaughters in this island but at two millions, which your Lordship will find much short of the reality.
Let us pass by the wars, and the consequences of them, which wasted Grecia-Magna before the Roman power prevailed in that part of Italy. They are, perhaps, exaggerated; therefore I shall only rate them at one million. Let us hasten to open that great scene which establishes the Roman Empire and forms the grand catastrophe of the ancient drama. This empire, whilst in its infancy, began by an effusion of human blood scarcely credible. The neighboring little states teemed for new destruction: the Sabines, the Samnites, the AEqui, the Volsei, the Hetrurians were broken by a series of slaughters which had no interruption for some hundreds of years; slaughters which, upon all sides, consumed more than two millions of the wretched people. The Gauls, rushing into Italy about this time, added the total destruction of their own armies to those of the ancient inhabitants. In short, it were hardly possible to conceive a more horrid and bloody picture, if that the Punic wars that ensued soon after did not present one that far exceeds it. Here we find that climax of devastation and ruin which seemed to shake the whole earth. The extent of this war, which vexed so many nations, and both elements, and the havoc of the human species caused in both, really astonishes beyond expression, when it is nakedly considered, and those matters which are apt to divert our attention from it, the characters, actions, and designs of the persons concerned, are not taken into the account. These wars, I mean those called the Punic wars, could not have stood the human race in less than three millions of the species. And yet this forms but a part only, and a very small part, of the havoc caused by the Roman ambition. The war with Mithridates was very little less bloody; that prince cut off, at one stroke, one hundred and fifty thousand Romans by a massacre. In that war Sylla destroyed three hundred thousand men at Cheronea. He defeated Mithridates’s army under Dorilaus, and slew three hundred thousand. This prince lost another three hundred thousand before Cyzieum. In the course of the war he had innumerable other losses; and, having many intervals of success, he revenged them severely. He was at last totally overthrown; and he crushed to pieces the king of Armenia, his ally, by the greatness of his ruin. All who had connections with him shared the same fate. The merciless genius of Sylla had its full scope; and the streets of Athens were not the only ones which ran with blood. At this period the sword, glutted with foreign slaughter, turned its edge upon the bowels of the Roman republic itself, and presented a scene of cruelties and treasons enough almost to obliterate the memory of all the external devastations. I intended, my Lord, to have proceeded in a sort of method in estimating the numbers of mankind cut off in these wars which we have on record; but I am obliged to alter my design. Such a tragical uniformity of havoc and murder would disgust your Lordship as much as it would me; and I confess I already feel my eyes ache by keeping them so long intent on so bloody a prospect. I shall observe little on the Servile, the Social, the Gallic, and Spanish wars; nor upon those with Jugurtha, nor Antiochus, nor many others equally important, and carried on with equal fury. The butcheries of Julius Caesar alone are calculated by somebody else; the numbers he has been the means of destroying have been reckoned at one million two hundred thousand. But to give your Lordship an idea that may serve as a standard by which to measure, in some degree, the others,— you will turn your eyes on Judea, a very inconsiderable spot of the earth in itself, though ennobled by the singular events which had their rise in that country.
This spot happened, it matters not here by what means, to become at several times extremely populous, and to supply men for slaughters scarcely credible, if other well-known and well-attested ones had not given them a color. The first settling of the Jews here was attended by all almost entire extirpation of all the former inhabitants. Their own civil wars, and those with their petty neighbors, consumed vast multitudes almost every year for several centuries; and the irruptions of the kings of Babylon and Assyria made immense ravages. Yet we have their history but partially, in an indistinct, confused manner; so that I shall only throw the strong point of light upon that part which coincides with Roman history, and of that part only on the point of time whan they received the great and final stroke which made them no more a nation; a stroke which is allowed to have cut off little less than two millions of that people. I say nothing of the loppings made from that stock whilst it stood; nor from the suckers that grew out of the old root ever since. But if, in this inconsiderable part of the globe, such a carnage has been made in two or three short reigns, and that this great carnage, great as it is, makes but a minute part of what the histories of that people inform us they suffered, what shall we judge of countries more extended, and which have waged wars by far more considerable?
Instances of this sort compose the uniform of history. But there have been periods when no less than universal destruction to the race of mankind seems to have been threatened. Such was that when the Goths, the Vandals, and the Huns poured into Gard, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Africa, carrying destruction before them as they advanced, and leaving horrid deserts every way behind them. Vastum ubigue silentium, secreti colles; fumantia procul lecla; nemo exploratoribus obvius, is what Tacitus calls facies victoria. It is always so; but was here emphatically so. From the north proceeded the swarms of Goths, Vandals, Huns, Ostrogoths, who ran towards the south, into Africa itself, which suffered as all to the north had done. About this time another torrent of barbarians, animated by the same fury, and encouraged by the same success, poured out of the south, and ravaged all to the north-east and west, to the remotest parts of Persia on one hand, and to the banks of the Loire, or farther, on the other; destroying all the proud and curious monuments of human art, that, not even the memory might seem to survive of the former inhabitants. What has been done since, and what will continue to be done while the same inducements to war continue, I shall not dwell upon. I shall only in one word mention the horrid effects of bigotry and avarice, in the conquest of Spanish America; a conquest, on a low estimation, effected by the murder of ten millions of the species. I shall draw to a conclusion of this part by making a general calculation of the whole. I think I have actually mentioned above thirty-six millions. I have not particularized any more. I do not pretend to exactness; therefore, for the sake of a general view, I shall lay together all those actually slain in battles, or who have perished in a no less miserable manner by the other destructive consequences of war from the beginning of the war to this day, in the four parts of it, at a thousand times as much; no exaggerated calculation, allowing for time and extent. We have not, perhaps, spoke of the five-hundredth part; I am sure I have not of what is actually ascertained in history; but how much of these butcheries are only expressed in generals, what part of time history has never reached, and what vast spaces of the habitable globe it has not embraced, I need not mention to your Lordship. I need not enlarge on those torrents of silent and inglorious blood which have glutted the thirsty sands of Africa, or discolored the polar snow, or fed the savage forests of America for so many ages of continual war. Shall I, to justify my calculations from the charge of extravagance, add to the account those skirmishes which happen in all wars, without being singly of sufficient dignity in mischief to merit a place in history, but which by their frequency compensate for this comparative innocence; shall I inflame the account by those general massacres which have devoured whole cities and nations; those wasting pestilences, those consuming famines, and all those furies that follow in the train of war? I have no need to exaggerate; and I have purposely avoided a parade of eloquence on this occasion. I should despise it upon any occasion; else in mentioning these slaughters it is obvious how much the whole might be heightened by an affecting description of the horrors that attend the wasting of kingdoms and sacking of cities. But I do not write to the vulgar, nor to that which only governs the vulgar — their passions. I go upon a naked and moderate calculation, just enough, without a pedantical exactness, to give your Lordship some feeling of the effects of political society. I charge the whole of these effects on political society. I avow the charge, and I shall presently make it good to your Lordship’s satisfaction. The numbers I particularized are about thirty-six millions. Besides those killed in battles I have said something, not half what the matter would have justified; but something I have said concerning the consequences of war, even more dreadful than that monstrous carnage itself, which shocks our humanity, and almost staggers our belief. So that, allowing me in my exuberance one way for my deficiencies in the other, you will find me not unreasonable. I think the numbers of men now upon earth are computed at five hundred millions at the most. Here the slaughter of mankind, on what you will call a small calculation, amounts to upwards of seventy times the number of souls this day on the globe,— a point which may furnish matter of reflection to one less inclined to draw consequences than your Lordship.
I now come to show that political society is justly chargeable with much the greatest part of this destruction of the species. To give the fairest play to every side of the question, I will own that there is a haughtiness and fierceness in human nature, which will cause innumerable broils, place men in what situation you please; but, owning this, I still insist in charging it to political regulations that these broils are so frequent, so cruel, and attended with consequences so deplorable. In a state of nature, it had been impossible to find a number of men, yet the means that simple nature has supplied them with are by no means adequate to such an end; many scratch as, many bruises, undoubtedly, would be received upon all hands; but only a few, a very few deaths. Society and politics, which have given us these destructive views, have given us also the means of satisfying them. From the earliest dawnings of policy to this day, the inventions of men have been sharpening and improving the mystery of murder, from the first rude essays of clubs and stones, to the present perfection of gunnery, cannoneering, bombarding, mining, and all these species of artificial, learned and refined cruelty, in which we are now so expert, and which make a principal part of what politicians have taught us to believe is our principal glory.
