“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
In this number of Liberty begins a true story of Siberian exile by Stepniak, the celebrated Nihilist and author of the work on “Underground Russia.” The character and adventures of the heroine furnish forcible illustration of how true a forecast of reality was Tchernychewsky’s romance. “A Female Nihilist” will run through two more numbers and then appear in pamphlet form.
And still another! The Lansing “Sentinel” has set apart several columns of its first page as a labor department under the editorial charge of Joseph A. Labadie, who is appointed for the purpose by the organized workmen of Lansing. His opening utterances have no uncertain sound. He starts with the assertion that “the goal of human civilization is philosophical anarchy,” and I copy in another column one of his pithy paragraphs, which shows that he knows what Anarchy means. When Liberty was started, Mr. Labadie was one of the foremost men among the State Socialists,— secretary, I believe, of their national organization. Liberty suggested certain doubts to his mind, which he was so bold as to express in a letter to this paper which appeared in the issue of June 9, 1883. For this show of honest independence the State Socialists excommunicated him. Since then he has been steadily advancing, his doubts have ripened into certainties, and now he takes detinite place in the Anarchistic movement. I give him most enthusiastic welcome, knowing the value of his ability and earnestness to whatever cause enlists them.
Fred. May Holland of Concord, Massachusetts, sends me copies of his petitions for church taxation and the repeal of laws discrediting the testimony of atheists, and asks me to say a word in their favor in Liberty. In answer I have sent him the following note, which, as it explains my position on these points, will not be out of place here: “With the spirit of your opposition to sectarianism I am very much in sympathy, but to the forms which you give it, I cannot contribute the support that I should like. I think it would be wrong to tax churches, because I think it is wrong to tax anything or anybody. My work is to lift taxes, not to levy them. Concerning the testimony of atheists, I find myself nearer to you, and still not ardently interested, because to decline to accept the testimony of atheists seems to me a trivial wrong beside that of compelling others than atheists to give their testimony. When all public burdens shall be voluntarily borne, I shall hope to see the churches contribute their share during the brief period destined to elapse between that time and their definitive disappearance; and during the somewhat longer period that may precede the disappearance of all necessity for courts, I do not think that one of them, having lost the power to extort testimony, would ever think of exerting that of rejecting testimony on sectarian grounds. I am with you for Equality, but know none worth the having except that which follows in Liberty’s train.”
“To-Day,” the monthly magazine of the English State Socialists, now having seventy-six pages and selling for a shilling, will be reduced in January to forty-eight pages and will therefore be sold for threepence.
Apropos of my recent assertion that I had “no leisure for such gentle and amusing sport” as attacking the Liberal League, the “Truth Seeker” remarks that I might at least find time to answer some questions that its editor recently asked me regarding the constructive side of Anarchy. I fully intended to answer these questions, but, when I sat down to do so, I discovered that I had mislaid the paper containing them. Since then I have written to the “Truth Seeker” for another copy, with which it has not yet seen fit to favor me. When it shall, I will endeavor to satisfy its editor’s laudable desire to know more about Anarchy. For such work Liberty always has time.
Charles T. Fowler of Kansas City, one of the most level-headed reformers in the country, has been quiet for a time, but evidently not idle. He now again joins publicly in the work by reviving his journal, “The Sun,” as a bi-monthly pamphlet, each number of which will constitute an elaborate essay in itself. The first number treats of “Co-operation: Its Laws and Principles,” and is one of the most admirable statements that I have seen in a long time. The second number will explain how the principles of co-operation may be put in practice through the bank, the store, and the factory. Meanwhile a supplementary number is to appear, treating of prohibition in the light of Anarchy. I cannot commend Mr. Fowler’s project too highly. Help him in it by sending one dollar to “The Sun, Kansas City, Missouri,” for a year’s subscription.
“Edgeworth’s” criticism of “X” in another column hints that the latter’s opposition to segregated reformatory efforts proceeds partly from a bias generated by residence in Boston. This is probably a mistake. In the first place, “X” doesn’t live in Boston and seldom visits it; and in the second place, if he agrees with me, he has no exaggerated opinion of Boston purity and morality, but rather regards both at a very low ebb, whether considered relatively or absolutely. But he knows the value and vast power of the agencies that have developed from social life on a large scale, and, instead of throwing them away, wishes, by infusing them with the spirit and practice of Liberty, to utilize them in the service of Equity. For one thing, he would not adopt “Edgeworth’s” singular device for escaping taxation by abstaining from the consumption of taxed goods. That would indeed be a leap from the frying-pan into the fire, and the inauguration of a policy that, if consistently applied by Anarchists, would lead them to suicide as the only method of avoiding all complicity with the social evils of our day. No; “X” would have people manufacture, sell, and consume such goods in still larger quantities, and decline to pay any taxes for exercising this natural right. The power to do this, which is destined to result from the organization of credit, will be acquired at best only by a long process,— certainly by an endless one (or perhaps I should say a beginningless one) if Anarchists were to follow “Edgeworth” to the woods.
The Manifest Tendency.
To the Editor of Liberty:
The manifest tendency in our politico-social life is in the direction of centralization, not merely a centralization which subordinates the State to the Nation, but one which subordinates the individual to the collective power, whether of the Nation, the State, or the Municipality. Our people acquiesce in the most outrageous wrongs committed against themselves with scarcely a murmur. They seem to have lost all perception of their rights. Let a scheme be proposed for the further limitation of the liberties of some class, sect, or society, and if they do not happen to approve of the peculiar views or mode of life of said class, sect, or society, they at once fall in with the scheme and give it the sanction of their influence and votes. It is useless to argue with them, to tell them that they have no business to attempt to enforce their notions upon those who do not accept them as true and just; all that they will stop to consider is that these people do not act as they, the censors, think to be right, and so they must be compelled to conform to their idea of what is just and proper. Or, asked to do something to help some poor unfortunate who has incurred the wrath and been made to feel the vengeance of “the powers that be,” they will first inquire whether it be really true that he has violated the law, and if satisfied that he has, you cannot get them to lift a finger in his behalf, no matter how unjust is the law of which he is the victim. It is enough for them to know that their god, the majority, has been blasphemed. They, “Liberals” too, strenuously argue that the law must be obeyed under all circumstances, no matter how directly it may contravene the principles of justice and liberty.
Year by year they patiently submit to the grossest invasions of their rights; year by year the policeman and the tax-gatherer become more officious and more exacting; year by year is the domain narrowed which they can call their own; and year by year do the State and the City extend their boundaries and strengthen their power. And this is done by the votes of those who are to play the part of serf in the new order, whatever it may happen to be. They vote away their rights under the delusion that they are thereby increasing their chances of material prosperity, advancing the cause of morality, or gaining additional security for the few rights which they have not yet surrendered to the government. A good many of them do kick quite vigorously against sumptuary legislation, but with the great majority of these it is more a question of personal grievance than it is of intelligent comprehension of their rights and of the sacredness of individual initiative. Vast numbers of them are just as ready to vote for a medical law, or a “tariff for protection,” or to exact a license fee from an agent or peddler, or to vote a subsidy from the city treasury in aid of this, that, or the other enterprise, or to vote for compulsory education, as though they had not just been shouting themselves hoarse in behalf of “personal liberty.”
And so it goes all around the circle; but very few men who claim to be Freethinkers and reformers are clear and consisted in their demands. Most of them can see tyranny in one place while they are as blind as bats to its presence everywhere else. They are completely at sea in their ideas regarding the rights of man. They have inherited so much from the repressive institutions and usages of the past that it is only by chance that they now and then stumble on to a correct proposition, and then only to contradict it in the next breath by the championship of some tyrannical measure or other. Most of them have some pet scheme for the regeneration of Humanity which they are sure, if they can only get it enacted into a law, will make everything lovely. “Law” is the end-all and be-all.
The “masses” are generally more consistent: no thread of moral light relieves the blackness of the blanket of legality which they would spread over us. On gala days they crack the welkin with their uproarious approbation of the sayings and doings of the “Fathers,” and on election day they tramp to the polls and cast their ballots for a lot of amateur despots whom they know will be sure to deny in their legislation every just principle for which the rebels of ’76 fought. No wonder that “X” despairs of pulling them out of the mud before they shall have pulled us in with them.
A Female Nihilist
Author of “Underground Russia”
On the 27th of July, in the year 1878, the little town of Talutorovsk, in Western Siberia, was profoundly excited by a painful event. A political prisoner, named Olga Liubatovitch, it was said, had miserably put an end to her days. She was universally loved and esteemed, and her violent death therefore produced a most mournful impression throughout the town, and the Ispravnik, or chief of the police, was secretly accused of having driven the poor young girl, by his unjust persecutions, to take away her life.
Olga was sent to Talutorovsk some months after the trial known as that of the “fifty” of Moscow, in which she was condemned to nine years’ hard labor for Socialist propagandism, a punishment afterwards commuted into banishment for fife. Unprovided with any means whatever of existence, for her father, a poor engineer with a large familv, could send her nothing, Olga succeeded, by indefatigable industry, in establishing herself in a certain position. Although but little skilled in female labor, she endeavored to live by her needle, and became the milliner of the semi-civilized ladies of the town, who went into raptures over her work. These fair dames were firmly convinced — it is impossible to know why — that the elegance of a dress depends above all things upon the number of its pockets. The more pockets there were, the more fashionable the dress. Olga never displayed the slightest disinclination to satisfy this singular taste. She put pockets upon pockets, upon the body, upon the skirts, upon the underskirts; before, behind, everywhere. The married ladies and the young girls were as proud as peacocks, and were convinced that they were dressed like the most fashionable Parisian, and, though they were less profuse with their money than with their praises, yet in that country, where living costs so little, it was easy to make two ends meet. Later on, Olga had an occupation more congenial to her habits. Before entering the manufactories and workshops as a sempstress in order to carry on the Socialist propaganda, she had studied medicine for some years at Zurich, and she could not now do less than lend her assistance in certain cases of illness. This soon gave her a reputation, and, at the request of the citizens, the police accorded to her the permission to fill the post of apothecary and phlebotomist, as the former occupant of that post, owing to habitual drunkenness, was fit for nothing. Not unfrequently she even took the place of the district doctor, a worthy man who, owing to old age and a partiality for brandy, was in such a state that he could not venture upon delicate operations, because his hands shook. She acted for him also in many serious cases baffling his antediluvian knowledge. Some of her cures were considered miraculous; among others, that of the district judge, whom, by determined treatment, she had saved after a violent attack of delirium tremens, a malady common to almost all men in that wild country.
