“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.
- Replogle, no longer having a paper of his own, desires to state through Liberty that he approves the motives of Elmina Drake Slenker, upholds her right to choose her own words, agrees with her that plain words are chaste in their effect, and solicits the interest of his friends in her behalf, now that she is in Comstock’s clutches.
The first number of “Honesty,” the new Anarchistic paper published in Melbourne, Australia, has come to hand, and justifies all the good words said of it in the last issue of Liberty. It has twelve pages, is issued monthly, and costs eighty-five cents a year, including foreign postage. Liberty will receive subscriptions for “Honesty.” A sample copy of the first number will be mailed on receipt of ten cents.
The dignity and serenity shown by Elmina Drake Slenker in a situation more desperate than that of any previous radical worker whom Comstock has prosecuted command my sincere admiration. The insinuation of the “Truth Seeker” that she may be insane is a shameful insult. If that paper would put her in an insane asylum because it differs with her, I cannot see why it should combat the position of banker Truesdell of Syracuse, who would like to imprison Anarchists because he differs with them.
The boston “Investigator,” in speaking of Lysander Spooner’s death, says that he was “one of the radical school of Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Elizur Wright, etc.” Inasmuch as Spooner’s “Unconstitutionality of Slavery” was the most conspicuous anti-Garrisonian document ever printed, and inasmuch as Wendell Phillips was the most conspicuous critic of that pamphlet, the “Investigator’s” remark seems to indicate an effort on its part to make its ignorance of Lysander Spooner and his ideas as conspicuous as possible.
A letter has reached me from P. J. Proudhon, in which he informs me that he is not at all pleased with nty undertaking to translate into the English language his “work while in materiality,” he having discovered on entering spirit life that error is mixed up with it, and that the sovereignty of the individual is but a relative term, inasmuch as all life is a unit. I am sorry to displease mv old master, but I fear I shall have to join him in spirit life before I can see the mistakes which he now confesses. I can follow only that light which I see. Hence the publication of Proudhon’s works will be continued until further notice.
I am very grateful to my old friend, Dr. J. H. Swain, of San Francisco, for coming to iny defence in the columns of “Lucifer.” being a brainy and not a sentimental Anarchist, of course he sees that to set up legal marriage in vindication of Anarchy is in the highest degree absurd. He condemns me on one or two points, however,— chiefly for urging others not to subscribe to the defence fund. He says: “Tucker could not determine what was right for others in that matter. His duty was limited to taking his stand and giving his reasons. Those in agreement needed no warning, and it would not and ought not to influence others.” This is tantamount to saying that a man, having to construct a syllogism, for instance, is within his right if he prints the premises, but becomes a usurper when he prints the conclusion. It seems to me, on the contrary, that, when one prints a conclusion preceded by premises, he thereby shows that he depends solely upon the premises as authority for his conclusion, and that, in stating his conclusion, he does not pretend to impose it upon others except by force of logic. The dictator never gives reasons.
A Plea for Individualism.
[Rejected by the Open Court.]
To the Editor of the Open Court:
A friend has kindly sent me a copy of the first number of your paper. I have read its contents carefully and with delight. It is just what we want. I hope it will have a long life. “Religion on a scientific basis,” — yes. Religion can afford to be and must be that. Else it is not religion, but its caricature: superstition of some Ism.
I would like to say a few words with reference to Mr. Potter’s article, “Society and the Individual.” There is a point or two which the writer did not succeed in making quite clear to the average mind,— at least, not quite clear to me.
On page 1, column 2, Mr. Potter tells us that the “concentration of energy in individual faculty and power is clearly [italics mine] not nature’s highest nor final achievement. This is means, not an end.” And on this last sentence or assertion pivots all the remainder of his argument. This granted, his position is strong, invulnerable. This questioned, his whole argument loses its stronghold. “So far at least,” the writer goes on to assert, “as concerns the forms of life below man, individual organism” does not exist “for its own sake, but for the sake of the species to which it belongs.” Right here I would like to ask the gentleman for his “authority.” I am not a scientist or physiologist, and do not dispute the statement, but simply ask for information. We men, it is true, are apt to value a horse, for instance, mainly for its breeding capacity. A stallion is always very high-priced in the market, and, if it can he proven that its ancestry had the same high qualities, its price is that much the higher. Still it may be reasonably questioned whether the horse from his standpoint would quite agree to man’s view of the matter. He might claim that his individuality is main and foremost in his existence and his procreation a merely incidental circumstance; although he may take pride in seeing a strong, healthy, beautiful reproduction of himself in his offspring. Or perhaps, if he he a “cranky” horse, with some strange notions of liberty and independence in his head, he may even pity and almost hate the faultless child, knowing as he does by bitter experience the fate that awaits it at the hands of man. We know of some analogous cases among the whilom “beasts of burden” of the South.