How far mere nature would have carried us, we may judge by the example of those animals who still follow her laws, and even of those to whom she has given dispositions more fierce, and arms more terrible, than ever she intended we should use. It is an incontestable truth that there is more havoc made in one year by men of men, than has been made by all the lions, tigers, panthers, ounces, leopards, hyenas, rhinoceroses, elephants, bears, and wolves, upon their several species, since the beginning of the world; though these agree ill enough with each other, and have a much greater proportion of rage and fury in their composition than we have. But with respect to you, ye legislators, ye civilizers of mankind! ye Orpheuses, Moseses, Minoses, Solons, Theseuses, Lycurgueses, Numas! with respect to you, be it spoken, your regulation have done more mischief in cold blood, than all the rage of the fiercest animals in their greatest terrors, or furies, has ever done, or ever could do!
These evils are not accidental. Whoever will take the pains to consider the nature of society, will find they result directly from its constitution, For as subordination, or in other words, the reciprocation of tyranny and slavery, is requisite to support these societies; the interest, the ambition, the malice, or the revenge — nay, even the whim and caprice of one ruling mail among them, is enough to arm all the rest, without any private views of their own, to the worst and blackest purposes; and, what is at once lamentable and ridiculous, these wretches engage under those banners with a fury greater than if they were animated by revenge for their own proper wrongs.
It is no less worth observing that this artificial division of mankind into separate societies is a perpetual source in itself of hatred and dissension among them. The names which distinguish them are enough to blow up hatred and rage. Examine history; consult present experience; and you will find that far the greater part of the quarrels between several nations had scarce any other occasion than that these nations were different combinations of people, and called by different names; to an Englishman, the name of a Frenchman, a Spaniard, an Italian, much more a Turk, or a Tartar, raises of course ideas of hatred and contempt. If you would inspire this compatriot of ours with pity, or regard, for one of these, would you not hide that distinction? You would not pray him to compassionate the poor Frenchman, or the unhappy German. Far from it; you would speak of him as a foreigner; an accident to which all are liable. You would represent him as a man; one partaking with us of the same common nature, and subject to the same law. There is something so averse from our own nature in these artificial political distinctions that we need no other trumpet to kindle us to war and destruction. But there is something so benign and healing in the general voice of humanity, that maugre all our regulations to prevent it, the simple name of man, applied properly, never fails to work a salutary effect.
[To be continued.]
What’s To Be Done?
By N. G. Tchernychewsky.
Translated by Benj. R. Tucker.
Continued from No. 54.
Two days afterward, at the breakfast table, Véra Pavlovna told her husband that he had a bad color. He answered that that night he had not slept very well, and had been feeling badly since the previous evening; but that it was nothing; he had taken a little cold on the excursion, especially while lying on the ground after the racing and wrestling; he acknowledged that he had been a little imprudent, but convinced Véra Pavlovna that it was nothing at all.
Then he went about his usual business, and at tea-time said that his indisposition had left him. But the next morning he was obliged to confess that he must remain a while in the house. Véra Pavlovna, very anxious, became seriously frightened, and urged Dmitry Serguéitch to send for a doctor “But I am a doctor myself, and can care for myself if need be; at present it is not necessary.”
But Véra Pavlovna insisted, and he wrote a note to Kirsanoff, in which he told him that his sickness was insignificant and that he called him only to please his wife.
Consequently Kirsanoff made no haste about coming. He remained at the hospital until dinner-time, and, when he reached the Lopoukhoffs, it was already after five o’clock.
“I did well, Alexander, in calling you,” said Lopoukhoff although there is no danger, and probably will be none, I have an inflammation of the lungs. I should certainly have cured myself without you, but care for me just the same. It is neeessary to ease my conscience: I am not a bachelor like you.”
They sounded each other’s chests for a long time, and both came to the conclusion that Lopoukhoffs lungs were really inflamed. There was no danger, and probably would be none, but this disease is always grave. The patient must keep his bed a dozen days.
Kirsanoff had to talk a long time to Véra Pavlovna to ease her mind. She finally was persuaded that they were not deceiving her; that the disease, in all probability, was not only not dangerous, but even quite light; only it was “in all probability,” and how many things happen against all probability! Kirsanoff came twice a day to see his patient: they both saw that the disease was not dangerous. On the morning of the fourth day Kirsanoff said to Véra Pavlovna: “Dmitry is getting on well: for the next three or four days he will be a little worse, after which his recovery will begin. But I wish to speak seriously to you of yourself; why do you not sleep nights? You are doing wrong. He has no need of a nurse, or of me. In acting in this way you are injuring yourself, and quite uselessly. At this very moment jour nerves are agitated.”
To all these arguments Véra Pavlovna answered:
“Never!” — Impossible!” Or else, “I should like to, but I cannot,” — that is, sleep nights and leave Lopoukhoff without a nurse.
At last she said: “But all that you are saying to me now he has already told me many times over, as you well know. Certainly I would have yielded to him rather than to you; therefore I cannot”
Against such an argument there was nothing to be said Kirsanoff shook his head and went away.
Coming back to his patient after nine in the evening, he remained by his side in company with Véra Pavlovna about half an hour; then he said:
“Now, Véra Pavlovna, go and rest. We both beg you to. I will spend the night here.”
Véra Pavlovna was much confused: she was half convinced that her presence all night by the bedside was not absolutely necessary. But then why does Kirsanoff, a busy man, remain? Who knows? No, her “darling” cannot be left alone; no one knows what might happen. He will want to drink, perhaps he will want some tea; but he is so considerate that he will refrain from asking for it; therefore it is necessary to remain by his side. But that Kirsanoff should spend the night there is out of the question; she will not allow it. Therefore she refused to go away, pretending that she was not very tired and that she had rested a great deal during the day.
“I beg you to go; I ask your pardon, but I absolutely pray you to.”
And Kirsanoff took her by the hand, and led her almost by force to her room.
“You really confuse me, Alexander.” said the sick man; “what a ridiculous role you play in remaining all night with a patient who does not need you! and yet I am much obliged to you, for I have never been able to induce her to get a nurse, since she fears to leave me alone; she cannot trust me to any one else.”
“If I did not see that she could not rest easy in trusting you to any other, you may be sure that I would not disturb my comfort. But now I hope that she is going to sleep, for I am a doctor and your friend besides.”
In fact, Véra Pavlovna had no sooner reached her bed than she threw herself upon it and went to sleep. Three sleepless nights alone would be nothing, and the hurry and worry alone would be nothing. But the hurry and worry and the three sleepless nights together, without any rest in the daytime, were really dangerous; forty-eight hours more of it, and she would have been more seriously sick than her husband.
Kirsanoff spent three nights with his patient; it tired him scarcely any, for he slept very tranquilly, only taking the precaution to lock the door that. Véra Pavlovna might not observe his negligence. She strongly suspected that he slept, but was made not at all uneasy thereby. He is a doctor, what, then, is there to fear? He knows when to sleep and when to go without it. She was ashamed at not having been able to calm herself sooner in order to no further disturb Kirsanoff. But in vain did she assure him that she would sleep even if he were not there; he did not believe her, and answered:
“It is your fault, Véra Pavlovna, and you must take the consequences. I have no confidence in you.”
Four days afterward she saw dearly that the sick man was almost cured: the most decisive proofs conquered her doubts That evening they played cards, three-handed. Lopoukhoff was no longer completely on his back, but in a halfsitting posture, and had regained the voice of a man in health. It was safe for Kirsanoff to suspend ids attentions, and he told them so.
“Alexander Matvéitch, why have you so completely forgotten me? With Dmitry you are on a good footing; he sees you often enough; but, as for you, you have not been to see us, it seems to me, for more than six months; and it has been so for years. Do you remember that at the beginning we were intimate friends?”
“Men change, Véra Pavlovna. And I do an enormous amount of work: I can boast of it. I visit nobody, for lack of time and will. I tire myself so from nine till five in the hospital that, when I go home, I can put on nothing but my dressing-gown. Friendship is good, but — do not be offended at what I am going to say — to lie in one’s dressing-gown, with a cigar between one’s lips, is better still.”
In fact, Kirsanoff, for more than two years, had not been a visitor at the Lopoukhoffs’. The reader has not noticed his name among their ordinary visitors, or even among their rare visitors; for a long time he had been the rarest of all.
The reader with the penetrating eye (I make this explanation only to the masculine reader: the feminine reader is intelligent enough to annoy an author with her penetration; therefore, let me say once for all, I do not explain myself to her; among masculine readers also there are some intelligent people; no more do I explain myself to these; but most masculine readers, among them nearly all men of letters and men who wield a pen, have the penetrating eye; with them it is always well to have an understanding),— well, the reader with the penetrating eye says: “I see where this is going to end; in Véra Pavlovna’s life a new romance is beginning, in which Kirsanoff is to play the principal role. I see even farther. Kirsanoff has long been in love with Véra Pavlovna, and that is why he has ceased to visit the Lopoukhoffs.” How facile your conception, O reader with the penetrating eye! As soon as something is told you, you note it on the instant, and glory in jour penetration. Accept my admiration, reader with the penetrating eye!