In a word, Olga was in great favor with the peaceful citizens of Talutorovsk. The hatred of the police towards her was all the greater for that reason. Her proud and independent disposition would not permit her to submit to the stupid and humiliating exigencies of the representatives of the Government. Those representatives, barbarous and overbearing as they were, considered every attempt to defend personal dignity a want of respect towards themselves,— nay, a provocation , and neglected no occasion of taking their revenge. There was always a latent war between Olga and her guardians, a war of the weak, bound hand and foot, against the strong, armed at all points; for the police have almost arbitrary power over the political prisoners who are under their surveillance. In this very unequal struggle, however, Olga did not always come off the worst, as often happens in the case of those who, proud, daring, and fearing nothing, are always ready to risk everything for the merest trifle. One of these conflicts, which lasted four days and kept the whole of the little town in a state of excitement by its dramatic incidents, was so singular that it deserves to be related.
Olga had had sent from her parents a parcel of books, which, in her position, was a gift indeed. She went to the Ispravnik to get them, but met with an unforeseen obstacle. Among the books sent to her was a translation of the “Sociology” of Herbert Spencer, and the Ispravnik mistook it for a work on Socialism, and would not on any account give it up to her. In vain Olga pointed out to him that the incriminated book had been published at St. Petersburg with the license of the Censorship; that sociology and socialism were very different things, etc. The Ispravnik was stubborn. The discussion grew warm. Olga could not restrain some sharp remarks upon the gross ignorance of her opponent, and ended by telling him that his precautions were utterly useless as she had at home a dozen books like that of Herbert Spencer.
“Oh! you have books like this at home, have you?” exclaimed the Ispravnik. “Very well; we’ll come and search the house this very day.”
“No,” exclaimed Olga, in a fury; “you will do nothing of the kind; you have no right, and, if you dare to come, I will defend myself”
With these words she left the place, thoroughly enraged.
War was declared, and the rumor spread throughout the town, and everywhere excited a kind of timorous curiosity.
Directly Olga reached her home she shut herself up and barricaded the door. The Ispravnik, on his side, prepared for the attack. He mustered a band of policemen, with some ponialye, or eitizen-witnesses, and sent them to the enemy’s house.
Finding the entrance closed and the door barricaded, the valorous army began to knock energetically, and ordered the inmate to open.
“I will not open the door,” replied the voice of Olga within.
“Open, in the name of the law.”
“I will not open the door. Break it in! I will defend myself.”
At this explicit declaration the band became perplexed. A council of war was held. “We must break open the door,” they all said. But as all these valiant folks had families, wives, and children whom they did not wish to leave orphans, no one cared to face the bullets of this mad woman, whom they knew to be capable of anything. Each urged his neighbor onward, but no one cared to go forward himself.
Recourse was had to diplomacy.
“Open the door, Miss.”
“Please to open the door, or you will repent it.”
“I will not open the door,” replied the firm voice of the besieged.
What was to be done? A messenger was sent to the Ispravnik to inform him that Olga Liubatovitch had shut herself up in her house, had pointed a pistol at them, and had threatened to blow out the brains of the first who entered.
The Ispravnik, considering that the task of leadership would fall to him as supreme chief (and he also had a family), did not care to undertake the perilous enterprise. His army, seeing itself thus abandoned by its leader, was in dismay; it lost courage; demoralization set in, and after a few more diplomatic attempts, which led to nothing, it beat a disgraceful retreat. A select corps of observation remained, however, near the enemy’s citadel, entrenched behind the hedges of the adjoining kitchen-gardens. It was hoped that the enemy, elated by the victory in this first encounter, would make a sortie, and then would be easily taken, in flank and rear, surrounded, and defeated.
But the enemy displayed as much prudence as firmness. Perceiving the mameuvres of her adversaries, Olga divined their object, and did not issue from the house all that day, or the day after, or even on the third day. The house was provided with provisions and water, and Olga was evidently prepared to sustain a long siege
It was clear that, if no one would risk his life, which naturally no one was disposed to risk, nothing could be done save to reduce her by hunger. But who, in that ease, could tell how long the scandal of this flagrant rebellion would last? And then, who could guarantee that this Fury would not commit suicide instead ot surrendering? And then, what complaints, what reprimands from superiors?
In this perplexity, the Ispravnik resolved to select the least among many evils, and on the fourth day he raised the siege.
Thus ended the little drama of July, 1878, known in Siberia as the “Siege of Olga Liubatovitch.” The best of the joke was, however, that she had no arms of a more warlike character than a penknife and some kitchen utensils. She herself had not the slightest idea what would have happened had they stormed her house, but that she would have defended herself in some way or other is quite certain.
The Ispravnik might have made her pay for her rebellion by several years of confinement, but how could he confess to his superiors the cowardice of himself and his subordinates? He preferred, therefore, to leave her in peace. But he chafed in seeret, for he saw that the partisans of the young socialist — and they were far from few — ridiculed himself and his men behind their backs. He determined to vindicate his offended dignity at all cost, and, being of a stubborn disposition, he carried out his resolve in the following manner.
A fortnight after the famous siege, he sent a message to Olga to come to his office at eight o’clock in the morning. She went. She waited an hour; two hours; but no one came to explain what she was wanted for. She began to lose patience, and declared that she would go away. But the official in attendance told her that she must not go; that she must wait; such were the orders of the Ispravnik. She waited until eleven o’clock. No one came. At last a subaltern appeared, and Olga addressed herself to him and asked what she was wanted for. The man replied that he did not know, that the Ispravnik would tell her when he came in. He could not say, however, when the Ispravnik would arrive.
“In that case,” said Olga, “I should prefer to return some other time.”
But the police officer declared that she must continue to wait in the antechamber of the office, for such were the orders of the Ispravnik. There could be no doubt that all this was a disgraceful attempt to provoke her, and Olga, who was of a very irascible disposition, replied with some observations not of the most respectful character, and not particularly flattering to the Ispravnik or his deputy.
“Oh! that’s how you treat the representatives of the Government in the exercise of their functions, is it?” exclaimed the deputy, as though prepared for this. And he immediately called in another policeman as a witness, and drew up a statement of the charge against her.
Olga went away. But proceedings were taken against her before the district judge, the very man whom she had cured of delirium tremens, who sentenced her to three days’ solitary confinement. It was confinement in a dark, fetid hole, full of filth and vermin.
Merely in entering it, she was overcome with disgust. When she was released, she seemed to have passed through a serious illness. It was not, however, the physical sufferings she had undergone so much as the humiliation she had endured which cbafed her proud disposition.
From that time she became gloomy, taciturn, abrupt. She spent whole days shut up in her room, without seeing anybody, or wandered away from the town into the neighboring wood, and avoided people. She was evidently planning something. Among the worthy citizens of Talutorovsk, who had a compassionate feeling towards her, some said one thing, some another, but no one foresaw such a tragic ending as that of which rumors ran on July 27.
In the morning the landlady entered her room and found it empty. The bed, undisturbed, clearly showed that she had not slept in it. She had disappeared. The first idea which flashed through the mind of the old dame was that Olga had escaped, and she ran in all haste to inform the Ispravnik, fearing that any delay would be considered as a proof of complicity.
The Ispravnik did not lose a moment. Olga Liubatovitch being one of the most seriously compromised women, he feared the severest censure, perhaps even simissal, for his want of vigilance. he immediately hastened to the spot in order to discover if possible the direction the fugitive had taken. But dircetly he entered the room he found upon the table two letters signed and sealed, one addressed to the authorities, the other to the sister of Olga, Véra Liubatovitch, who had also been banished to another Siberian town. These letters were immediately opened by the Ispravnik, and they revealed the mournful fact that the young girl had not taken to flight, but had committed suicide. In the letter addressed to the authorities she said, in a few lines, that she died by her own hand, and beirged that nobody might be blamed. To her sister she wrote more fully, explaining that her life of continuous annoyance, of inactivity, and of gradual wasting away, which is the life of a political prisoner in Siberia, had become hateful to her, that, she could no longer endure it, and preferred to drown herself in the Tobol. She finished by affectionately begging her sister to forgive her for the grief she might cause her and her friends and companions in misfortune. Without wasting a moment, the Ispravnik hastened to the Tobol, and there he found the confirmation of the revelation of Olga. Parts of her dress dangled upon the bushes, under which lay her bonnet, lapped by the rippling water. Some peasants said that on the previous day they had seen the young girl wandering on the bank with a gloomy and melancholy aspect, looking fixedly at the turbid waters of the river. The Ispravnik, through whose hand’s all the correspondence passed of the political prisoners banished to his district, recalled certain expressions and remarks that had struck him in the last letters of Olga Liubatovitch, the meaning of which now became clear.
There could no longer be any doubt. The Ispravnik sent for all the fishermen near, and began to drag the river with poles, casting in nets to recover the body. This, however, led to nothing. Nor was it surprising: the broad river was so rapid that in a single night it must have carried a body away — who knows how many leagues? For three days the Ispravnik continued his efforts, and stubbornly endeavored to make the river surrender its prey. But at last, after having worn out all his people and broken several nets against the stones and old trunks which the river mocked him with, he had to give up the attempt as unavailing.