But let the horse’s opinion be what it may; if we accept Mr. Potter’s statement as true, then it seems to me that it is a fatal doctrine when applied to human nature. If the individual shall really have to strive for his betterment only with the view of the aggrandizement of the race or of Society, I fear the individual’s ambition would soon begin to flag and by and by die out altogether. Does not Mr. Potter himself admit (but a few lines before) “that nature produces strong, capable, masterful individuals and races through the principal (principle?) of selfism; or of each being put under the necessity to care for its own existence, to maintain its own rights, to provide for its own prosperity”?
Besides, what is society but the aggregate of individuals? Where is it but in the imagination of poets or the assertion of tyrants? The other day Professor Adler in Chickering Hall grew even more eloquent than usual when speaking of the “State.” What is the State? he exclaimed. Where is it, where does it live? In Albany, in the State House? or in Washington, in the White House? Is it in the body of the legislators or in the senate? No, no! It exists only in the people’s imagination! (Would that Professor Adler would ponder upon these his own words when he lets loose on the poor Anarchist?, in Chicago and the like!) Now, is not the same true of the phantom, Society, whether in its narrower application, in which case Mrs. Grundy claims to the it, somewhat as Napoleon claimed to he l’Etat, or in its widest and broadest signification, when it purports to stand for mankind? Where does it live? one might exclaim with Professor Adler. And, with him, answer: Nowhere, but in the imagination would be the last man to deny the relation between the ideal and the real. To me nothing is real but the ideal. But. for this very reason, I know of no ideal except the real. We have bowed to the Baal of Society long enough the church has always kept this phantom before the eyes of the individual. The latter was of no particular consequence, if only the “body” of Christ could be preserved. But for the life of me I cannot see of what consequence is the body, it its particular members are of no, or of little, importance! And the “Body of Christ,” of course, then meant the Catholic Church, which in its turn meant Pope Pius IX. or Leo XIII. or Ignatius Loyola. No! methinks we have worked enough for the “glory of God” and the “glorification of the Saints” and the “building up of the church of Christ” and also enough for the preservation of the inalienable (?) “rights” of Society! Let us try a while to work for the glory of man, and man not in the mere abstract, but man as embodied in human forms, in individuals, in John and James and Smith and Brown and Sarah and Rebecca and poor Bridget. Let us leave the mere abstract “to the Grammarians,” as one of the Church Fathers used to call them, and deal for a while in the strictly concrete. We certainly could not lose ranch by such an experiment, and we can gain much. The other way proved an utter failure, for, notwithstanding Mr. Potter assures that “man knows through his reason and conscience that there is a higher realm of life than that which is indicated in the natural impulse to seek individual property, pleasure, and power,” we know that, whatever be the knowledge of man (in the abstract) on this point, men in real life do not seem to know or to care about it. Selfishness is the order of the day; avarice, and its offspring monopoly, reign supreme, in spite of all theology and the “Love of God” and even “hellfire and brimstone,” etc. Out of mere love to God and man, the grand Inquisition held its “reign of terror” for centuries. Out of the same love the crusaders raged like wild beasts for hundreds of years. Out of the same love, I expect, men trailed in men, in this great laud of liberty and equality. For the glory of God and the strict doctrine of self-abnegation of Edwards and Hopkins, the Quakers were put in dungeons and the “witches” at the stake. Out of pure “Imitation of Christ” they changed the water of the Seine (if not into wine) into blood on St. Bartholomew. And “the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man” have not hindered the Unitarian Church from being “divided against itself” into Eastern and Western Unitarianism! There I say let us change our tactics. Let us appeal to man’s very selfishness, and he will be more liable to follow us. But then, we know that Individualism is by no means tantamount to selfishness and egotism, although to the coarse, unthinking mind it might become that. But what of it? Even then each, being “for himself,” would soon find out that it were for his own interest to let other individuals alone, “to do by them as he would be done by.” Government based on pure Individualism would accomplish its pure function. The individual would be protected against every other individual by every other individual, whereas now the Government “of the people, for the people, by the people” is a mere farce; for the simple reason that it is supposed to protect some imaginary State or society, and, finding its services never called for in that direction, since the imaginary State or society never goes to court, and, possessing nothing, can be robbed of nothing, it becomes degenerated into a party ring, protecting corporations and monopolies. In a “state” formed on Individualism, such things could never happen. There “an injury to one would indeed be an injury to all.”