Thus in the history of Véra Pavlovna appears a new personage, and I should have to introduce him, had this not already been done. Whenever I spoke of Lopoukhoff, I set my wits to work to distinguish him from his intimate friend, and yet I could say almost nothing of him that I should not have to repeat in speaking of Kirsanoff. Yes, all that the reader with the penetrating eye will be able to divine of Kirsanoff’s character will be a repetition of what has been said about Lopoukhoff. Lopoukhoff was the son of a petit bourgeois: tolerably well-to-do for his station,— that is, generally having meat in his stchi; Kirsanoff was the son of a law copyist,— that is, of a man who often had no meat in his stchi. Lopoukhoff, from his earliest years, had earned his own living; Kirsanoff, at the age of twelve, began to aid his father in copying. As soon us he reached the fourth form at school he began to give lessons. Both paved their own way. without aids or acquaintances.
What kind of a man was Lopoukhoff? At school French had not been taught him. As for German, he had been taught just enough to enable him to decline der, die, das almost faultlessly. After entering the Academy he soon saw that with Russian alone one car not make much progress in science; he took a French-Russian dictionary and a few French books ready to his hand,— Telémaque, Madame de Genlis’s novels, a few numbers of our wise Revue Etrangére, not very attractive works,— he took these, amd, though a great lover of reading, said to himself: “I will not open a single Russian book until I am able to read French easily;” and he succeeded. With German he managed another way; he hired a bed in a room occupied by many German workingmen. The lodging was frightful, the Germans tiresome, the Academy a long way off, but nevertheless he slept there long enough to learn German.
With Kirsanoff it had been otherwise. He had learned German with books and a dictionary, as Lopoukhoff had learned French, and his French he acquired in still another way,— by means of a single book and no dictionary. The Gospel is a well-known book: he procured a copy of a Geneva translation of the New Testament; he read it eight times; the ninth time he understood it all,— he knew French.
What kind of a man was Lopoukhoff? This will show. One day in his much-worn uniform he was going along the Perspective Kamenno-Ostrovskv to give a lesson for fifty copecks two miles away from the Lyceum. He saw approaching him some one with an imposing air, evidently out for exercise, who marched straight upon him without turning aside; now, at that time Lopoukhoff had made this rule: “I turn aside first for nobody except women.” Their shoulders touched. The individual, half turning back, said: “Hog! Beast that you are!” and was about to continue in this tone, when Lopoukhoff quickly turning around, seized the individual around the waist and threw him into the gutter with great dexterity; then, standing over his adversary, he said to him: “Do not stir; else I will drag you into a muddier place yet” Two peasants passing saw and applauded; an officeholder passing saw, did not applaud, and confined himself to a half smile. Carriages passed, but their occupants could not see who was in the gutter. After remaining some time in this attitude, Lopoukhoff again took his man, not around the waist, but by the hand, aided him to rise, led him into the road, and said to him: “Ah, sir, what a misstep you made! I hope you have not hurt yourself? Allow me to wipe you off.” A peasant passing helped to wipe him, as did two petits bourgeois also passing: after the man was clean, each went his way.
To Kirsanoff a similar but somewhat different thing once happened. A certain lady had formed an idea of cataloguing the library which her husband, an admirer of Voltaire, had left her at his death twenty years before. Exactly why a catalogue became necessary after twenty years is not known. It was Kirsanoff who chanced to put himself at the disposition of the lady for her purpose, and they agreed on eighty roubles as the price; Kirsanoff worked for six weeks. Suddenly the lady changed her fancy and decided that the catalogue was useless; so she went into the library, and said:
“You have done enough; I have changed my mind: here is the pay for your work.” and she handed him ten roubles.
“I have already done, your ——— (he gave the lady her title), more than half of the work: of the seventeen cases I have copied ten.”
“Do you consider yourself badly paid? Nicolas, come here and talk to this gentleman.” Nicolas hurried to the scene.
“How dare you be rude to my mother?”
“But, my beardless boy (an expression without foundation on Kirsanoff’s part, Nicolas being about five years his elder), you would do well to understand the matter before expressing yourself.”
“Ho! there! my servants!” shouted Nicolas.
“Ah! your servants! I will teach you.” The lady gave a shrill scream and fainted, and Nicolas saw clearly that it was impossible for him to make any movement with his arms fastened against his sides by Kirsanoff’s right hand as if by a band of iron. Kirsanoff, after pulling his hair with his left hand, placed it at his throat and said:
“Do you see how easy it is for me to strangle you?”
He gave his throat a grip, and Nicolas saw that it was indeed very easy to strangle him. The grasp was loosened. Nicolas found that he could breathe, but was still at the mercy of his conqueror. To the Goliath’s who made their appearance Kirsanoff said:
“Slop there, or I will strangle him. Keep your distance, or I will strangle him.” Nicolas, at once comprehending the situation, made signals which meant:
“His reasoning is good.”
“Now, will you escort me, my dear, to the stairs?” said Kirsanoff, again addressing Nicolas though continuing to hold his arm around him. He went out into the hall and descended the stairs, the Goliaths looking at him in astonishment; on the last step, letting go his hold of Nicolas’s throat, he hurled him from him, and started for a hat store to buy a cap in place of that which he had left upon the battle-ground.
Well, then, are not these two men alike in character? All the prominent traits by which they are marked are traits, not of individuals, but of a type, so different from those you are accustomed to see, reader with the penetrating eye, that these general peculiarities hide from you their personal differences. These people are like a few Europeans scattered among the Chinese, whom the Chinese cannot distinguish from each other, seeing but one and the same nature, “barbarians with red hair and without manners.” In their eyes the French have “red hair” as well as the English. Now, the Chinese are right: compared to them all Europeans are as a single individual; not individuals, but representatives of a type and nothing more. None of them eat cockroaches or wood-lice; none of them out men up into little pieces; all alike drink brandy and wine made of grapes instead of rice; and even the common drink, tea, is prepared by the Europeans with sugar, and not without as the Chinese prepare it. It is the same with people of the type to which Lopoukhoff and Kirsanoff belonged: they seem identical to men who do not belong to this type. Each is bold and resolute, knowing what to do under all circumstances, and doing it with a strong arm when necessary. That is one side of their character. On the other side each is of irreproachable honesty, of honesty such that one cannot even ask concerning either: “Can this man be relied on fully and absolutely?” It is as clear as the air that they breathe; as long as those breasts heave, they will be warm and unshakeable; lay your head upon them boldly, it will rest there safely. These general traits are so prominent that they eclipse all individual peculiarities.
It is not long since this type was established in Russia. Formerly from time to time a few individuals shadowed it forth; but they were exceptions, and as such felt their isolation and weakness; hence their inertia, their ennui, their exaltation, their romanticism, their whimsicality; they could not possess the principal traits of this type,— tact, coolness, activity, all well balanced, the realization of common sense in action. They were really people of the some nature, but this nature had not yet developed itself into the condition of a type. This type, I repeat, has been established but a little while; I can remember when it did not exist, although I am not yet of mature age. I have not succeeded in becoming one of them, for I was not brought up in their time; consequently I can without scruple express my esteem for these new men, for unfortunately I do not glorify myself in saying of them: “These are excellent men.” Recently this type has been multiplying rapidly. It is born of an epoch; it is a sign of the times, and — must I say it? — it will disappear with the fast-flying epoch which produced it. Its life, new as it is, is fated to last but a short time.
We did not see these men six years ago; three years ago we despised them: and now — but it matters little what we think of them now; in a few years, in a very few years, we shall appeal to them: we shall say to them: “Save us!” and whatever they say then will be done by all. A few years more, perhaps even a few months, and we shall curse them; they will be driven from the scene amid hisses and insults. What matters it? You may drive them away, you may curse them,but they will be useful to you, and that will satisfy them. They will quit the scene, proud and modest, austere and good, as they ever were. Not one will remain upon the scene? Not one! How shall we live without them? None too well. But after them things will go on better than before. Many years will pass, and then men will say: “Since their day things have been better, but still they are bad.” And when they shall speak thus, that will mean that it is time for this type to be born again: it will reappear in a greater number of individuals under better forms, because goodness will then be plentier, and all that is now good will then be better. And so history will begin again in a new phase. And that will last until men say: “Now we are good,” and then there will be no longer any special type, for all men will be of this type, and it will be difficult for any one to understand that there ever was a time when it was regarded as special and not as the common nature of all mankind.