The body of Olga, her heart within it throbbing with joy and uncertainty, had meanwhile been hurried away, not by the yellow waters of the Tobol, but by a vehicle drawn by two horses galloping at lull speed.
(To be continued.)
What’s To Be Done?
By N. G. Tchernychewsky.
Translated by Benj. R. Tucker.
Continued from No. 55.
But they all view these things in the same way and as if they were one and the same thing, so that to them comfort, sensuality, virtue, morality seem identical. But all this is true only from the Chinese standpoint; they themselves, on the contrary, find very great differences in their views corresponding to the diversity of their natures. How grasp all these differences?
When Europeans talk over their affairs with each other, but only with each other and not with the Chinese, the diversity of their natures is visible. So is it with our new men; we see in them a great diversity when the relations between themselves and not with others are before us. We have seen two individuals of this type, Véra Pavlovna and Lopoukhoff, and we have seen what their relations were. A third individual now appears upon the scene. Let us see what differences will grow out of the possibility now open to one of the three, of making a comparison between the two others. Véra Pavlovna now has before her Lopoukhoff and Kirsanoff. Formerly she had no choice to make; now she may make one.
Nevertheless two or three words must be said of Kirsanoff’s outer man.
He too, like Lopoukhoff, had regular and beautiful features. Some thought the latter more beautiful, others the former. Lopoukhoff, who was darker, had hair of a deep chestnut color, sparkling brown eyes that seemed almost black, an aquiline nose, thick lips, and a somewhat oval face.
Kirsanolf had moderately thick light hair, blue eyes, a Grecian nose, a small mouth, and an oblong face of rare whiteness.
Kirsanoff’s position was a fairly good one. He already had a chair. The electors were against him by an enormous majority, and he not only would not have obtained a chair, but would not even have been made a doctor at the final examination at the Academy, had it not been impossible to avoid it. Two or three young people and one of his old professors, a man already advanced in age, all his friends, had long since reported to the others that there existed in the world a man named Virchow and that this Virchow lived in Berlin, and a man named Claude Bernard and that this Claude Bernard lived in Paris, and I know not how many more names of men of this sort, which my memory does not retain and who also lived in different cities; they had also said that these Virchows, Claude Bernards, and others were scientific luminaries.
All that was improbable in the last degree, for we well know the luminaries of science,— Boerhoave, Hufeland; Harvey was also a great savant, being the discoverer of the circulation of the blood; likewise Jenner, who taught us vaccination; these we know, but, as for these Virchows, and these Claude Bernards, we do not know them. What sort of luminaries are they, then? The devil knows. This same Claude Bernard showed appreciation of Kirsanoff’s work before he had finished his last year as a student; of course, then, it was impossible to avoid electing him. So they gave Kirsanoff a physician’s diploma and about eighteen months afterward a chair. The students said that he was a valuable addition to the number of good professors. Of practice he had none, and said that he had abandoned the practice of medicine. But he spent many hours at the hospital: he often dined there and sometimes slept there. What did he do there? He said that he worked there for science and not for the sick: “I do not treat patients, I only observe and experiment.” The students sustained this opinion and added that none but imbeciles treat the sick now, for no one yet knows how to treat them. The hospital attendants thought otherwise: “See, Kirsanoff takes this patient into his ward; the case must be a serious one,” said they to each other; and then they said to the patient: “Be tranquil; no disease can stand against this doctor; he is a master, and a father besides”
For the first few months after Véra Pavlovna’s marriage Kirsanoff visited the Lopoukhoffs very often, almost every other day, I might say almost every day and be nearer the truth. He became soon, if not from the very first, as intimate a friend of Véra Pavlovna as of Lopoukhoff himself. That lasted about six months. One day, when they were talking freely, as was their custom, Kirsanoff, who had had the most to say, suddenly became silent.
“What is the matter with you, Alexander?”
“Why do you stop, Alexander Matvéitch?”
“Oh, it is nothing; I am seized with a fit of melancholy.”
“That is something that rarely happens to you, Alexander Matvéitch,” said Véra Pavlovna.
“It never happens to me without cause,” said Kirsanoff, in a tone which seemed strained.
A little later, rather sooner than usual, he rose and went away, taking his leave, as he always did, unceremoniously.
Two days afterward Lopoukhoff told Véra Pavlovna that he had been to see KirsanoflV and he had been received by him in a rather singular fashion, as if Kirsanoff were trying to be agreeable to him, which was quite unnecessary, considering their relations. Lopoukhoff, after watching him a while, had said to him frankly: “It seems to me that you are out of sorts towards us, Alexander; with whom are you offended? Perhaps with me?”
“But what is the matter, then?”
“Nothing; you take notions, I don’t know why.”_
“You do not feel right toward me today; something is the matter with you.”
Kirsanoff was profuse with his assurances: nothing was the matter; in what way had he shown himself put out? Then, as it ashamed, he again threw off ceremony and became very cordial. Lopoukhoff, seizing the opportunity, said to him:
“Now, Alexander, tell me, why are you out of sorts?”
“I never dreamed of such a thing,” — and again he became mawkish and affected.
What an enigma! Lopoukhoff recalled nothing that could have offended him; indeed, such a thing was not possible, considering their reciprocal esteem and profound friendship. Véra Pavlovna, too, asked herself if she had not offended him, but was as unable to find anything, knowing perfectly well that she, no more than her husband, could have offended him.
Two days more passed. Not to come to the Lopoukhoffs’ for four days together was an extraordinary thing for Kirsanolf. Véra Pavlovna even wondered if he were not unwell. Lopoukhoff went to see if he were not really sick. Sick? No, not at all: but still he was out of sorts. To Lopoukhoff’s urgent inquiries and after several times saying “No” and several times. “It is your imagination,” he began to talk all sorts of nonsense about his feelings toward Lopoukhoff and Véra Pavlovna: he loved them and esteemed them highly. From all that it was to be inferred that they had wronged him, and the worst of it was that in his remarks there was no allusion to anything of the kind. It was evident that they had offended him. It seemed so strange to Lopoukhoff to see this in a man like Kirsanoff that he said: “Listen, we are friends; all this ought really to make you blush.” Kirsanoff answered with an affected sorrow that perhaps he was too sensitive, but that on several occasions he had felt hurt.
“But at what?”
He began to enumerate a great number of things that had happened lately, all of them things of this sort:
“You said that the lighter the color of a man’s hair, the weaker he is. Véra Pavlovna said that tea had risen in price. One was an ill-natured jest on the color of my hair. The other was an allusion to the fact that I was your guest.”
Lopoukhoff stood stupefied: “Pride governs all his thoughts, or, rather, he has become simply a fool, a fool in four letters.”
Lopoukhoff went home a little saddened; it was painful to him to see such failings in a man whom he so much loved. To Véra Pavlovna’s questions on the subject he replied sadly that it was better not to talk about it, that Kirsanoff said disagreeable things, and that probably he was sick.
Three or four days later Kirsanoff came back to himself, recognized the imbecility of his words, and called on the Lopoukhoffs, behaving himself as he had been wont to do. Then he began to tell how stupid he had been. From Véra Pavlovna’s words he saw that his conversation had not been reported; he sincerely thanked Lopoukhoff for his discretion, and to punish himself told all to Véra Pavlovna; he feelingly excused himself, saying that he was sick and had been in the wrong. Véra Pavlovna bade him abandon the subject, declaring that these were stupidities; he caught at the word “stupidities,” and began to talk all sorts of twaddle no less senseless than the things he had said to Lopoukhoff: he said with much reserve and finesse that certainly these things were “stupidities,” for he fully realized his inferiority to the Lopoukhoffs, but that he deserved nothing else, etc., the whole being said with veiled allusions and accompanied by the most amiable assurances of esteem and devotion.
Véra Pavlovna, at hearing him go on in this way, stood as stupefied as her husband had before her. After Kirsanoff’s departure they remembered that some days before their friend had shown signs of very singular stupidity. At the time they had neither remarked upon nor understood it; now his remarks became clear to them; they were of the same sort, only less pronounced.
Kirsanoff again began to visit the Lopoukhoffs frequently; but the continuation of the former simple relations was no longer possible. From under the mask of a good and intelligent man had protruded for several days asses’ ears of such length that the Lopoukhoffs would have lost a large share of their esteem for their former friend oven if the ears had not reappeared: but they continued to show themselves from time to time, and, although they did not seem so long as before and were each time withdrawn precipitately, there was always something pitiable, vile, and stupid about them.
Soon the Lopoukhoffs grew cold toward him. Finding in this an excuse, he stopped his visits. But he saw Lopoukhoff at the house of one of their friends. Some time after, his conduct improving, Lopoukhoffs aversion to him began to weaken, and he began to visit him again. Within a year Kirsanoff resumed his visits at the Lopoukhoffs’; he again became the excellent Kirsanoff of former days, unaffected and loyal. But he came rarely: it was plain that he was not at his ease, remembering the foolish part that he had played. Lopoukhoff and Véra Pavlovna had almost forgotten it. But relations once broken off are never quite reestablished. Judging from appearances, he and Lopoukhoff had become friends again, and Lopoukhoff really esteemed him now almost as much as before and visited him often; Véra Pavlovna, too, had restored to him a portion of her good graces, but she saw him only rarely.