Again pure Individualism would by no means prevent some high-minded, large-hearted persons from acting generously, from relinquishing their rights to others, or, in Biblical parlance, from “denying themselves.” There would be a great deal less pessimism in the world. Meanness would at first be abstained from out of pure selfish motives, but by and by people would habitually come to shun it. And purity of heart, magnanimity, and generosity would become the rule among men, and not, as they are now, the exception.
New York, February, 1887.
The Political Theology of Mazzini
By Michael Bakouine,
Member of the International Association of Working-People.
Translated from the French by Sarah E. Holmes.
Continued from No. 99.
But consider the question from a still broader point of view. Consider all Europe, including Russia, as a grand Federative Republic founded broadly on the principles of liberty, equality, justice, and solidarity. This would doubtless be an immense triumph for humanity. If to the population of Europe should be added that of the greater part of America and Oceanica, this would form a humanitarian Federation of from three hundred and forty to three hundred and fifty millions of souls. This would be really immense. But would humanity be definitively established on its foundations? No, for outside of this Federation there would still remain an even more immense population of eight hundred and fifty millions of Asiatics, whose civilization, or rather, whose traditional barbarism and slavery, would remain suspended like a horrible menace over all this magnificent organization of the free and humane world.
Here I permit myself to put a question which may at first appear singular, but which will none the less serve, by a sort of elimination, to determine in a still more precise manner this grand principle of human solidarity. If, instead of these eight hundred or eight hundred and fifty millions of barbarous men, there were in Asia as many wild beasts,— lions or tigers,— would the danger be the same for the liberty, for the very existence of society in Europe? It is undeniable that, if they found themselves there in such great numbers, they would be forced, by the impossibility of subsisting there all at the same time, to spread out—braving the inclemencies of the climate—over Europe. This would be, no doubt, a terrible invasion, but, nevertheless, not as terrible as that with which the Asiatic populations threaten us. Why? Are lions and tigers less ferocious than men? Alas! After what we have seen done by the Germans in France and by the French of Versailles against the French of Paris, we might almost be tempted to answer this question in the affirmative. Yes, men, when they are led by a Thiers or a Bismarck, when they are inspired by the clergy, by the nobility, by the bourgeoisie furious at finding themselves menaced in their economic privileges, by religious fanaticism, by military discipline, by State patriotism, when they can give full scope to their impure and ferocious desires, under the pretext of serving their country, artificial morality, and public order, may become and often show themselves more merciless and more destructive than the most ferocious beasts. But this is not the principal cause; a little ferocity, more or less, does not constitute a difference so great, and the ferocity of carnivorous beasts would amply suffice to destroy and devour all.
The principal cause resides in the superior intelligence and in the progressive sociability of man,— the first, as we have already said, being able to develop only in society, but, viewed in another light, constituting also, at the same time that it is itself incessantly stimulated by the growing needs of life, the active principle of all social progress. That is the secret of the power of man, and the elements of this power are found in every human society, whatever the degree of its civilization or barbarism. Men add to their numerical superiority the power of their progressively intelligent organization. When they attack or when they defend themselves, they do not always follow one system, like the other species of animals, whose very nature seems to have dictated, once for all, their invariable tactics; no, they can act in concert with each other and contrive new plans, collectively devising methods more in conformity with new circumstances. In a word, they are always still farther perfecting the organization of their collective forces; slaves themselves, they create those horrible machines of war, destruction, and enslavement called States.
The first historic States, as we know, were born in Asia. Asia was the cradle of all religions, of all despotisms; and today it is still Asia which menaces the liberty and humanity of the civilized world.
If Asia were peopled with wild beasts only, if Europe were menaced only with the invasion of some hundreds of millions of lions or tigers, such a danger would doubtless be very serious, but in no way to be compared to that with which she is really threatened today by the existence in Asia of these eight hundred to eight hundred and fifty millions of ferocious men, capable of constituting States, forming already immense despotic States, and sure to overflow, sooner or later, into Europe. If this overflow were only of wild beasts, even if their number were twice as great, European humanity, doubtless with great effort, might succeed in destroying it. But eight hundred millions of men cannot be exterminated.