But just as to the Chinese Europeans seem to have the same faces and the same customs when contrasted with those of the Chinese, while in reality there is a much greater difference between Europeans than between Chinese, so it is with these modern men who seem to constitute but a single type. Individual diversity develops itself in more numerous differences, and they are more sharply distinguished from each other than are individuals of any other type. They include all sorts of people,— syoarites and stoics, the stern and the tender, in short, all varieties. But as the roost savage European is very gentle, the most cowardly very courageous, the most epicurean very moral compared with the Chinese, so it is with the new men, the most austere believe that man needs more comfort than others dream of for him; the most sensual are more rigid in their morality than the moralists found in the common run of men. But they have conceptions of their own in all these things; they view in a way wholly peculiar to themselves both morality and comfort, sensuality and virtue.
[To be continued.]
“A free man is one who enjoys the use of his reason and his faculties; who is neither blinded by passion, nor hindered or driven by oppression, nor deceived by erroneous opinions.” — Proudhon.
Reformers and “Protection.”
No question affords so fair a measure of the average gullibility of the people as that of Protection versus Free Trade. I can overlook the statement of the disgusted Vermont member of the National Republican committee affirming that the Committee spent one hundred thousand dollars in circulating obscene literature in Blaine’s behalf, since the dirty business on hand called for it. Such literature was not half so despicable as that put into circulation with the stealthy intent to convince working people that the only way to protect themselves lay in denying Liberty and fostering monopoly.
The ordinary day laborer is the victim of forced ignorance whom ingeniously, contrived sophistry, aided by noise and show, can easily capture. But what must we think of old land and currency reformers with strong leanings towards Anarchistic principles who yet remain so far back in the woods as to believe in “a moderate tariff for the protection of American labor?”
The integral essence of a tariff has nothing whatever to do with America as against foreign countries. Whan this government subsidizes national banks, it simply lays a protective tariff on all other bankers and on all other trade. Just in proportion as government in any way lays restrictions on free banking, there is a tariff indicted on all other classes in behalf of a class industry. What kind of intellectual suicide is the Greenbacker committing who advocates protection?
What is rent but simply a protective tariff forced upon the landless and houseless by government in order to artificially subsidize a class industry known as landlordism. What is the land reformer thinking of who denounces rent, and yet cries protection to American industry through an artificial tariff?
The whole sum total of usury is nothing more or less than a protective tariff levied upon the non-capitalist classes for the support of that mighty engine of robbery and oppression, capital. All usury has its simple root in vested monopoly of privilege granted and protected by the State, In the case of rent, interest, and profit in ordinary life the State first grants a monopoly of the means of life, exchange, and transportation to the capitalist, and then leaves him to collect the tariff himself out of all other classes, the ultimate burden of course sifting itself entirely upon the shoulders of labor. In the case of a special tariff, such as duties upon foreign goods, the State first collects its share of the steal from the capitalist, who makes himself whole out of the monopoly vested through a forced tax on all other classes, besides enriching himself to the extent of his power to extort upon those to whom Liberty is denied.
An honest man who can contemplate this gigantic conspiracy and yet aid and abet any part of it as “the protection of American labor” is to be pitied. The first tariff was imposed at the point where Liberty was first infringed upon all tariffs measure the extent to which Liberty has been forcibly denied. All tariffs are the blood-money paid for monopoly and unjust privilege, and labor ultimately has to settle the bill.
The spectacle of land, labor, and currency reformers encouraging this swindle of protection and helping inveigle it down the throats of innocent and defenceless children of toil and sorrow is a peculiarly painful one to me. If they will patiently pursue the study of Liberty, they can but finally see that in Liberty and in Liberty alone is true protection possible, and that all schemes of securing real protection by the forcible denial of Liberty through class discrimination are readily reduced to either partial insanity, blatant fraud, or covert blackmail.
Dr. Foote in Defence of His Politics.
Your criticism of a “friend of Liberty in New York” is appreciated by that friend, who now writes to state that be expressed himself rather hurriedly, but still thinks he meant about what he said. The action, written addresses, and public speeches of Butler seemed to mo to be a general protest against old parties and that sort of class legislation which favors the capitalists, monopolists, and corporate-ring-robbers of the Republican and Democratic parties. (1) Butler truly and frequently said to the working classes: “Whichever party wins, you never win”. (2) I hoped he would be able to open their eyes to the facts, and lead them to organize a party in behalf of their own interests. Many said a vote for Butler was a vote in the mud, and that suited me. Whether as voting merely to protest against the two great political parties, having like platforms and purposes, (3) and only different names and leaders, or voting to form a new party bound to consider and protect all interests, the vote for Butler suited me. But why vote at all? Were I a full-fledged disciple of Liberty, I should have left ballots alone, but I am free to confess that I am not wholly persuaded, and that as yet my mental condition on all governmental and sociological problems is quite hazy, with, however, a strong tendency toward the ideas for which Liberty is published. I am so constituted that it pleases me to support verbally and financially journals, principles, parties, and persons that I am not entirely in sympathy with (4). Were I to write my platform of beliefs and principles, so far as it is already formed, I might have to travel a long distance to find a dozen persons who would subscribe to it with me, (5) and knowing this I stand ready to give a helping hand to any person who in my opinion is helping forward a change for the hotter, or who stands for a new idea worthy of consideration. Therefore I lend what aid I can to The Liberal League, Heywood, The People’s Party of Equal Rights, and Liberty, the organ of Anarchy. I would even subscribe to the Young Men’s Christian Association if it were merely a benevolent, reading-room, and gymnastic institution instead of an aggressive and bigoted proselyting and persecuting organization.
I have said I have a liking for Anarchy as represented by Liberty, but I fall short of being a full-fledged disciple, in that I do not see the way clear to its practical solution, and I can no more understand or imagine the state of society on that new plan than I can make for myself a picture of Heaven, or a spirit-life. Nevertheless, with a belief in the principle or philosophy of Anarchy, I can hope to see it gradually followed out, so that we may feel our way and learn how to walk in the new paths of that undeveloped country. Is this to be accomplished by frowning upon the ballot, or by organizing a party which by means of the ballot shall obtain the power to repeal laws, curtail the sphere of government, and gradually reduce its function to the thinnest possible dimensions? (6) The war-cry of the People’s Party is “Equal Rights, (7) Equal Power, Equal Privileges for all the People,” and though their ideas of the ways and means of instituting such a state of affairs may be all wrong, I still think there would be more chance of converting the members of this party to Liberty’s mode of thought than of bringing over a Republican or Democrat. The mass of these parties consists of greedy politicians, scheming money-bags, and unthinking dupes, and those who have any principles or notions of government hold to conservative ideas. There is no field for Liberty among the people of these parties, and it will only find house-room and attentive readers amongst those who have sufficient independence and capacity to think and act for themselves,— many of whom have found themselves of late acting with the People’s Party, if only for want of something better (8).
On the question of finance, I have since my first vote been with the Greenbackers, being fully convinced that their system would be far better for the country than the present metallic-basis and national-bank system. Now I incline to Liberty’s ideas of free banking, but the possibility of establishing this system seems to me to be so very remote that in the mean time I would prefer to see the Greenback governmental monopoly system adopted, regarding it as the next best, and far better than the present.
Let me state one of the difficulties in the way of swallowing Anarchy whole. While meditating on a ferry-boat, I saw a cart being filled with ashes, to be taken away to a suitable place for dumping. It occurred to me that the boats formerly throw their ashes into the river; that this practice threatened to destroy the usefullnes of New York harbor, and that a law was passed forbidding it, thus protecting the harbor for generations to come. To me it seems a good law, one which benefits all without injuring any one, and I have I teen puzzling myself to find out bow such a good would be accomplished in Anarchy. If ninety-nine boat owners should agree to protect the harbor for mutual benefit, how could they prevent Mr. One Hundredthman from doing his own sweet will, und saving himself a little trouble and expense with the surety of making trouble and expense for others? Every now and then a practical snag of this kind turns up in the fair current of my Anarchislic philosophizing (9).
One word more about the ordinary mind, which you say “must be a very extraordinary thinking apparatus” if it would be less easily converted to Anarchy than a People’s Party Man. Yes, the ordinary mind is an extraordinary apparatus; it fails to think, and follows its leader or party. Is it not extraordinary that so many millions of ordinary minds could find it worth while to cast a ballot for Blaine or Cleveland, for the rotten hulks of Republicanism or Democracy? (10) A People’s Party man has at least learned to think for himself, and man worth reasoning with. He is not led by such arguments as torch-light processions, brag and bluster, to vote for the sake of being on what he expects may be the winning side (11). Yours truly,
- Foote, Jr.
New York, November 9, 1884.
(1) Things arts not always what they seem Butler’s action seemed to Dr. Foote to be a general protest against old parties; it proved to be a most ignominious sell-out to one of the old parties.
(2) And how much nearer victory are the Working classes now? Measured by the voting standard, much further from it than they were four years ago. The working classes will never win until the leaders and thinkers step boldly out upon the platform of the most advanced truth they see, and cease waiting for each other on grounds of policy.