Lopoukhoff’s sickness, or, better, Véra Pavlovna’s extreme attachment to her husband, having forced Kirsanoff to maintain intimate daily relations with the Lopoukhoffs for more than a week, he clearly saw that he was entering upon a perilous path in deciding to pass his nights near Lopoukhoff in order to prevent Véra Pavlovna from being her husband’s sick-nurse. He was very happy and proud at having succeeded so well in doing all that he had deemed necessary to arrest the development of his passion when he had perceived its symptoms three years before. Two or three weeks afterward he had been unable to avoid returning to the Lopoukhoffs’. But even at those times he had felt more pleasure over his firmness in the struggle than suffering at his privation, and a month later he did not suffer at all; the only feeling left being that of satisfaction with his upright conduct. So tranquil and pure was his soul.
But now the danger was greater than then: in these three years Véra Pavlovna had certainly greatly developed morally; then she was half a child, now it was quite a different thing: the feeling that she inspired could no longer be the light attachment that one feels for a little girl whom one loves and at the same time admires her innocence. And not only had she developed morally; with us here in the North, when a woman is really beautiful, she grows more and more so every year. Yes, at that age three years of life do a great deal to develop the good and the beautiful in the soul, in the eyes, in the features, and in the entire person, if the person be moral and good.
The danger was great, but for him only; as for Véra Pavlovna, what risk had she to run? She loved her husband, and Kirsanoff was not thoughtless and foolish enough to believe himself a dangerous rival of Lopoukhoff. It was from no false modesty that he thought so: all who knew them looked on them as equals. Now, Lopoukhoff had on his side this enormous advantage, that he had already deserved love, that he had already completely won Véra Pavlovna’s heart. The choice was made; she was very contented and happy; could she dream of anything better? Was she not happy? It was even ridiculous to think of such a thing. To her and to Lopoukhoff such an apprehension would have been but an absurd vanity on Kirsanoff’s part.
Well, for such a little thing, to save himself a month or two of weariness, ought Kirsanoff to let this woman fatigue herself and run the risk of contracting a serious disease by watching nights at a sick man’s bedside? To avoid disturbing the tranquillity of his own life for a little while, ought he to allow another individual no less worthy to incur a serious danger? That would not have been honest. Now, a dishonest action would have been much more disagreeable to him than the slightly painful struggle with himself through which he had to pass, and of the result of which he felt as sure as of his firmness.
These were Kirsanoff’s thoughts, on deciding to take Véra Pavlovna’s place at her husband’s bedside.
The necessity for watching passed. To save appearances and not make the change in their relations so abrupt as to call attention to it, it was necessary for Kirsanoff to visit his friends at first two or three times a week, then from month to month, and then every six months. He could readily explain his absence by his occupations.
What Kirsanoff foresaw was realized; his attachment was renewed, and became more intense than before; but to struggle against it gave him no difficulty, no serious torment. Visiting the Lopoukhoffs for the second time during the week following the cessation of his treatment of Dmitry Serguéitch, he stays till nine o’clock in the evening. This was enough, appearances were saved; he need not come again for a fortnight, and it would be over. But this time he must stay an hour longer. The week was not yet over, and his passion was already half stifled; in a month it would entirely disappear. Therefore he was well contented. He took an active part in the conversation and with so much ease that he rejoiced at his success, and this contentment added still further to his self-possession.
But Lopoukhoff was arranging to go out for the first time since his sickness. At this Véra Pavlovna was much pleased, her joy perhaps being greater than that of the convalescent himself.
The conversation turning upon the sickness, they made fun of Véra, and ironically extolled her conjugal self-denial. Barely had she escaped falling sick herself in her exaggerated alarm at that which did not call for it.
“Laugh, laugh,” said she, “but I am sure that in my place you would not have done differently.”
“What an influence the cares of others have upon a man!” said Lopoukhoff; “he is so affected by them that he finally comes to believe that all the precautions of which he is the object are useful. For instance, I might as well have been out for the last three days, and yet I stay in the house. This very morning I desired to go out, but still I said: ‘To be on the safe side I will wait till tomorrow.’”
“Yes, you might have gone out long ago,” added Kirsanoff.
“That is what I call heroism, for really it is a great bore to me, and I should much like to run away at once.”
“My dear friend, it is to pacify me that you are playing the hero. Get ready on the instant if you are so desirous of ending your quarantine forthwith. I must now go to the shop for half an hour. Let us all three go there; it will be a very nice thing on your part to make our shop the object of your first visit. The working-girls will notice it and be much pleased at the attention.”
“Good! Let us go together,” said Lopoukhoff, visibly delighted at the prospect of breathing the fresh air that very afternoon.
“Here is a friend full of tact,” said Véra Pavlovna: “it did not even occur to her that you might not have any desire to come with us, Alexander Matvéitch.” “On the contrary, I am much interested; I have long wanted to see the shop. Your idea is a very happy one.”
In truth, Véra Pavlovna’s idea was a happy one. The young girls were much pleased at receiving Lopoukhoff’s first visit. Kirsanoff was much interested in the shop; given his way of thinking, he could not have helped it. If a special reason had not withheld him, he would have been from the first one of the most zealous professors. In short, an hour passed before they knew it. Véra Pavlovna went with Kirsanoff through the different rooms, showing him everything. They were going from the dining-room to the work-rooms, when Véra Pavlovna was approached by a young girl who originally was not there. The working girl and Kirsanoff gave one glance at each other:
And they kissed each other.
“Sachennka,** my friend, how happy I am at having met you!”
The young girl, laughing and crying, covered him with kisses. When she had recovered from her joy, she said:
“Véra Pavlovna, I cannot talk business today. I cannot leave him. Come, Sachennka, to my room.”
Kirsanoff was no less happy than she. But Véra Pavlovna noticed also much sorrow in his first look after that of recognition. And it was not at all astonishing: the young girl was in the last stage of consumption.
Nastennka Krukoff had entered the shop a year before, being even then very sick. If she had remained in the store where up to that time she had worked, over-work would have killed her long before. But in the shop a way was found of prolonging her life a little. The working girls excused her from sewing altogether, finding her a task less tiresome and less injurious to the health; she performed different functions in the shop, took part in the general administration, and received the orders for work, so that no one could say that she was less useful in the shop than the others.
The Lopoukhoffs went away without awaiting the end of Nastennka’s interview with Kirsanoff.
Nastennka Krukhoff’s Story.
The next morning Nastennka Krukoff came to see Véra Pavlovna.
“I wish to talk with you about what you saw yesterday, Véra Pavlovna,” said she,— and for some minutes she did not know how to continue,— “I should not like you to think unfavorably of him, Vera Pavlovna.”
“Think unfavorably of him! as you yourself think unfavorably of me, Nastassia Borissovna.”
“Another would not have thought as I do; but you know I am not like others.”
“Nastassia Borissovna, you have no right to treat yourself thus. We have known you for a year, and several members of our little society have known you from a still earlier date.”
“Ah! I see that you know nothing of me.”
“On the contrary, I know much about you. Latterly you were the waiting-maid of the actress N.; when she married, you left her to avoid her husband’s father; you were employed in the store of —————, whence you came to us; I know all that and many details besides.”
“Of course I was sure that Maximoff and Cheine, who knew what I used to be, would not run to you with the story. But I thought that you or the others might have heard of it in some other way. Ah! how happy I am that they do not know. But to you I will tell all in order that you may know how good he is. I was a very wicked girl, Véra Pavlovna.”
“You, Nastassia Borissovna?”
[To be continued.]
* Nastennka and Sacha are the diminutives of Nastassia and Alexander.
** A more affectionate diminutive than Sacha.
“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.
Says the goody-goody Providence “Journal,” formerly organ of Senator Anthony, whom a kind Providence lately removed:
Never has a national election more forcibly illustrated the importance of every freeman’s ballot. For hours millions of people throughout the United States were anxiously waiting to ascertain the result of the voting in obscure and far-away towns of New York, the names of which few outside their own immediate neighborhood had ever heard. Yet on the ballots cast in those distant corners of the Empire State appeared to rest the verdict of the Presidential contest. The freeman going to the polls in a backwoods district may by his vote decide who shall be the chief magistrate over fifty-five millions of people, the greatest and wealthiest nation on the face of the globe. It is a proud and it is a grave responsibility. In the words of Whittier:
No just is this,
One cast amiss,
May blast the hope of freedom’s year.
And yet this is what the accredited wise, learned, and pious among us are pleased to call “self-government.” No jest is this, indeed, and it was still less a jest when Carlyle dubbed us a nation of fools. Fifty-five millions of “freemen” hugging the bulletins for hours in feverish anxiety to await the verdict of a few hundred backwoodsmen in western New York as to who should rule over them, is a satire upon our vaunted pretensions to being a government of the whole people which might well start Balaam’s ass from the grave.
But the verdict to be pronounced upon the fifty-five millions of self-governing fools was after all not to come from that direction. One Rev. Burchard, whom the foxy Blaine had summoned to pose as the mouthpiece of his fellow ecclesiastical jugglers in anointing a free-love marriage, could not resist the temptation to treat the self-governing fifty-five millions of fools to a sledge-hammer illustration of that happy rhetorical device known as alliteration. The result was that a few hundred ignorant sensitives each plumped in that sublime “one cast amiss” of the Quaker poet, and the fifty-five million self-governing fools were governed accordingly.
I can reconcile myself to many varieties of stultification, but that an honest and presumedly intelligent man can make it the one sublime boast of our self-governing system that an ignorant backwoodsman or a priest-ridden fanatic may easily deposit in the ballot-box a sceptre fortified beyond appeal, which shall coerce fifty-five millions of “freemen,” bodes an order of insanity that it is difficult to diagnose to my satisfaction.
When, in addition to all this, we reflect that one-half of the people — the women — had no voice at all, and that of the men scarcely over one-fifth had any vote either, the sublime feat of the ignorant backwoodsman or the priest-ridden Romanist sensitive becomes refreshingly interesting.