Can they be enslaved? England and Russia are attempting it today. The first has established an immense empire in the Indies; the second, while drawing each day nearer the English positions in the South, is trying to establish one between the Caspian Sea and Persia on one side, and the Western frontier of the Chinese Empire on the other, waiting till it can encroach upon Persia and China, both of which it already surrounds on three different sides,— that is, on the east, west, and north; inasmuch as it is exerting itself today to take possession also of Mongolia and Manchuria, on the south of the Amur river, and has already taken possession of the whole eastern part of China along the Gulf of Tartary from the mouth of that river to Korea, at the same time that it is throwing its grappling-irons on the Northern islands of Japan. In this manner, England on one side and Russia on the other seem bound to enclose, if not to stifle, the whole Asiatic East in their arms for the greatest triumph of civilization.
Will they succeed? We can say with certainty that they will not. They will not succeed for the simple reason that, being ambitious rivals, they make incessant war upon each other in Asia, a war to the death, the one seeking to baffle the projects and to paralyze the efforts of the other, conspiring, arming, and stirring up the Asiatic populations one against the other; so that without intending it, they accustom these populations to our military tactics and to the use of European arms; and as these populations are not counted by tens, but by hundreds of millions, the most probable result of all these intrigues and of this struggle between the two powers which are disputing the dominion of Asia will be to shake up this Asiatic world which has hitherto lain motionless, and to pour it through the valley of the Amur, through Siberia, through the country of the Kirghizes, through Persia, and through Turkey, a second time, over Europe.
I am convinced, for example, that all the ephemeral triumphs which the Russian government is obtaining today in Japan will end, in the not distant future, in the entire destruction of Russian dominion over the entire valley of the Amur, under the irresistible force of a formidable Japanese invasion which the Russian government will find itself in no condition to oppose. The valley of the Amur is a magnificent country, enjoying a temperate climate and as fertile as Japan itself. Its area is almost as large as that of Italy and five-sevenths of that of Japan. And it has in all only forty thousand inhabitants, and what is worse, Russia can never people it, for between it and European Russia stretches immense Siberia over a distance of nearly four thousand miles,— a country twenty-six and a half times as large as France and which has itself only a little over four million inhabitants, including the forty thousand in the valley of the Amur. If we except the country of the Kirghizes, all the southern part of Siberia along the northern frontier of China is an excessively fertile country, in spite of the severity of the winter, which lasts from six to seven months, but which does not at all frighten the Russian peasants; so that an emigration of these peasants from European Russia would find as much and more land than they would need, long before reaching the banks of the Amur. It must be centuries, therefore, before the valley of the Amur can be peopled by Russians.
Japan, which is separated from this country only by the Gulf of Tartary, is a country of thirty millions of inhabitants. The Japanese are not like the Chinese; they are not an old people. On the contrary, they are a people very new, very barbarous, full of vigor and energy, and endowed with much natural intelligence. They are a people who observe, who learn well and very quickly. At present they only imitate, like all peoples just becoming civilized. But they have pushed this talent of imitation so far that in a short time they have learned the art of constructing steamboats, of manufacturing guns, and of casting cannon. Today young Japanese go to study in the Universities and in the Polytechnic Institutes of Europe. All the journals have been talking of one of those feudal princes who still share the power with the Tycoon and the Mikado, and who, with the aid of a Prussian sergeant, has organized in Japan one or two battalions of troops disciplined and armed like the Europeans. It was in this way that Peter the Great began. They have already commenced to build a navy, and all this goes on and is developed with an unheard-of rapidity. Look out for the Russian possessions on the Amur; I do not give them fifty years. The whole power of Russia in Siberia is only fictitious. Imagine an invasion of some tens of millions of Chinese of all sorts, pushed by hunger,— what resistance could be offered them by those poor Siberian towns, the largest of which, Irkoutsk, numbers only thirty thousand souls, and which are separated one from another by hundreds, what do I say? by thousands of miles. The Chinese are a people intellectually more debased and physically more decrepit than the Japanese; but necessity imparts energy to the feeblest; the atrocious, pitiless civil wars which are today rending the interior of this immense Empire, apparently, but only apparently, immovable, will end by newly tempering the energies and characters of its people. The Europeans, by going to Pekin, have put an end to the old Empire; a new order of things must undoubtedly arise from its ruins, a formidable new movement,— for a movement of five hundred millions of men can be nothing else than formidable,— and then, Europe, beware!