(3) There is a stronger resemblance between the Republican and People’s parties than between the Republican and Democratic. The Republican and People’s parties are strictly parties of centralization; the Democratic party theoretically, and in some directions practically, is a party of decentralization.
(4) Liberty is glad to benefit by Dr. Foote’s catholic policy, but cannot understand it.
(5) That was Jesus’s experience.
(6) Ah! had the People’s party only been such! Whenever men organize politically for repeal, and repeal alone, Liberty is never found in their way. Certain Anarchists have even branded me as bourgeois for looking upon such a policy with too favorable an eye. But the politics of the People’s party was not of this negative sort; on the contrary, its platform was the most positive of all those before the people. Its principal object was to make new laws; it aimed to repeal but few, and those it generally wanted to replace by worse ones.
(7) Yes, that sort of equal rights where no man has any rights.
(8) To this it is sufficient answer to say that Liberty counts more recruits and more valuable recruits, five times over, from the Democratic party than from any other.
(9) Almost all snags of this kind present themselves only before the erroneous conception that to-day we have Authority and to-morrow we are to have Anarchy. Rome was not built in a day, and the sun will rise several times more before Anarchv is fully realized. It will be realized first where it is easiest and most important to realize it,— that is, in banking and commerce. Through these it will gradually exercise a remarkable influence upon the ways and tendencies, the mental and moral habits of all the people, and this revolution in human nature will then make it possible to regulate by Anarchistic methods all the matters in which interests are most involved.
(10) Indeed it is, but less extraordinary than that one who sees the folly of their course should deem it tho part of wisdom to vote for Butler.
(11) Thera are very few thinking men in the People’s party. Most of its members are men of generous sympathies who don’t know how to think. They lament the suffering caused by injustice and suppose the way to cure it is by statute. To them the harmonies of liberty are unknown and, for a long time yet, unknowable. Among these men Dr. Foote does not belong. He is “a politician in sight of haven.” Let him take Auberon Herbert for a pilot, and he will make the port.
A Senator’s “Crazy” Interlocutor.
“Thank God, I see no pinched faces hero in New England,” said Senator Hawley, a scurvy politician, at a meeting in Bridgeport. The God whom he thanked was a protective tariff, apparently, for he attributed the dearth of pinchod faces to protection. Or perhaps he intended to convey the idea that God built the custom houses. The lie was so palpable that a man in the hall, “carried away with emotion,” say the daily papers, cried out: “I have just come here from Fall River. There are ten thousand workmen there out of employment. Their families are literally starving. Talking about pinched faces”
And then two policemen seized this turbulent follow and dragged him out of the hall. “My children are there, too,” he said, and in desperation at the thought he knocked the policemen down.
A dangerous man, this father of starving children! He had the audacity to interrupt a senator, who is either a fool or a knave, and to disturb the harmony of a political meeting by telling the truth. So he and the truth wore flung out by the heels, neither of thorn being wanted by the knave on the platform or the stupid people on the floor. Politicians do not want to hear any talk about pinched faces and starving workmen. There is danger in such talk,— danger that it may set stupid voters thinking and show them what a quackery is the ballot-box cure for poverty.
“Crazed at the thought of the starving,” say the papers. Not so at all. Quite other than so, indeed. The man was very indignantly sane,— sane enough to know that what the political quack had said was utterly false; indignant enough to tell him so, and show the fools about him how they were being deceived. Such a man is dangerous; no doubt of that. Politicians, all manner of quacks, may well fear him, for when he shall have thought enough of the starving,— he and his kind,— he will be just crazy enough to swear that the toilers shall starve no longer; and then will come an end to political stumping and senatorships and protection and several other “blessings” of like nature.
General Trumbull’s New Book.*
This neat duodecimo from tho pen of a coeditor of the “Radical Review” has merits historical and political that render it more interesting than its subject might promise to Anarchists. Why so? Because there are but two points of view under which social politics may be regarded,— the theoretic and the practical.
Now, theoretically, the greater implies the less, and the whole the part. Free trade being a necessary consequence of Anarchy, an integrant principle of the general order of Liberty in reciprocity, argument in favor of it is like trying to prove the advantage of breathing.
But, practically, breathing is an advantage only when life it desirable, and under the oppression of our governments life becomes, for the disinherited sons and daughters of toil, a burden and a torture. England, by free trade, keeps a life more tormented than that of beasts of burden a greater number of victims than would be otherwise possible. Her national wealth (so called) is increased by free trade, but, as here tinder tariffs, the stream of Pactolus rolls its golden sands only between the banks of privilege.
In both countries alike, the same economic paradox of misery, increasing proportionably with the means of production and with actual production, writes its mene tekel upharsin on modern civilization.
Free trade, like machinery, like knowledge, like the culture of taste, like productive activity, or any other particular element of the economic order, is, while outside of that order, like the luscious grape that hangs before the eyes of Tantalus, but which ever eludes his grasp. Within the false order of our governments, imperial, constitutional, or republican, alike allied with capital, every promise of blessing becomes a curse in the fruition. Its apples are the pretty Sodom apples, mouthfuls of ashes.
But, allowing free trade were in itself and by itself a blessing, he who wants the end wants the means. England, compared with the United States, is a homogeneous unit. Her commercial and manufacturing interests are at one, and quite overrule her home agriculture. In the United States, on the contrary, It is pull Dick, pull Devil, among many rival interests. Every State, and within each several special industries,— i.e., several rings of capitalists,— claim protection through their representatives, each for its pet monopoly. Elect your Democratic champion of free trade to Congress, and he stands aghast before the elumorous pack of greedy hounds; he is fain to cotnfess with Virgil, Non mihi tantas cumponers lites! To reconcile such claims is a huckleberry above my persimon. And he skulks behind the pretext of a tariff for revenue, where General Trumbull offers him with sweet simplicity the hand of fellowship. What is a revenue tariff? It is the reason of existence for the United States government. It in feslh picked from the bones of the laborer by the vultures of bureaucracy. But for this sneaking theft, of which the custom house is the professional pickpoket, government must either collapse and become truly economical, or else collect tribute by armed force; and there are two to play that game. In republics meneuvred like ours by the ballot imagine the countenance of politicians promising to their constituents to fork out a few billions for the pleasure of killing their neighbors and burning their towns, as in 1861. How many wars would be waged, if the expenses were collected by direct taxation? To allow of indirect taxation, of a revenue tariff, is to give up the principle at stake; it is to surrender labor as a prey to government through its necessary consumption; it is inviting the vampire to suck your blood while you are asleep. In every pie are the thumbs of Government pulling out the plums. Every cup of coffee pays toll, and the tax collector is the pillar of the State.
The arguments cited in behalf of Free Trade are solid and irrefutable, but not so against protection as distinguished from revenue tariff. Cobden’s force consisted especially in the misplacement of the tariff on an article of prime necessity to the most numerous and poorest classes,— breadstuffs,— against which all other interests, not only the commercial and the manufacturing, but of agricultural laborers had gradually united. Although during past centuries there had been a general prejudice in favor of protective tariffs, and nearly all English industries had grown up under them, as children will grow in spite of swaddling hands, yet, at the actual crisis, they felt very well able to take care of themselves and to compete with other countries, if they only had cheap bread. English agriculture, on the contrary, could not pretend to rival the American in cheap production. Its natural limitations of area were narrowed by the large proportion needed for noblemen’s parks, hunting grounds, and sheep pastures, privileged luxuries which, since the Norman conquest, bad assumed unquestioned right of precedence over the necessaries of the tributary people. Its uniformity of climate exposed it to a general loss of crops, in seasons too rainy, ones of which, indeed, decided the fate of the corn laws. But, above all, half the produce, much or little, had to go into the landlord’s pocket; thus the alienation of the soil from the proprietorship of its cultivators left them hungry, as well as the factory operatives; and an empty belly is a great cleaner out of those brain cobwebs called prejudices. However numerous the interests then nominally protected by the English tariff, it bore so disproportionately and concentred profits so obviously upon the landed aristocracy that the corn laws became the natural representative, the head and front, of the whole system. Relatively to protection, this gave to the Anti Corn-Law League, as it were, the bearing of a conical wedge, which, once entered, lent a tremendous increment of force to every well-directed blow, such as Cobden and his staff knew how to strike. With these features, which render the buttle of the League an object lesson so picturesque, no parity exists in America. There is no one point, like bread, at which popular necessities concentrate Free Trade arguments, and, in default of reason, reach the senses, like the big Free Trade loaf and the little tariff loaf that the League bore on poles at the head of its procession. Under the immense misfortune of our Government, that fungus haematodes or crectile tumor on the social body fed by revenue, the special annoyances due to its protections are like deabites. Being equivalent to a world by our area and diversity of products, always abundant within easy transmutation by land or water, so long as no internal revenue, such as that on spirits, affects the comforts of life, we shall not suffer much from any duty on imports as a tax. Its application to the support of other oppressions and privileged monoplies, of which our Government is the mainstay, is the great evil. Were a tariff for revenue expedient, the more protective the better, provided it were confined to imports of luxury, so as to leave the consumption of the poor untaxed. The corn laws did just the contrary.