Even under the outspoken admission of our fifty-five million self-governing friends, “Burchard elected Cleveland.” The student of English history finds in Warwick, surnamed the king-maker, not a few of the robust traits of his time which make him a comparatively respectable figure. But the genius of Republicanism in these self-governing days has brought us face to face with Burchard, the president-maker. This is no jest. In it lies the sublimest boast of the fifty-five million voting fools.
How long sane and honest men can contemplate the points above suggested without turning their backs upon the whole swindle will be evident in due time, The fifty-five million fools are innocently so, since the tricks of statecraft have up to this time forestalled all Anarchistic literature. Our propaganda is now well under way, however, and I fancy I can count the years on my fingers when the Anarchists will be the most powerful reform element in this country.
To the Editor of Liberty:
The “Picket Duty” remarks of November 22 in regard to the importance of “free money” (with which I mainly agree) impel me to say a few words upon the subject. It is desirable, it seems to me, that Liberty should give its ideas upon that subject in a more systematic form than it has yet done. (1) To be sure, it is easy for those who think to see that, if all laws in regard to money were abolished, commerce would readily provide its instruments of exchange. This might be promissory notes, or warehouse receipts, bills of lading, &c.; but, whatever it might be, the Anarchist could not doubt it would be better than that ever issued under monopoly.
Theoretically, at least, Liberty has expressed the idea that any circulating medium should be made redeemable; but in what? If in gold, or in gold and silver, does it not involve the principle of a legal tender, or of a tender of “common consent?” and they do not greatly differ. (2) It seems to me that, the great fraud in regard to money starts just here, and vitiates all forms of finance as of trade. (3) I define money to be, a commodity or representative of a commodity, accepted by or forced upon the common consent, as an invariable ratio and medium of exchange. Now, since the price of all things else is variable and subject to extreme fluctuations, the dollar in exchange, and especially where the exchange is suspended as in borrowing, or buying on credit, becomes, as friend Pink suggests, a “war club” rather than a tool or instrument of commerce.
Pardon me if I inflict some technicalities upon the readers of Liberty. I would discard the use of the word value from questions of exchange, or else divide its several parts, as value in use, value in service and compensation, and value in exchange. But ratio is a much better word. I would then define the Ratio of Utility to be, the proportion in which anything or service effects useful ends, in sustaining human life or adding to human enjoyment,— a constant Ratio.
The Ratio of Service, the proportion in which different services, of the same duration in time, effect useful ends.
The Ratio of Exchange, the proportion in which one commodity or service will exchange for another service or commodity at the same time and place. This is a variable ratio, whose MEAN is the ratio of service.
I cannot stop now to argue the correctness of these definitions. It must be seen that unless a commodity could be found, which would answer every useful purpose, and could be readily obtained by all, it could not be made a tender without inflicting great injustice on the many. But as such commodity cannot be found, a commodity, gold, has been assumed to have an invariable value, although the most variable in value of all the metals, and about the least useful; of a limited and irregular production and widely varying demand. With the addition of silver to the standard, the great injustice to labor is only divided, not changed.
As defined above, the only invariable ratio is that of use. A pound of flour of the same quality will at all times and places satisfy the same demand for food. The hundred weight of coal will at all times and places give off the same amount of heat in combustion, &c.; having no reference either to the money or labor cost. Now, since labor is the only thing which can procure or produce articles of use, that is naturally the controlling element in exchange, and the only thing that commands a stable price or furnishes a stable ratio.
Though gold is assumed as the standard of value, it is well known that for ages the “promise to pay” this has constituted mainly the currency and medium of exchange of most nations.
The method of issuing this promissory money has been a great injustice to industry, and its almost infinite extension of the usurpation of the gold-tender fraud is now robbing labor of a large share of its production, by the control it gives to the usurer and speculator, who can make the rate low when produce is coming under their control, and high when it is being returned for use to the people; and can make money scarce and dear when they loan it, and plenty and cheap when they gather it in.
I think I have shown that the base of the money evil lies mainly in the monstrous assumption that the value of one of the most variable of things should be assumed to be an invariable quantity, and the standard of measurement of all other things A gum elastic yard-stick or gallon measure, or a shifting scale-beam, would suggest far more equitable dealing.
I know of but one invariable standard, and that is labor; but what is its unit? And by what method shall it be expressed? Can Liberty give us light upon this subject? (4) I have yet seen no feasible method by which credit or debt can serve safely as money, nor any honest way in which fiat money can he put in circulation. It appears to me now that, while men seek credit, they will have to pay interest, and that only by restoring opportunity to those who are now denied it by our monopolies of land, of money, and of public franchises, and so relieving them of the necessity of borrowing, can we hope to mitigate the evils of our money and trade iniquities. (5)
Credit being an incompleted exchange, in which one of the equivalents is not transferred, if we are to acknowledge it as an economic transaction, I see not why we should not accept that also where neither of the equivalents are transferred, as in produce and stock-gambling. (6) McLeod, I think, saw this dilemma, and therefore holds that the negotiable promissory note is payment for the thing for which it is given. Yet, nevertheless, at maturity it will require a transfer of the counterbalancing equivalent, just the same as if a mere book account.
Credit is doubtless necessary under an inverted system of industry, finance, and trade; but I am unable to see that it has any place in an honest state of things, except to conserve value, as where one puts things in another’s care. It is vastly convenient, no doubt, for the profit-monger and speculator, as for the usurer, and without it neither could well thrive. In agreeing with the Anarchists that the state should not interfere to prevent, regulate, or enforce credit contracts, perhaps I go beyond them in excluding it from any economic recognition whatever, except as a means of conserving goods from decay and depreciation, involving always a service for which the creditor should pay.
(1.) Liberty is published not so much to thoroughly inform its readers regarding the ideas which it advocates as to interest them to seek this thorough information through other channels. For instance, in regard to free money, there is a book — “Mutual Banking,” by William B. Greene — which sets forth the evils of money monopoly and the blessings of gratuitous credit in a perfectly plain and convincing way to all who will take the pains to study and understand it. Liberty can only state baldly the principles which Greene advocates and hint at some of their applications and results. Whomsoever such statements and hints serve to interest can and will secure the book of me for a small sum. Substantially the same views, presented in different ways, are to be found in the financial writings of Lysander Spooner, Stephen Pearl Andrews, Josiah Warren, and, above all, P. J. Proudhon, whose untranslated works contain untold treasures which I hope some day to put within the reach of English readers.
(2.) Yes, it does involve one of these, but between the two there is all the difference that there is between force and freedom, authority and liberty. And where the tender is one of “common consent,” those who do not like it are at liberty to consent in common to use any other and better one that they can devise
(3.) It is difficult for me to see any fraud in promising to pay a certain thing at a certain time, or on demand, and keeping the promise. That is what we do when we issue redeemable money and afterwards redeem it. The fraud in regard to money consists not in this, but in limiting by law the security for these promises to pay to a special kind of property, limited in quantity and easily monopolizable.
(4.) It is doubtful if there is anything more variable in its purchasing power than labor. The causes of this are partly natural, such as the changing conditions of production, and partly and principally artificial, such as the legal monopolies that impart fictitious values. But labor expended in certain directions is unquestionably more constant in its average results than when expended in other directions. Hence the advantage of using the commodities resulting from the former for the redemption of currency whenever redemption shall be demanded. Whether gold and silver are among these commodities is a question, not of principle, but of statistics. As a matter of fact, the holders of good redeemable money seldom ask for any other redemption than its acceptance in the market and its final cancellation by the issuer’s restoration of the securities on which it was issued. But in case any other redemption is desired, it is necessary to adopt for the purpose some commodity easily transferable and most nearly invariable in value.
(5.) Does Mr. Ingalls mean that all money must be abolished? I can see no other inference from his position. For there are only two kinds of money,— commodity money and credit money. The former he certainly does not believe in, the latter he thinks fraudulent and unsafe. Are we, then, to stop exchanging the products of our labor?
(6.) It is the natural right of every man to gamble if he chooses to, and he has as good a right to make his bets on the rise and fall of grain prices as on anything else; only he must not gamble with loaded dice, or be allowed special privileges whereby he can control the price of grain. Hence, in a free and open market, these transactions where neither equivalent is transferred are legitimate enough. But they are unwise, because, apart from the winning or losing of the bet, there is no advantage to be gained from them. Transactions, on the other hand, in which only one equivalent is immediately transferred are frequently of the greatest advantage, as they enable men to get possession of tools which they immediately need but cannot immediately pay for. Of course the promise to pay is liable to be more or less valuable at maturity than when issued, but so is the property originally transferred. The borrower is no more exempt than the lender from the effects of variations in value. And the interests of the holder of property who neither borrows or lends is also just as much affected by them. There is an element of chance in all property relations. So far as this is due to monopoly and privilege, we must do our best to abolish it; so far as it is natural and inevitable, we must get along with it as best we can, but not be frightened by it into discarding credit and money, the most potent instruments of association and civilization.
In answer to Liberty’s column and a half on our criticism of his first notice of us, we are glad to notice his partial conversion and accept his apology.
A discussion on the above theme appeared recently in the columns of our fellow-soldiers, Liberty and “The Alarm.” Setting aside the merely technical word-fight over “to own” and “to possess,” we believe it our duty to take part in that controversy. While doing this, we would most emphatically say that, in spite of our really different standpoints, we see Communistic Anarchists as our best friends, who, with logical inevitableness would have to come to our point of view if they did not prefer to become Communists or Social Democrats. We will not here attempt to explain their hesitation in accepting Anarchistic principles with all their logical consequences, or to consider whether it arises from practical considerations relative to the agitation or is that peculiar ideal echo of earlier entertained ideas. It suffices to know of their recognition of the total worthlessness of all authority or government, as opposed to the right of self-determination of the individual.