But even though there were not this war of two rival powers in Asia; even supposing all Europe reunited and agreed upon a common action,— could Europe conquer Asia and maintain dominion there? From two hundred and sixty-five to two hundred and seventy millions of Europeans, united to seventy-five millions of Americans,— could these keep in subjection eight hundred millions of barbarous Asiatics? Even admitting the possibility of this fact, it is clear that they could do it only to the injury of their own liberty. For to maintain so many millions of men in slavery, they must maintain formidable standing armies, armies which in a very short time would adopt the manners, ideas, and customs of the barbarous and enslaved populations of Asia and even surpass them in savage barbarity. They would split up among themselves; they would dispute over the booty; each fortunate general would pose as a sovereign; and there, would be no result from this change in Asia except that, at the head of these brutal masses, there would be found well organized and well disciplined troops, with generals who had become dictators and sovereigns and who would lead them and the Asiatic hordes to pillage Europe.
To be continued.
By Georges Sauton.
Translated from the French for Liberty by Sarah E. Holmes.
Continued from No. 99.
“We are lost!” murmured the Bunclodyans and their comrades, with contracted foreheads and dilated eyes, which reflected discouraging visions of defeat, flight, and massacre.
And Treor, and Harvey, and Paddy, and John Autrun, at first all absorbed by the view of the partial combats which were going on at the right and at the left, now heard the increasing lamentation; and the commanders of all the posts stationed upon the declivity noted a similar demoralization invading the mass, disintegrating its energies, and enervating its members in a torpor something like sleep.
They attributed it at first to the cold which benumbed them, congealed the blood in their veins, and left the brain deprived of its vivifying nourishment; but this did not account for the dreams and nightmares which some of the men were beginning to manifest.
Then Treor, stupefied and distressed, suddenly bethought himself of the cause of these metamorphoses, striking himself with his fists for not having foreseen it.
“The hasheesh!” said he, “it is the hasheesh!”
And, detaching the pipe from the drooping lips of one of the smokers, he took several whiffs, and the singular, sharp, nauseating, characteristic flavor confirmed his conjecture and his despair, so disastrous were the enervating, dissolving, diluting effects of this narcotic, this philter.
Quickly, quickly, in fury and dismay, he pulled all the fatal pipes from the mouths which were enjoying them, from the set teeth which held them, from the hands which obstinately struggled for them, and all those who were not poisoned by the pernicious drug joined him, at his command, at his-prayer, at his supplications, in saving their comrades from the action of this poison, distilled by Tom Lichfield, the devil in the service of Newington!
Yes, they all remembered this wretch, who had suddenly appeared in the village on the same night that Sir Harvey did, and had informed against him to the Ancient Britons, causing the ruin of Edith’s house and the death of Arklow. Though they had refused to trade with him, he had succeeded, by flattering their taste and pampering their inclinations, in inducing many to accept packages of tobacco, that tobacco which they lacked and longed for, by the aid of which they so often deceived hunger in days of distress, and thanks to which their gloomy dwellings became illuminated with a ray of joy.
In the blue spirals of its smoke they could see the spreading wings of the laughing chimeras which they strode, and, in the sadness of the hours just past, many, related Treor, had yielded to its obsessing influence: they saw now the results of this indulgence.
Several already, under the influence of the pernicious intoxication, discharged their guns in the air, having no further need of them, they pretended, now that Ireland, triumphant, proclaimed free, and in the midst of 140 festivities, invited all her children to rejoice in the abundance which they would lack no more. Neither slavery, nor warfare, nor work hereafter; gentle, peaceful, golden life, spent amid enchantments, in cultivating blooming gardens laden with perfume, and in abandonment to the charmer, love.
Others, with grinding jaws and convulsed faces, rushed upon imaginary aggressors, leaped into space, mutilated themselves on the ragged rocks, or attacked their neighbors, whom they called English rascals, struck with their weapons, and wounded; some were even killed.
And just at that time, amid this disorder, this confusion, this madness, this delirium, these desertions of friends, these scuffles between themselves which could not be suppressed, Marian, trembling, pointed out an army, near at hand and advancing along the road, perhaps a mile away, which she called the advance guard,— the Ancient Britons, Gowan’s Mob; in the rear extended an enormous mass, something like ten thousand men.