The workingman needs more food than the man of leisure, and, as breadstuffs, even at three times their natural market price, are still cheaper than any other food which sustains strength in the temperate zone, the poor were fleeced by the corn laws several times more than the rich, who consume mainly dainties in city life, or food of their own growth in the country. Cobden’s good argument that consumption and the briskness of trade depend on the ability to purchase, from which overtaxed labor is precluded, fits the fashionable luxuries to a nicety, for the class that buys them is best able to pay, and will have them at any price.
The strongest argument against protective tariffs seems to have escaped our author. It Is that they are premiums on smuggling. The smuggler, indeed, only vindicates the natural right of free trade; but, in order to frustrate him, government has to spend in its custom house service and revenue police about as much as the tax is worth.
In attaching himself to the Corn Lawn question, thus author finds it much easier to combat protection upon general principles than if he bad chosen some knotty problems in our American experience, such as the importation of foreign lanor or Chinese immigration. There are points in commerce which do not admit of a correct solution by a general yes or no, but in which each particular case requires discriminative judgment. This may hear on public health, as in quarantining vessels, but in case of leprosy quaranting alone in insufficient. Paupers are social invalids, yet we may discriminate in favor of the able-bodied. Certain peculiarities of faith constitute just motives for prohibition. A Roman Catholic, if sincere, Is liable to be an emissary of the Pope, planning the ruin of free institutions. A cargo of Thugs might introduce singular complications in our affairs. England herself objects to free trade in dynamite. All depends upon the point of view.
Again, we meet the principle of organic limitation in the formation of circuits between production and consumption. If a siege were contemplated, would not a city like Paris do well to stimulate the production of mushrooms in her catacombs by special privileges?
On general principles I object to taxation as distinguished from voluntary contribution, but in the actual state of affairs we must compromise with principles until generally educated up to them. To leave the scavenger service and the sewerage of cities to private voluntary action now would be to invoke pestilence. It might prove for the best eventually, but, in the meanwhile, it would cause a stampede of delicate noses and expel just the class who would be of no use in the country. Municipal authority existing, and the influence of wealth predominating, it seems a more practical wisdom to avail ourselves of these forces for expelling the poorest and most dangerous class, and by the very tax on real estate that would make it impossible for them to live in cities provide them with homes in the country.
General, do not halt at the half-way house down Mount Vesuvius during an eruption. Your Free Trade horse is a better riding beast than our Tariff ass, but, whichever takes the road, it is Capital that sits in the saddle, and Jordan is a hard road to travel for the footpads. You compare the prejudice against free trade in England with the prejudice of English working people against labor-saving machinery. Well, were they wrong in their apprehension of disaster from this powerful rival? I look to machinery as the probable redeemer of mankind from drudgeries and its consequent elevation in the scale of moral and intellectual culture. But this is just as if, a theologian, I should declare my faith in the salvation of the Devil. Bring the two culprits before the bar of Humanity, and I can much more certainly convict machinery of evil doing towards the poorer and more numerous classes than you can convict the gentleman with horns and cloven hoof. That machinery is guilty of high treason by conspiracy with capital, who can deny? The diabolic phase of machinery will last just as long as political government; but, once delivered from that curse, and free to arrange its economic relations, machinery, socialized by cooperative contractors, will present as different a moral character as the flower and fruit-laden branches of a tree do from its root. Free Trade and machinery are simply motors. You may attach motors to the car of Juggernaut. To crush the victim fanatics of State, to thresh wheat or weave cloth, that is indifferent to the motor. Justice, which, for human welfare, is in itself the Supreme good,— justice alone can make other powers work for good.
As in your editorial censures of the fools who make an idol of Jesus or the knaves who use him as a stalking horse in fighting the battles of privilege, you are apt to overlook his translation of the old divine authority into the spontaneous affection of elective affinity, so in your politics, consistently purblind, you combat the abuses of protection, the little fetiches of local privilege, while prostrating your reason before the great oppressor, Government, the incarnation of God in the State.
* The American Lesson of the Free Trage Struggle in England. By general M. M. Thumbull. Chicago: Schum & Simpson, 1884. pp 290.
Breast-Pin for Liberty.
The letter I. is in the shape of a key, and it is the first letter of Lock. Liberty unlocks the dungeon of Order. It is the key to the liberation of the People.
Don’t you think the young Lady can afford to wear a breastpin, now? In the supposed figure, the contour ofthe keyhole should be in relief on the face of the lock. Now a mere lock and key figure leaves rather too much to the sympathetic imagination of the readers, and we do not write to win the souls we already possess. The representation of a dungeon with its inmates seems too complex an affair for a motto or seal.
So here my idea halts on, the confines of two domains of Art — Vintrasigeant. Suppose you start it with an invitation to some more felicitous mind to complete it. For a picture, its ethical character might seduce the most Ambitious artist; but only genius inspired by the love of mankind could see this. The key will have a mystical halo, in which apt fancy may discover the contour of an Imogen, and in the landscape, on the left, behind this beatified key, should wave a cornfield with rows of fruit trees, or some index of that terra-solar harmony whence Liberty proceeded, and back to which she would conduct emancipated Man.
Then and Now.
The Ballot the Shield of Nineteenth-century Robbers.
Boston, November 22, 2084.
My Dear Louise:
On two or three occasions since my last letter was written Mr. De Demain has lectured me on the evils of the political system in vogue in your time. He gives as an illustration the fact that a few hundred voters in New York in the presidential election of 1884 throw the government of the country into the hands of the Democratic party,— not in reality a very serious matter, he says, but very much against the wishes of several millions of people.
In the course of our conversation I asked him the following question, which formed the basis for quite a long discussion:
“You believe, do you not, that the wealthy and so-called superior classes of the United States in the nineteenth century controlled in great measure the government of the country?”
“Yes,” replied Mr. De Demain, “I think that history pretty conclusively proves that.”
“But, two weeks ago, in a conversation you had with me, you stated that one of the faults of that government was the power given men without money to tax those who were rich. You called it robbery, I think.”
“Yes, it was a fault of the government, and was robbery — of the robbers. The wealthy and successful robbers were shrewd men. They gave the poor fellows who were constantly being robbed the ballot, and told them what a big thing it was, and what a splendid generosity it displayed on the part of the ‘superior’ classes. The poor dupes of working men were told in splendid oratorical efforts and brilliant grammatical articles that the great remedy for all the ills of the poor man was in his hands. When there was anything he did not like, he had only to trust in the ballot. He had the privilege of voting for any man or any measure he cared for. This looked on the face of it like a grand thing. The poor workers of the old world looked across on this side and heard the words of these fine-spoken gentlemen, and they came over to live in a country where they had only to ask for a thing to have it. For a great many years the ballot worked beautifully — for the superior classes. But the workers kept on digging in the earth and sowing seed, and reaping the harvest. You people had a big new country of vast resources, and it is not strange that you got rich,— that is, that the country got rich. The only strange thing about it was that the people didn’t get richer. For many years the laborers thought themselves pretty well-to-do. They — a good many of them — built themselves little houses and cleared up little farms, ana they blessed the ballot-box and the wise statesmen who formed laws for such a beautiful country. But after a time they began to think it very strange that they didn’t get any richer, while the country got to be more and more wealthy every day. Some began to suspect that, after all, it was not su much the ballot-box as it was their own industry and the native wealth of the new country that made it possible to own little houses and farms. And some even suspected that the good order of the country was not so much due to the fine system of government as it was to their own individual good behavior Later on they began to think that perhaps, after all, the ballot-box, instead of making them well-to-do, was making them poorer and making those who talked so much about its wonderful power richer.
“I said, I know, that it was robbery for the poor to tax the rich; this was one evil. But the robbery by ballot was not all on one side, and even if it had been all on the side of the poor, the injustice would not have been great, although the principle would have been wrong. It was this wrong principle that I wished to present to you.
“This ballot privilege was merely a sop thrown from the hand of the rich to the poor in order that sharp wits might keep in subjugation strong numbers.