The expression “Communistic Anarchists” constitutes a contradictio in adjecto, a contradiction in itself, in so far as with the adjective “Communistic” an idea of constraint or compulsion is associated. If, however, that is not the case, if it be held as meaning only a wish, a view of the best method of reaching the greatest possible material good of a free Anarchistical society, then, in our opinion, the adjective is superfluous, and therefore of more than doubtful worth. Also, the use of the same does not tally with the meaning that the spoken word involves. But in the discussion between Liberty and “The Alarm” the question over the meaning of the word “Communistic” has already found its answer in the demand of “The Alarm” to make all means of production common property. It is a quasi law of nature among men that the product of work belongs to its producers, the workers who can freely dispose of it. This the “Alarm” acknowledges also, but only to revoke it in the above-presented proposal.
But if we reflect only a moment over the apparently simple question of the attributes in common of the means of production,— land, powers of nature, machinery, wood, minerals, seeds, etc.,— what are not means of production? Will the “Alarm” or anyone undertake to draw a sharp dividing line? It is an impossibility. Who shall decide? And whoever decides, where is the Anarchy?
What is common property, which is not controlled by an organized association? Such a property would be the property of every one, and no one would have a reason for decreeing capital punishment for the abuse of the same. If the “Alarm” understands by common property that of an organized society, how will it then escape the consequences? True, faithful friends, we give our comrades to consider that, in our opinion, every alliance of Anarchy with Communism is a logical salto mortale, which we, however difficult it may be, must avoid for love of litierty and our principles.
How Labor is Robbed.
The only methods by which the laborer is robbed of the fruits of his toil are interest, profit, and rent, and until these are abolished entirely the opportunity remains for some one to get something for nothing, and a system that allows the getting of something for nothing is a robber system. All wealth is produced by labor, and if anybody gets wealth otherwise than by labor he gets it dishonestly, no matter how many statute laws there are that favor it. Because a statute law allows the doing of anything it does not necessarily follow that the doing of it is right. If the working people could only be made to realize the fact that it is by statute law that they are robbed, they would take measures to abolish about ninety-nine out of every hundred that we now have, and look with suspicion on what remained. Interest, profit, and rent, all find their greatest support in legislative enactments.
Railroad Monopoly and Machinery.
The following additions to “Edgeworth’s” review of General Trumbull’s new book on free trade, printed in the last number of Liberty, arrived too late to appear with the body of the article.
Whipping the Devil round the Stump.
To point the moral and adorn the tale, hear the complaint of a Californian, Frank Sullivan, a Democratic protectionist, in the San Francisco “Chronicle:”
A Republican Congress established free trade with the Sandwich Islands, and therefore Mr. Spreckels controls the sugar rade. He likes protection as far as the East goes, so that the East cannot compete with him in the sugar trade on this coast, but he does not like protection for the Sandwich Island trade. It is an outrage to pay such a man a tribute for sugar. He himself pays one hundred thousand dollars a year to the Central Pacific Railroad Company to shut out Eastern sugar from our State. The people are under the feet of Spreckels.
This instance does not make against Free Trade, but shows its insufficiency as a mere negation of protective tariffs by government, since monopolizing capital in one branch of importation by water can by conspiracy with another branch of monopoly, in railroad transportation, ransom the public at discretion. But for the concessions of privilege accorded by government to the Central Pacific road, would not such monopoly have been impossible, from the absence or modification of one of its factors? Were the growth of the railroad system not fostered as a hot bed culture by speculators, but left to spontaneous evolution by the wants of a country, the much greater number of its stockholders would be a guarantee against rates of transportation oppressive to commerce. As to the other factor, the enormous accumulation of capital in private hands, the data necessary for tracing back to causes are absent in the case of Spreckels, but it is safe to affirm that as a general rule the records of these fortunes prejudicial to the public interest will show that government has afforded their opportunity. So long as that hundred-headed hydra exists, it is of little use to cut off any particular head. Its destruction will not destroy the spirit of monopoly, but will leave it to fight its own battles, unsupported by a centralized authority. The granting of vast tracts of land to railroad companies is not merely a monstrous injustice of privilege in itself, but is exploited in such a way as to be the basis of other privileges: e. g., to compare railroads with private property: for the latter negotiable mortgages represent sixty per cent. of the value. The Southern Pacific Railroad is mortgaged for $46,000,000; it ought therefore to be worth $76,000,000. It declares for taxation, in a sworn statement to the Board of Equalization, its value as only $7,514,221. It has issued upon its mortgage over five times its alleged valuation in bonds, and these bonds are at par in the market. From whose pockets does the difference come?
Again! United States law restricts railroads to ten per cent. profits annually. The Southern Pacific Railroad is returned in Poor’s Manual for 1883 as making $3,240,700. On that basis, it ought to be worth nearly four times its sworn value.
Again. Of eleven million acres donated to it by the United States untaxed, it retains nine million, on all of which it refuses to take out patents, which would render it liable to taxation.
Again: By corruption and bribery it defeats in committee measures directed against the perpetuation of its privileges. Instance, in 1875, bill No. 50, to compel railroads to pay taxes on all lands to which they have legal title, whether patented or not. Huntingdon wrote to Colton, January 4, 1875: “Friend C———n, I have ordered all bills introduced in Congress to be sent to Sanderson that have any bearing on our interests. Many bills, no doubt, like Senate bill 50, will be introduced, that are bad, and the only way to kill them will be in committee.” It was killed accordingly. Thus, remarks Mr. D. N. Delmas before the State Board of Equalization at Sacramento, “the U. S. has discriminated against all other people and in favor of land grant railroads. Thus the railroad power is steadily enslaving the minds and temperaments of the people.”
Although not exempt from inconveniences, such as a scalp tax, or stampede of stock by the Indians, these our predecessors were in regard to the interests of actual settlers incomparably safer guardians of the soil than the United States government has proved. First, it has taxed us for the expropriation of the Indians, and then, by donating the expropriated soil to a few corporations, it has virtually enslaved us to a landed aristocracy.
Note on Machinery.
It is singular that, while considering the Free Trade agitation as an American lesson, General Trumbull should pooh-pooh the machinery issue, which, already in 1842 so sensible a cause of distress and complication in economic reforms for English statesmen, has now become in both hemispheres the question of questions whose solution dwarfs Free Trade and every other into insignificance. Cobbett met it evasively by arguing that new inventions of machinery would not throw laborers out of employment if only they were gradual enough, for that if makes a subjunctive that has not yet passed into the indicative mood.
Spartacus in the “Alarm,” quoting British statistics, for a recent decade, shows that, while production and wealth have progressively increased, the demand for labor has decreased, and that wages have fallen even where prices have risen. In the great coal production of England this fall of wages has coincided with an increased output of ninety tons per hand per annum and a rise in price of nearly double what it was in 1869. In cotton spinning a man and child now produce about six times as much as in 1845, and the whole number of hands employed continues to diminish. During the last decade of the census the number of employes has fallen by one-eighth. In the silk trade by one-third, in the wool and worsted by one-eleventh, in the shoe trade by about one-fifth in 20 years.
Corresponding with the increase of manufactured produce has been the conversion of farms into pasture grounds. These have gained in area in one decade 2,094,940 acres, while there are 960,517 acres less under culture, one-ninth fewer farmers, and one-tenth fewer farm laborers. The latter should, on the contrary, have increased by 23,916 to preserve their previous ratio with the population.
In the iron trades wages have fallen by half since 1874. In Birmingham two-thirds of all operatives average but half a week’s work and nearly one-sixth are without any work. Wherever practicable, women and children are employed in rapidly increasing numbers, to the exclusion of men and reduction of wages. The industries of adulteration are poisoning their operatives.
Similar facts all over civilization would make a massive volume, all proving the vital necessity of revolutionizing the tenure of capital and without delay, under pain of the auto da fe.
A Word For the New Jerusalem.
Up to your November 8, just received, I have found myself in warm sympathy with all your writers, and not least with “X.” In his “New Jerusalem Reformers,” I may still agree with his judgment, if in view of the same cases; but otherwise, the tone adopted against segregation appears to me exclusive, unjustly harsh, and proceeding from a subjective bias. That the literati and artists of a city in several important features the most advanced and yet among the least corrupt of the world should pooh-pooh the idea of their leaving it to rusticate I well understand, and fully appreciate the soundness of “X’s” position with regard to you, but circumstances alter cases. The facts that “X” seems to overlook are:
1. The more effective, although passive, resistance to government oppressions which can be made by an industrial society mainly or entirely self-supporting and abstaining from taxed goods.
2. The education of such societies in Anarchistic autonomy by experience in spontaneous evolution.
3. Those passional affinities which, in our civilization at large, generally detach the advocates of unpopular principles from their proper intellectual work, in order to subserve the exigencies of the family, would, on the contrary, unite in a stricter alliance the members of a segregated association.
4. By segregation only can that hold upon the soil be gained which is the true primitive basis of social relations, and which embraces plant and animal in the circuits of living force, quite otherwise than as they appear in the market or on the table.
The simplicity of most operations in gardening and farming, together with their healthful conditions, render them more convenient as relays of action, often better than simple rest, for those mainly occupied with either letters or machinery. Let me then ask “X” to extend his views in a more catholic spirit.
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. 55.
This natural unpremeditated effect of policy on the unpossessed passions of mankind appears on other occasions. The very name of a politician, a statesman, is sure to cause terror and hatred; it has always connected with it the ideas of treachery, cruelty, fraud, and tyranny; and those writers, who have faithfully unveiled the mysteries of state-freemasonry, have ever been held in general detestation for even knowing so perfectly a theory so detestable. The case of Machiavel seems at first sight something hard in that respect. He is obliged to bear the iniquities of those whose maxims and rules of government he published. His speculation is more abhorred than their practice.