The army was emerging from the woods through which the Irish had passed some time before, and the various lines which formed it, divided in order to penetrate the narrow ways, consolidated on reaching the open, and their column stretched along the road indefinitely.
The whole camp which had been established in front of Bunclody was certainly on the march, reinforced by new recruits, doubtless regiments despatched from Dublin and England, and Sir Harvey could not comprehend how they pressed him so closely; but he soon saw to what resource the enemy owed this rapidity; the foot-soldiers leaped on behind the horsemen, and the massive horses, strong as towers, transported their double burden without difficulty, trotting as if at liberty.
Newington galloped on before, exciting the troops to hurry, reprimanding them, the Irish thought, in order to hasten their pace, whereupon the spurred horses broke into a gallop.
Though his arm was in a sling, the Duke moved it just the same to point out the heights, and Hunter Gowan, running at their sides, started suddenly at full speed, leading his band, whose frantic hurrahs shook the air and were carried to the Bunclodyans in the roar of the constantly rising wind, which carried stones and trees with it on its way and whirled them about in its gusts.
The Infernal Mob reconnoitred the road and searched the clusters of trees on either hand; but its objective point evidently was the plateau, and it stopped in its course only at the foot of the declivity, seeking a way, however steep, by which to gain the heights.
Some of the Bunclodyans’ bullets whistled about Gowan’s ears, but he took off his hat and saluted them ironically; Harvey, however, forbade their firing: what good to throw away powder on these inoffensive horsemen, when presently they would have none too many cartridges to use effectively upon the footsoldiers whose serious attack they must soon withstand.
To be continued.
The Science of Society.
By Stephen Pearl Andrews.
Cost the Limit of Price:
A Scientific Measure of Honesty in Trade As One of the Fundamental Principles in the Solution of the Social Problem.
Continued from No. 99.
75. [The settlers at Trialville, however, would not wish any thing said upon this subject to be construed into any pledge on their part to supply any advantages to individuals coming among them. There is no community or society there in the corporate sense of the term. Every individual judges for himself upon what terms he will treat with others, how far he will receive their Labor Notes, or whether he will receive them at all. Persons going there must make up their own opinion whether there is a sufficient demand for the kinds of labor which they can perform, whether their own uprightness of character and punctuality in the discharge of obligations are such as to inspire and maintain confidence, and, indeed, upon every point relating to the subject. No guarantees whatever are given, except such as the Individual finds n the principles themselves, while it is left entirely to the decision of the Individual himself, on every occasion, whether even he will act on the principles or not. There is no compact or constitution,— no laws, by-law, rules, or regulations of any sort. The Individual is kept above all institutions, our of deference to the principle of Individuality and the Sovereignty of the Individual, which belong just as much to the fundamental basis of true society as the Cost Principle itself. There must, therefore, be no reliance on express or implied pledges, nor upon any species of cooperation which is contracted for, and binding by agreement. Besides, the extent to which the advantages of the Labor Note can be rendered available is limited in the beginning by the smallness of the circle, by the prevalence of pursuits unfavorable to the mutual exchange of labor or products, and by numerous other considerations, all of which must be judged of by the Individual upon his own responsibility, and at his own risk.]