“This robbing of the rich by the poor by means of taxation was more than offset by the robbing of the poor by the rich by the same means. The poor workers were never the ones who concocted the schemes of taxation; it was always the rich robbers with the sharp wits. The few rich robbers individually laid schemes to plunder each other and cut each other’s throats. They found time enough, while the workers were preparing their food and clothes and shelter and pretty trinkets, to sharpen their wits and lay schemes. The ballot in the hands of the workers was a very good means when by the rich and superior individuals could gain advantage over other rich and superior individuals. At the same time the ballots kept the general government in its regular course so that it was an easy matter for all rich individuals to rob the poor. Back in the earlier ages princes and kings gave their subjects bows and arrows and swords and small ships and sent them out to fight each other. The stronger in battle won honor for their king and members of his household, and for the same plundered the country of the weaker. They, themselves, the subjects, mostly got killed. Many of the survivors got their heads cut off when they returned, and the remainder didn’t get much of anything. Things were a little changed in your time. Names for things were changed principally. Instead of kings and princes were the wealthy classes, the superior classes, the statesmen, and instead of bows and arrows and swords ballots were used. The honor and plunder went the same way. The wielders of the ballots didn’t get killed, but they didn’t get anything else. Some of them, perhaps, did get two or three dollars or a few drinks ofcheap gin for their services, but they got nothing more,— no honor, no part of the plunder.”
“But,” said I, “you must acknowledge that the people had the power to use the ballot as they pleased.”
“Not exactly.” There were a good many restrictions. There was a tax and registration, and deputy marshals, and sharp-eyed employers, and supervisors, and several other minor things. But the mam thing was that the people did not know how to use the ballot to their own advantage. If they had, they would have balloted the ballot out of existence, and with it the government, the privileged classes, privileged monopolies, a privileged currency, subsidized railroads, and the thousand and one things by means of which they were daily being robbed. The people were dupes. If the keen-witted robbers had not understood this, the ballot would never have been put into the hands of the workers. It certainly took a more steady hand, a finer, sharper, clearer brain, to control a people by means of the ballott than it did by means of the sword, but it was done just as effectually. If Alexander III. and his princes and advisers had been smart enough, they could have ruled Russia just as firmly with the ballot in the hand of the people.”
What do you think of Mr. De Demain’s arguments?
The Dollar Instead of the Club.
To the Editor of Liberty:
I laid your bill aside when it came; end, after the old adage, “out of sight, out of mind,” it was forgotten until it occurred to me that it was about time for “Liberty” to make its appearance; and then I remembered that the “price of liberty was the eternal dollar.” This thing, the dollar, to my queer way of thinking, is civilisation’s substitute for the gnarled and knotted war-club of the savage. With the dollar, as with the club, every right is attacked and every one of them defended. It is the medium of exchange of all the products of industry as well as of all the natural sources of these products; and the world’s method of exchange, by bargain and sale, is the world’s field of universal warfare; and in this field every right is wrested from the weak and ignorant by the strong and cunning, from the astute court diplomatist, who would steal and enslave a nation, to the bullying vendor of old clothes to the most impoverished and cowering poor. If one has not the substitute, then the old club, not gnarled and knotted now, but turned and polished as is the tongue of deceit with civilization’s art, and in the hands of a skilled wielder, representing all brutality doubly distilled and refined, which says: “Produce the substitute for this brute force (the dollar), or ‘git.’” Get where? Into your grave, of course, you fool. Rights disappeared from the world long ago, when the governments were instituted; since then there have been nothing but privileges; and these must be paid for. How came the governments in the first instance? Was it the disrespect for the natural rights which made the combination of forces into a government for the enforcement of this respect a necessity? Or were they established by the robbers of the weak as an easy and scientific method of obtaining and securing perpetually the proceeds of toil of which the masses of mankind are plundered perforce of every one of them? If mankind had no disposition to wrong each other, governments would not be needed, and never would have existed. With this disposition in mankind agreement together to keep it suppressed will inevitably be resorted to; and with this disposition it is certain that those who are entrusted with the governing power will be sure to use it for their own enrichment and aggrandizement to the impoverishment and degradation of the rest of mankind. But, you see, the number who constitute the government would be too small to accomplish this. There has to be a sufficient number; and so, naturally enough, the cunning, bargaining brains among the people go with the government, and together the brains see to it that there shall be no rights but those of property; and the dollar, being the representative of all property, becomes the club with which the unastute masses of mankind are beaten out of all equity. But I can’t have “Liberty” unless I send you the dollar; and between you and me the action seems honest enough. This is the devil of the devilish thing; the right and the wrong, the offensive and defensive uses of the club, get so mixed that, like whiskey when made palatable by being mixed with the natural thirst-quenching drink, it makes the world reel morally to and fro like a man drunken with the whiskey toddy; and you wonder at the morally besotted look that is turned upon you when you say “abolish the government,” just as the whiskey sot astonishes the temperance man with his besotted preference for the whiskey: but the use of the one like that of the other depends on the way the mixture affects the natural taste. Nature imposes, of necessity, so much of toil and endurance before she will yield to us that which is necessary to existence with its pleasures; and mankind seem to be all equally desirous of possessing the reward of toil without performing the duties of the toil. I do not find any difference between the rich and the poor in this respect. All seem to be animated alike with this fraudulent motive, and hence the universality of the system; but only the few have the ability to carry the action prompted by the motive to success. All mankind, like a set of gamblers who have risked everything on the chances of the game, though they leave the pile to the winner very reluctantly, feel that it is right, because they all equally coveted the pile, feel that all the rights of which they are dispossessed in the universal warfare upon each other belong to the victors because they would all be the victors if they could. This seems to me to be the root of the whole matter; and unless there is some way to graft a sprig of truer motive on this original tree body, which shall regenerate the body, roots and all, to the new nature, there is but little hope for the world. The whole world, churches, states, and people, trades unions, radical papers, and every institution, are either making war upon each other for the purpose of extinguishing, enslaving, and plundering each other, or to defend themselves against these. It is an eternal “strike” against something or somebody. Is there no way to agree, so as to disarm and proceed by a peaceful method of life? Show us how to get this universally inspiring fraudulent motive to escape the duties and secure the rewards out of the heart of mankind. Show us the graft of the pure principle of peace which is to regenerate humanity so that we may realize the promised “Peace on earth.”
Enclosed herewith is the club (the dollar) for which I am to have the privilege of reading what you have to say about liberty through ”Liberty” for another year. And, believe me, I most sincerely desire to find in you the ability to go to the root of this matter and propose the true remedy; because when we get that, the governments will cease to exist from the want of a necessity for their existence.
87 Sixth St., Brooklyn, E. D , N. Y., Aug. 25, 1884.
[Good motives are not the imperative need of the world at the present juncture. There are plenty of people good enough to want to stop this eternal scramble, who would do it if they could see the way. Those people need to know the means by which labor is robbed and the means of destroying that means. When enough of them get this knowledge, the robbery will speedily stop, and from that moment the world will begin to grow in goodness. But the world is to be redeemed, not by preaching, but by science; not by goodness, but by knowledge; not by love, but by wisdom. Of this redemption goodness and love will be the glorious fruit.
Tis not from lack of goodness, man, The flames of hell are lit. Hear a whole world’s experience Proclaim: ’Tis lack of wit.
— Editor Liberty.]
[Gramont in L’Intransigeant.]
Must we award to M. Edison alone the honor of the invention of the Phonograph?
No; not absolutely.
Long before the famous American, ingenious Nature had invented, created Phonographs. Of another sort. But Phonographs,— indubitably.
One of my bitter joys is the following:
I go to a café,— alone. I sit down at a table, in a corner, near a group. I call for some serious publication,— the “Débats” or the “Revue des Deux-Mondes.” With my elbows on the table and my head in my hands, I pretend to be absorbed in reading, in swallowing slowly some political or scientific morsel. But I do not read. I listen to what is being said at my side. There is nothing indiscreet in this, my neighbors talking in loud tones and not at all reluctant to be heard.
I choose my places. I know cafés that are excellent for this sort of pastime. The beer-shop is good for nothing. At the beer-shop they do not tarry, they do not talk. People come in, sit down, gulp a glass or two, pay, go away, are replaced by others, and so it goes. Bad, the beer-shop! No, the café is the place,— a café of the old style, in white and gold, with marble tables, an earthen stove, habitués, people who come every day, who know each other, meet frequently, talk to each other, and join in games of cards or dominoes.
One must also choose his faces,— not take simply the first that come. For instance, never sit down near a gentleman who is with a lady. You will have your trouble for nothing. You know in advance what they will say. If they are married, they wiil quarrel; if they are not, they will flatter each other. Nothing to be got from them.
Give me a group of three or four men, good bourgeois, who appear to be in a mood for conversation. . . . But it is impossible to formulate rules: it is a question of scent, of instinct. There are certain bellies, certain round eyes, certain low foreheads, that will rarely disappoint your expectations.
The selection made, sit down and listen.