But if there were no other arguments against artificial society than this I am going to mention, methinks it ought to fall by this one only. All writers on the science of policy are agreed, and they agree with experience, that all governments must frequently infringe the rules of justice to support themselves; that truth must give way to dissimulation, honesty to convenience, and humanity itself to the reigning interest. The whole of this mystery of iniquity is called the reason of state. It is a reason which I own I cannot penetrate. What sort of a protection is this of the general right, that is maintained by infringing the rights of particulars? What sort of justice is this, which is enforced by breaches of its own laws? These paradoxes I leave to be solved by the able heads of legislators and politicians. For my part, I say what a plain man would say on such an occasion. I can never believe that any institution, agreeable to nature, and proper for mankind, could find it necessary, or even expedient, in any case whatsoever, to do what the best and worthiest instincts of mankind warn us to avoid. But no wonder that what is set up in opposition to the state of nature should preserve itself by trampling upon the law of nature.
To prove that these sorts of policed societies are a violation offered to nature and a constraint upon the human mind, it needs only to look upon the sanguinary measures and instruments of violence which are everywhere used to support them. Let us take a review of the dungeons, whips, chains, racks, gibbets, with which every society is abundantly stored, by which hundreds of victims are annually offered up to support a dozen or two in pride and madness, and millions in an abject servitude and dependence. There was a time when I looked with a reverential awe on these mysteries of policy; but age, experience, and philosophy have rent the veil; and I view this sanctum sanctorum, at least, without an enthusiastic admiration. I acknowledge, indeed, the necessity of such a proceeding in such institutions; but I must have a very mean opinion of institutions where such proceedings are necessary.
It is a misfortune that in no part of the globe natural liberty and natural religion are to be found pure and free from the mixture of political adulterations; yet we have implanted in us by Providence, ideas, axioms, rules, of what is pious, just, fair, honest, which no political craft nor learned sophistry can entirely expel from our breasts. By these we judge, and we cannot otherwise judge, of the several artificial modes of religion and society, and determine of them as they approach to, or recede from, this standard.
The simplest form of government is despotism, where all the inferior orbs of power are moved merely by the will of the supreme, and all that are subject to them directed in the same manner, merely by the occasional will of the magistrate. This form, as it is the most simple, so it is infinitely the most general. Scarce any part of the world is exempted from its power. And in those few places where men enjoy what they call liberty, it is continually in a tottering situation, and makes greater and greater strides to that gulf of despotism, which at last swallows up every species of government. The manner of ruling being directed merely by the will of the weakest and generally the worst man in the society, becomes the most foolish and capricious thing, at the same time that it is the most terrible and destructive, that well can be conceived. In a despotism the principal person finds that, let the want, misery, and indigence of his subjects be what they will, he can yet possess abundantly of everything to gratify his most insatiable wishes. He does more. He finds that these gratifications increase in proportion to the wretchedness and slavery of his subjects. Thus encouraged both by passion and interest to trample on the public welfare, and by his station placed above both shame and fear, he proceeds to the most horrid and shocking outrages upon mankind. Their persons become victims of his suspicions. The slightest displeasure is death; and a disagreeable aspect is often as great a crime as high treason. In the court of Nero, a person of learning, of unsuspected loyalty was put to death for no other reason than that he had a pedantic countenance which displeased the emperor. This very monster of mankind appeared in the beginning of his reign to be a person of virtue. Many of the greatest tyrants on the records of history have begun their reigns in the fairest manner. But the truth is, this unnatural power corrupts both the heart and the understanding. And to prevent the least hope of amendment, a king is ever surrounded by a crowd of infamous flatterers, who find their account in keeping him from the least light of reason, till all ideas of rectitude and justice are utterly erased from his mind. When Alexander had in his fury inhumanly butchered one of his best friends and bravest captains, on the return of reason he began to conceive a horror suitable to the guilt of such a murder. In this juncture, his council came to his assistance. But what did his council? They found him out a philosopher who gave him comfort. And in what manner did this philosopher comfort him for the loss of such a man, and heal his conscience, flagrant with the smart of such a crime? You have the matter at length in Plutarch. He told him “that, let a sovereign do what he will, all his actions are just and lawful, because they are his.” The palaces of all princes abound with such courtly philosophers. The consequence was such as might be expected. He grew every day a monster more abandoned to unnatural lust, to debauchery, to drunkenness, and to murder. And yet this was originally a great man, of uncommon capacity, and a strong propensity to virtue. But unbounded power proceeds, step by step, until it has eradicated every laudable principle. It has been remarked that there is no prince so bad whose favorites and ministers are not worse. There is hardly any prince without a favorite by whom he is governed in as arbitrary a manner as he governs the wretches subjected to him. Here the tyranny is doubled. There are two courts, and two interests; both very different from the interests of the people. The favorite knows that the regard of a tyrant is as inconstant and capricious as that of a woman; and concluding his time to be short, he makes haste to fill up the measure of his iniquity in rapine, in luxury, and in revenge. Every avenue to the throne is shut up. He oppresses and ruins the people, whilst he persuades the prince that those murmurs raised by his own oppression are the effects of disaffection to the prince’s government. Then is the natural violence of despotism inflamed and aggravated by hatred and revenge. To deserve well of the state is a crime against the prince. To be popular, and to be a traitor, are considered as synonymous terms. Even virtue is dangerous, as an aspiring quality, that claims an esteem by itself, and independent of the countenance of the court. What has been said of the chief is true of the inferior officers of this species of government; each in his province exercising the same tyranny, and grinding the people by an oppression, the more severely felt, as it is near them, and exercised by base and subordinate persons. For the gross of the people, they are considered as a mere herd of cattle; and really in a little time become no better; all principle of honest pride, all sense of the dignity of their nature, is lost in their slavery. The day, says Homer, which makes man a slave takes away half his worth; and, in fact, he loses every impulse to action but that low and base one of fear. In this kind of government human nature is not only abused and insulted, but it is actually degraded and sunk into a species of brutality. The consideration of this made Mr. Locke say, with great justice, that a government of this kind was worse than anarchy; indeed, it is so abhorred and detested by all who live under forms that have a milder appearance that there is scarce a rational man in Europe that would not prefer death to Asiatic despotism. Here then we have the acknowledgment of a great philosopher, that an irregular state of nature is preferable to such a government; we have the consent of all sensible and generous men, who carry it yet further, and avow that death itself is preferable; and yet this species of government, so justly condemned and so generally detested, is what infinitely the greater part of mankind groan under, and have groaned under from the beginning. So that, by sure and uncontested principles, the greatest part of the governments on earth must be concluded tyrannies, impostures, violations of the natural rights of mankind, and worse than the most disorderly anarchies. How much other forms exceed this, we shall consider immediately.
In all parts of the world, mankind, however debased, retains still the sense of feeling; the weight of tyranny, at last, becomes insupportable; but the remedy is not so easy: in general, the only remedy by which they attempt to cure the tyranny is to change the tyrant. This is, and always was, the case, for the greater part. In some countries, however, were found men of more penetration, who discovered “that to live by one man’s will was the cause of all men’s misery.” They therefore changed their former method, and, assembling the men in their several societies, the most respectable for their understanding and fortunes, they confided to them the charge of the public welfare. This originally formed what is called an aristocracy. They hoped it would be impossible that such a number could ever join in any design against the general good; and they promised themselves a great deal of security and happiness from the united counsels of so many able and experienced persons. But it is now found by abundant experience that an aristocracy and a despotism differ but in name; and that a people, who are in general excluded from any share of the legislation, are, to all intents and purposes, as much slaves, when twenty, independent of them, govern, as when but one domineers. The tyranny is even more felt, as every individual of the nobles has the haughtiness of a sultan; the people are more miserable, as they seem on the verge of liberty, from which they are forever debarred. This fallacious idea of liberty, whilst it presents a vain shadow of happiness to the subject, binds faster the chains of his subjection. What is left undone by the natural avarice and pride of those who are raised above the others is completed by their suspicions, and their dread of losing an authority which has no support in the common utility of the nation. A Genoese or a Venetian republic is a concealed despotism; where you find the same pride of the rulers, the same base subjection of the people — the same bloody maxims of a suspicious policy. In one respect the aristocracy is worse than the despotism. A body politic, whilst it retains its authority, never changes its maxims; a despotism, which is this day horrible to a supreme degree, by the caprice natural to the heart of man, may, by the same caprice otherwise exerted, be as lovely the next; in a succession it is possible to meet with some good princes. If there have been Tiberiuses, Caligulas, Neros, there have been likewise the serener days of Vespasians, Tituses, Trajans, and Antonines. But a body politic is not influenced by caprice or whim; it proceeds in a regular manner; its succession is insensible; and every man, as he enters it, either has, or soon attains, the spirit of the whole body. Never was it known that an aristocracy which was haughty and tyrannical in one century became easy and mild in the next. In effect, the yoke of this species of government is so galling, that, whenever the people have got the least power, they have shaken it off with the utmost indignation, and established a popular form. And when they have not had strength enough to support themselves, they have thrown themselves into the arms of despotism, as the more eligible of the two evils. This latter was the case of Denmark, which sought a refuge from the oppression of its nobility in the strong-hold of arbitrary power. Poland has at present the name of republic, and it is one of the aristocratic form; but it is well known that the little finger of this government is heavier than the loins of arbitrary power in most nations. The people are not only politically, but personally, slaves, and treated with the utmost indignity. The republic of Venice is somewhat more moderate; yet even here, so heavy is the aristocratic yoke, that the nobles have been obliged to enervate the spirit of their subjects by every sort of debauchery. They have denied them the liberty of reason, and they have made them amends, by what a base soul will think a more valuable liberty, by not only allowing, but encouraging, them to corrupt themselves in the most scandalous manner. They consider their subjects as the farmer does the hog he keeps to feast upon. He holds him fast in his sty, but allows him to wallow as much as he pleases in his beloved filth and gluttony. So scandalously debauched a people as that of Venice is to be met with nowhere else. High, low, men, women, clergy, and laity, are all alike. The ruling nobility are no less afraid of one another than they are of the people, and, for that reason, politically enervate their own body by the same effeminate luxury by which they corrupt their subjects. They are impoverished by every means which can be invented, and they are kept in a perpetual terror by the horrors of a state inquisition. Here you see a people deprived of all rational freedom, and tyrannized over by about two thousand men; and yet this body of two thousand are so far from enjoying any liberty, by the subjection of the rest, that they are in an infinitely severer state of slavery; they make themselves the most degenerate and unhappy of mankind, for no other purpose than that they may the more effectually contribute to the misery of a whole nation. In short, the regular and methodical proceedings of an aristocracy are more intolerable than the very excesses of a despotism, and, in general, much further from any remedy.