76. When credit is raised upon the issue of Labor Notes, it has the advantage of being based upon that which the party has it in his power to give. He has in his own vaults the means of redemption. If a laboring man promises money, his ability to pay the money depends upon the precarious change of his finding a demand for his labor. If he gives a Labor Note, finding a demand for his labor, he secures the means of paying by the act of entering into the obligation. Even if the payment is demanded in the alternative, and is discharged in the standard commodity itself (corn), or, what is more likely, in other commodities, measured by corn, or in the Labor Notes of the others, still all of these are procured by the exchange of his own labor, and it will appear, upon a full exposition of the system, that under the operation of these principles labor will always be in demand, so that no laborer need ever be out of employment. (161.) As a result of this fact every man can know positively, beforehand, to precisely what extent he can, with safety, issue his Labor Notes, the contingencies of sickness and death alone excepted. Hence dishonesty finds no subterfuges. In the case of death the heirs possess the property, if there be property, for which the notes were given. To refuse to redeem them is a palpable ascertained fraud, and the same powerful motives which have been shown as operating on the original debt to insure honesty and punctuality operate also upon them. If they evade the obligation, they, too, are placed in Coventry, and cut off from all the advantages and privileges which such an association affords. The influence thus brought to bear upon them is ten-fold more potent than laws, and the sanctions of laws, in existing society. In the event of sickness, if the invalid has accumulated property, it serves to maintain him, and redeem his outstanding obligations, precisely as now. Such is the main purpose of accumulation. If a person has no property at the time his Labor Notes are given, then his credit is based solely on his future labor, and the liability to sickness and death enters into the transaction and limits the issue. The risk is incurred by the party who receives them. As the amount of these notes in the hands of any single individual is generally small, the risk is a mere trifle, and has never been found, practically, to be enough to make it worth while to take it into account at all. For the contingency of the loss of property by fire or other accidents, between the time when obligations are incurred and their redemption as well as at all other times, insurance can be resorted to, as is done in existing society. Thus the Labor Note, while it is a circulating medium, is at the same time the instrument of a system of credit, having all the advantages, with none of the frightful results of insecurity and bankruptcy, which grow out of, or accompany, the credit system actually prevailing in the commercial world.
77. IV. — The Labor Note represents an ascertained and definite amount of labor or property, which ordinary money does not. We have examples of this feature of currency in the railroad and opera ticket, and other similar representations of a positive thing. A railroad ticket represents a ride of a definite length today, tomorrow, and next day, but a dollar does not represent any thing definite. It will buy one amount of sugar or flour today, another amount tomorrow, and still a different amount the next day. The importance of this feature of the two different systems is immense. It can, however, only be exhibited in its consequence by an extended treatise on the subject. What is shown in this chapter is a mere glimpse at the system of “Equitable Commerce” in operation. A thousand objections will occur which it is impossible to remove at the time of stating the general outline. It will be perceived by the acute intellect that a principle is here broached which is absolutely revolutionary of all existing commerce. Perhaps a few minds may follow it out at once into its consequences far enough to perceive that it promises the most magnificent results in the equal distribution of wealth proportioned to industry, the abolition of pauperism, general security of condition instead of continual bankruptcy, poverty, universal cooperation, the general prevalence of commercial honor and honesty, and in ten thousand harmonizing and beneficent effects, morally and religiously. The larger class of persons, however, will require that each particular detail shall be tract out and defined, and the mass of mankind will only understand the subject upon the basis of practical illustration. Hence the necessity that the practice go along with the theory, a method which has been generally adopted and pursued, and of the results of which the public will be from time to time sufficiently advised.
It would be inappropriate at this early point, and before a better understanding of the results which flow from the fountain of Equity has been obtained, to trace the operation of the Labor Note more into detail. In a subsequent chapter it will be considered in the light of a universal or world-wide system of currency. (245.)
Cost, Price, Labor, Natural Wage
78. The position was established in the preceding chapter that Equity in any exchange of labor or commodities — the products of labor — consists of the exact equality of burdens assumed by the parties to the transaction The amount of burden involved in rendering a given amount of labor, or a given commodity, is technically denominated the “Cost” of that labor or commodity, and the labor or commodity which is received in return for that which is rendered is denominated the “Price” of it. Hence, inasmuch as it is simple Equity that these two should be the equivalents of each other, or exactly equal in the amount of burden imposed, the scientific formula is that “Cost Is the Limit (or Scientific Measure) of Price.”
79. Cost is, then, the amount of repugnance overcome. Hence, according to this principle, the equitable price of any repugnance or endurance which it has cost to perform the labor or produce the commodity. This, again, is the same thing as labor for labor, burden for burden, or equality of burdens in exchange. Hence it implies that there is no other basis of price, no other ground for a demand for remuneration costing human endurance, than the fact of human endurance itself.
80. This proposition,— Cost the Limit of Price,— so simple, so seemingly unimportant to the casual reader, and yet so obviously true when properly apprehended, so perfectly consonant with the natural sentiment of right in every mind, will appear by its results as previously stated to be one of the most radical propositions ever made. A rigid adhesion to it in commercial relations will revolutionize nearly every species of transaction among men. It will do so beneficently, however, for all classes, so that no alarm need be felt by any. We shall begin, in this chapter, to trace out some of these results, through the various operations of the principle upon the interests of society, and to contrast them with the effects of those principles which are now efficient in the same sphere.