The things that one hears under these circumstances are unforeseen, stupefying, and inexpressible. It is bottomless nonsense, the flatness of the flounder, the commonplace in all its horror; phrases that have trailed everywhere, sayings a century old, jokes that are wrinkled and toothless; the whole covered with a varnish of radiant imbecility. Withal, an absence of head or tail, an utter lack of logic, arguments between whose premises and conclusions there is no sort of connection, opinions that would make the are de Triomphe shiver. These things cannot be invented or imagined; one has to hear them. And when you leave or stop listening, Henry Monnier seems to you like a reinforced idealist, his characters appear like heroic personages, historic types.
I swear to you that it is amusing.
Thus it was that I heard a gentleman, playing dominoes, say when he refused: Non possumus! It was nothing in itself, but the air; the fashion with which it was said, made it a world.
The café is not the only place where one may catch these unutterabilities on the wing. Lately I was in an Odéon omnibus. As we passed the statue of Diderot, in the Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, I heard a well appearing gentleman and lady give bibliographic estimates of the Encyclopedist that were novel, I assure you, and piquant. But this is only ignorance,— not, as is generally the case, Stupidity triumphant in its frightful nullity.
Now, in hearing what one hears in this way, one gradually comes to the conclusion that many beings with human faces are in this world simply to stock it, and are human only externally.
They have the organs which articulate sounds, but they are destitute of those which ideas inhabit; they utter words, but without reference to any thought. They are not men; they are simply phonographs.
The Work of Terrorism in Russia.
The “National Belge” gives the following list of “executions” and attempts thereat achieved by the Russian Nihilists:
Attempt of Karakosoff, April 16, 1866, upon the Czar Alexander II.
Assassination of the spy Tavlejeff at Odessa, September 17, 1870.
Assassination of the spy Scharachkine at St. Petersburg in 1877.
Assassination of the spy Finogueroff at St. Petersburg in 1877.
Assassination of the spy Gorinovicz at Odessa in 1878.
Assassination of the police agent Nikonoff at Rostov-sur-Don, February 13, 1878.
Attempt of Vera Zassoulitch upon the chief of police, General Trépoff, February 5, 1878.
Attempt of Ossinky upon the attorney general Kotliarevsky at Kieff, March 7, 1878.
Attempt of Nikolajeff upon the Czar Alexander II. at Wittemberg in 1878.
Assassination of the chief of the secret police of Kieff, Baron de Heyking, May 8, 1878.
Assassination of the general chief of the secret police of the Empire, Mesentzeff, at St. Petersburg, August 10, 1878.
Assassination of the governor of Charkoff, Prince Kropotkine (brother of the celebrated Anarchist now in prison in France).
Assassination of the spy Reinstein at Moscow, March 10, 1879.
Attempt of Mirsky upon the chief of secret police, General Drensteln, at St. Petersburg, March 25, 1879.
Attempt of Solovjeff upon the Czar Alexander II. at St. Petersburg, April 14, 1879.
Assassination of the spy Baranovsky at Kieff, April 12, 1879.
Attempt upon the Czar Alexander II. on the Losovo railway, November 30, 1879.
Attempt of Hartmann upon the Czar Alexander II. on the Moscow railway, December 1, 1879.
Attempt upon the Winter Palace, February 17,1880.
Assassination of the traitor Scharkoff at St. Petersburg, February 17, 1880.
Attempt of Mlodezki upon the minister of the interior, Count Loris Melikoff, at St. Petersburg, March 4, 1880.
Attempt of Polikarpoff upon the police agent Jabramski at Kieff, March 10, 1880.
Assassination of the Czar Alexander II., March 12, 1880.
Assassination of the spy Neumann at Warsaw, 1881.
Attempt of Sankovsky upon the minister of the interior Tscherevine at St. Petersburg, November 25,1881.
Assassination of the attorney-general Strelnikoff at Odessa, March 30, 1882.
Attempt of Katitonskaja upon the governor-general of Siberia, General Iliaschevitch, at Tschita, September 29,1882.
Assassination of Colonel Soudeikin, chief of the secret police, and his agent Gontscharoff, at St, Petersburg, December 28, 1883.
The Interview of the Three Emperors.
[Henry Maret in Le Radical.]
First Article, September 15, 1884.
“It is my opinion that the world, which was mad, is becoming wise,” said an old author, who was deceived.
The world has yet to revolve many times before becoming wise, and we who are now living shall not see this wisdom.
Here are three men about to meet in a Polish village, and the entire world is speculating upon the conversation that will take place between these three men, the most intelligent of whom is certainly inferior to the most ordinary dweller on Parnassus.
What is there, then, about these three men to attract the attention of the world?
This,— they are emperors.
The hazard of birth has given one of them the right to command the numerous peoples who live in North Germany, and a prime minister, as clever as he is knavish, has won him the advantage of stealing new provinces from his neighbors. From an aged idiot he has become a great man.
The same hazard of birth has given the second the right to command a multitude of slaves scattered from the Caspian to the North Sea. These slaves, stupefied by priests, believe that this man is the good God, and that, when this good God dies, he is replaced by another good God, who is his son. A very ordinary good God, who might be advantageously replaced by his valet.
The third owes to the same hazard the right to exact obedience from various peoples,— Hungarians, Croatians, Slavs,Germans, etc. He would like to extend what he calls his possessions into the Orient, though not knowing whether he will be allowed to dine twice more, jnst as the first-named would like to extend into the Occident, or, in other words, absorb Holland.
That which would lead to the condemnation to hard labor of a thief will be considered the glory of these three men if they succeed.
The world, which has its eyes upon them, pretends that they will occupy themselves with still another matter. They will occupy themselves with the political chessboard, at which the world is very proud. The world adds that the three emperors — that is, these three ordinary men — are going to pass resolutions regarding socialism, which means that they are going to make arrangements to outrage liberty and obstruct the progress of ideas. At this the world is altogether enchanted. Two hundred millions of men are anxiously waiting to see what kicks in the rear they are to receive from these three individuals. And, if there is really a good God in heaven, I fancy that he must be amused at human stupidity.
Remember that it is quite possible that these men will discuss nothing at all, but content themselves with sipping coffee together while talking of bagatelles. Well, you will never make the world believe that, it being convinced that these three men, being born in a certain way and of a certain coition, must know what is good for it better than it knows itself. Men in general are persuaded that these three individuals are not constituted as they are themselves.
It will take several centuries yet for the world to become wise and understand that the only difference between an emperor and a bootblack is in favor of the latter, who is useful.
Second Article, September 22, 1884.
Has not the earth felt happier these last few days? Has not your heart expanded, my dear readers? Has not your spleen diluted? Has not a perfumed breeze been blowing to tell you that it is from the gods? If all this has not occurred, nature and you must be guilty of the greatest indecorum. For the three emperors have deigned to go bunting.
They have likewise deigned to breakfast in the open air. Their august and sacred stomachs have deigned to receive mortal nourishment. That always stupefies the editors of the “Figaro,” the “Gaulois,” and other court journals, who fell in admiration and gratitude before these majesties when they condescend to amuse and enjoy themselves. It seems that for this we owe them eternal gratitude, and that to give our lives for them at the first favorable opportunity is the least that we can do.
The court journals have told us these interesting bits of news. They have thrilled us with the sweetest emotion by informing us as to the form of the dinner table and lamenting the lot of several great personages who have had to put up with rather narrow quarters. Let the miners of Anzin dare to complain after that!
There has likewise been a levee and a breakfast, and dinner has been served at exactly six o’clock. The report has spread rapidly, and the people have been plunged into the deepest enchantment. Who would not be enchanted on reading these things? For my part, I have been put in a very merry mood, and have just shouted through the window to a poor devil passing by:
“How can you wear such a hungry aspect, you wretch? Do you not know that the emperors have dined?”
It is said also that over the walnuts and the wine they have deigned to consider the happiness of their peoples. Everything that an emperor does be deigns to do; the rest of us simply are born and live and die; an emperor deigns to be born and deigns to live; they do not say that he deigns to die, for it is too clear that he resigns himself to that only in the last extremity.
So the emperors have deigned to decide, according to the court journals, that it is time to put an end to the Revolution. Prophets moreover have announced that its period is drawing to an end. The happiest symptoms of reaction are felt in all countries, always according to the court journals. The peoples are beginning to see that they were much happier before 1789, in the days when they were beaten, fleeced, and hanged, and when emperors and kings deigned to enjoy themselves even more than they do to-day. They clamor loudly for a return to that golden age.
The emperors therefore have decided, in order to satisfy the wishes of their peoples that in future there shall be no more Revolution. They have decided to suppress the Ocean. These three have wiped out a century of history and annulled events. Nothing has happened; Voltaire, Mirabeau, Danton never existed; the “Marseillaise” was never sung; there have been no shouts of liberty; socialism is a simple question of police; we resume the broken chain of time; we are awaking from a bad dream, and, instead of progress, reforms, and the upward march of humanity, the three emperors have decreed that we shall have their three faces to contemplate upon our knees.
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.