[To be continued.]
Then and Now.
A Chapter on Deception.
Boston, December 13, 2084.
My Dear Louise:
You must not think from what I write you that Mr. De Domain and I are constantly taking different sides on all subjects. We often agree very easily, and have many pleasant conversations in which not the shadow of a dispute occurs. It is only occasionally that a governmental whirlwind comes up and blows us far apart. The subject of the ballot was material for several heated discussions,— all perfectly good natured, of course,— the major points of which I have written you.
Finally, on a recent evening, I thought I would close the discussion with a question that my friend would find it impossible to answer. I asked him: “If governments were humbugs,— or worse than that, as you claim,— how was it that all but a very few of the people acknowledged that such governments were necessary? Were not the people of those times better judges of what they and the times required than you are today? They had hard, cold facts to deal with; you have but the skeleton of history. Anarchy may be much better for you today than governments, but you are a more advanced people, far enough advanced, in fact, to do without the bolts and bars that were required two and three centuries ago.”
This did not have just the effect that I anticipated. Instead of acting as cold water, it proved fuel for the fire of his argumentative faculties.
“The fact that the people acknowledged a thing as necessary does not prove that it was a good thing. It does not even prove that it was a good thing for that day and generation. It does, however, prove that people are very easily deceived, just what I have endeavored to impress upon your mind for some months.
“In 1058 Edward the Confessor succeeded to the throne of England. So history says. His people were, many of them, aflicted with a disease known, in the form in which it appears to-day, as scrofula. Edward was a very holy man, and he conceived the idea of curing this disease by the laying on of his hands, as he had read that Christ cured other diseases a thousand years before. His story tells us that the cures were wonderful. No one has ever been able, so far as I know, to explain just what this peculiar medicinal quality given to Edward was, or in what way it effected its miraculous work. It may have exuded from his finger-tips or have passed from them like an electric current,— the people never looked into this, I believe. It was sufficient for them to know that the touch of the king cured this disease, the worst of the times.
“This curative power of Edward did not die with him. Together with his title it was handed down through the succeeding generations until the time of George I., who, in 1714, somehow lost the knack. I believe history says the people refused longer to be deceived in this way.
“Now, during all these seven centuries, I think it safe to say that not one person out of a million ever for a moment doubted that the king had the power to cure the king’s-evil — for so it was called — by the laying on of his hands. For seven centuries the people of England — our ancestors — strove to discover no other remedy for this terrible disease, simply because they saw no need of remedy other than tne one they had,— the touch of the king.
“Perhaps Edward the Confessor was honest and believed he had the power to cure. Perhaps all the long line of kings down to George I. were honest in their belief. There can be no doubt but the people thought the king’s touch a cure. But all this simply proves how easily the people can be deceived; how anxious they are to be deceived. But it does not prove that it is better for them to be deceived. Because a man can be gulled does not prove that he is a smart man, or that he knows what is best for himself in his day and generation.
“There are certain general principles running down through the ages whose workings we can easily trace back half a dozen centuries perfectly well by the skeleton history you speak of. History does not entirely ignore the hard, cold facts, either. It hints, occasionally, at slavery, starvation, and death. Of course it has most to do with kings and princes and statesmen, but for those who have been up so high we know there must have been a foundation deep down in the mud, and we know that that foundation, which bore all of this load of splendor, must have been the people,— the poor, starving, struggling, weary, deluded people. They may not have been quite as intelligent as the people to-day, or even as the people of your time, but will you say that even a republic like that of the United States would not have been better for them? If they had lived under a republic, you, two centuries ago, would have lived under Anarchy.”
Mr. De Domain nevfer stopped once during all this to give me a chance to answer him. Perhaps it is just as well. I am sure I do not know what I should have said. I shall, however, think the matter over carefully, and I may see some way in which I can show him the fallacy of his reasoning.
[Terre Haute Express.]
Why this universal wailing
Over all this land prevailing?
This entreaty unavailing? Why this gloom and dark despair?
Seal the sun of hope is setting,
Man his brother is forgetting,
And a curse le slowly falling
On this land of promise rare;
And the faces are appalling
That were once so bright and fair —
Want and misery everywhere!
Mark the toiler, sowing, reaping,
And the golden sheaves upheaping,
While a hidden monster, sweeping for his own insatiate maw,
Gathers fast and faster, faster
Though privation and disaster
Smite the weary, sweating toiler
Till the pangs of hunger gnaw;
Never does the fierce despoiler
His rapacious grasp withdraw;
Greed so cruel knows no law.
Hear the workshop’s ceaseless clatter,
Hear the workmen’s footsteps patter,
When they join or quickly scatter, when to each a task is shown;
Each a burden carries, double
Load of teil and load of trouble;
For an iron master watches
From a secret door, unknown;
From each mouth he quickly snatches
Every word and meaning tone —
He is master, here, alone.
How the pistons heave and tumble!
How the wheels do drum and rumble!
How obedient — not a grumble when those brawny arms control.
Strange, that while such puny muscle
Rules so surely all this bustle,
A more potent power, uncanny,
Rules still surer brain and soul;
Strange indeed, the brawny many
Let a baleful power control
Wealth of brawn, and brain, and soul!
In the gloomy mine descending,
Where the flickering lights are blending,
Note how close is death impending — foul his breath upon the air;
Careless is the warning spoken,
Scarce the delvers heed the token,
For a monster, darker, grimmer,
Makes them madly, rashly dare,
And through lamplight’s glare and glimmer,
Holds them fiercely, surely there,
With the bravery of despair.
Go to yonder lonely garret,
If your heart is strong to bear it,
Mark the half-bent shadow where it darks the black wall, scarcely more,
Where a famished woman sitting,
Works with patience unremitting.
With her weary, ceaseless stitching,
Keeps the wolf just out the door;
While a demon, still enriching
Self with stealings from the store,
Robs her pittance lower and lower.
Is this the land where hands of Labor
Clasp the hands of toiling neighbor,
And the plowshare, not the sabre, is the sceptre held supreme?
Is it here where honest toilers
Need not fear of strong despoilers,
Since all men are free and equal?
Ah! if things are what they seem,
This is but the bitter sequel,
Waking of a century’s dream,
A turning back of Progress’ stream.
Shall this demon reign eternal
O’er this blessed land fraternal?
Shall enchantment so infernal hold us ever ’neath its spell?
No! By all the powers o’er given
From this land he shall be driven,
USURY be hurled, unshriven,
To be lowest depths of hell;
Then a mighty shout be given,
Hear the hosts their voices swell,
LABOR CONQUERS — ALL IS WELL!
Diderot’s View of Life.
To be born into imbecility amid pain and cries; to be the plaything of ignorance, error, want, disease, wickedness, and passions; to return step by step to imbecility, from the time when you begin to lisp until the time when you begin to dote; to dwell among knaves and charlatans of all sorts; to be extinguished between one man who feels your pulse and another who disturbs your brain; to know not whence you came, why you came, whither you go,— such is what is called the most important gift of our parents and of nature, life.
The Labor Question in the South.
To the Editor of Liberty:
I think with you that the labor or social question will never be solved by the ballot-box, but I believe the ballot-box will be the means of advertising labor principles and in a great measure will prepare the minds of people for a radical change in society and social laws (or, if you do not like the word “law,” as I do not myself, substitute some other word). For this reason and for no other do I still continue to walk up to the polls and attempt to vote my principles. If we had People’s party electoral ticket in this State, I would vote for Ben Butler for that reason alone, but we have not. Both of the old parties have complete possession, and are straining every nerve to save their country at their country’s expense. The labor element here is two-thirds colored, and the colored people, take them as a class, appear to have exchanged their old slave masters for the mastery of the Republican party, under whose authority and complete control they seem to be. I sometimes vote with them when there is a local issue that will justify me in doing so, but I must confess it is more because I am in sympathy with them as the wage-receiving class of the south, than because I expect any material benefit to come of such voting. Occasionally I will meet one with whom I can talk understandingly on the subject of “profit and interest,” and again a few others who appear to be capable of understanding basic principles when explained to them in a simple and familiar manner; but I do not give up the hope that the time is not far off when the colored man of the south will be able to join hands with his white brother and assist in the complete emancipation of both. As a race they are good-natured, always ready to laugh at the slightest provocation; in order to reach their judgment you must appeal to their emotional and sentimental nature first. Astute politicians understand this, and lead them like sheep out of the social mud into the political mire. On the other hand, the so-called Democratic party appeals to the selfish prejudices of the white industrial slaves, and they follow their masters with as blind a faith as the colored citizen. Such is the political situation south at present. Both parties serve the purpose of dividing the people and preventing unity of purpose and unity of interests.
Welaka, Florida, September 19, 1884.
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.