81. The first grand consequence resulting from the simple principle of Equity — Cost the Limit of Price — is, as already intimated, that whatever we possess which has cost No human labor, which has imposed No Burden in its production, which has Cost nothing, although it is susceptible of being property, is, nevertheless, not a rightful subject of Price. All property of this kind,— whether it is equally open to the enjoyment of all mankind,— the property of the race, like air and water,— or whether it attaches more particularly to some Individual, like genius or skill, is denominated Natural Wealth. The formula relating to this subject is, then, that Natural Wealth Bears No Price — that is, that it cannot, of itself, be made the subject of price upon any equitable grounds whatsoever,— although the resignation of so much of it as required for one’s own convenience may be the basis of price on the ground of a sacrifice endured, as will be explained in speaking of the comprehensiveness of the term Cost. (114.) Every thing valuable which is bestowed by nature without any provision on the part of mankind or the Individual is Natural Wealth, such as fire and water, light and heat, the earth, the air, the principles of science and mechanism, personal beauty, health, natural genius, talent, etc.
82. The principle stated in the preceding Number settles, scientifically and beautifully, the vexed question of the ownership of the soil. Land, in its natural state, is natural wealth, equally belonging to all the inhabitants of the earth. It stands upon the same footing as the ocean and the atmosphere. But so soon as labor is bestowed upon any portion of it, which adds to it a positive value, the labor so bestowed is the rightful subject of price, to be measured like every other species of labor, by the cost or burden assumed in performing it. Thus the equitable price for lands upon which no labor has been performed is zero; the equitable price for wild lands which have merely been surveyed and bounded is the cost of surveying and bounding them; if they have been cleared and fenced, then the equitable price is the cost of clearing and fencing in addition to that of surveying and bounding; and if, still further, they have been sloughed, cultivated, and improved, then the equitable price is the cost of as much labor as, rightly applied, would take the same lands in the natural state and bring them into the state of improvement in which they are found The reason of this latter modification is this,— that lands may have been in cultivation for hundreds of years, and labor have been bestowed upon them each year, while the cost of such labor has been annually repaid by the successive crops, except so much of the same as remains on the land in the form of permanent artificial improvement. The cost which has been already repaid ought not to be paid again while that which remains invested, and is to be repaid out of the future crops, or other use, may he equitably demanded from the purchaser who is to receive such future benefit. If the lands have been so badly cultivated as to have deteriorated instead of improved, it would be equitable that the seller should pay to the purchaser a sum equal to the cost of bringing them up to their natural state. Such cultivation is robbing the land, and incurring a debt to humanity, as if one were to find some means of tainting or exhausting the atmosphere, or fouling a stream from which others must draw their supplies.
To be continued.
“In abolishing rent and interest, the last vestiges of old-time slavery, the Revolution abolishes at one stroke the sword of the executioner, the seal of the magistrate, the club of the policeman, the gunge of the exciseman, the erasing-knife of the department clerk, all those insignia of Politics, which young Liberty grinds beneath her heel.” — Proudhon.
The appearance in the editorial column of articles over other signatures than the editor’s initial indicates that the editor approves their central purpose and general tenor, though he does not hold himself responsible for every phrase or word. But the appearance in other parts of the paper of articles by the same or other writers by no means indicates that he disapproves them in any respect, such disposition of them being governed largely by motives of convenience.
Our Nestor Taken from Us.
On almost any day except Sunday, for as many years back as the present writer can remember, a visitor at the Boston Athemoum Library between the hours of nine and three might have noticed, as nearly all did notice, in one of the alcoves overlooking Tremont Street across the Old Granary burying-ground, the stooping figure of an aged man, bending over a desk piled high with dusty volumes of history, jurisprudence, political science, and constitutional law, and busily absorbed in studying and writing. Had the old man chanced to raise his head for a moment, the visitor would have seen, framed in long and snowy hair and beard, one of the finest, kindliest, sweetest, strongest, grandest faces that ever gladdened the eyes of man. But, however impressed by the sight, few realized that they had been privileged with a view of one whose towering strength of intellect, whose sincerity and singleness of purpose, and whose frank and loving heart would endear him to generations to come; still fewer suspected that each sentence flowing gently from the quill in those slowly stiffening fingers was powerfully coutributary to the resistless sweep of a flood of logic and of scornful wrath destined to engulf the ill-founded structure of a false society. Such, nevertheless, was the truth. But he will add no more to its might. For the past month his familiar form has been missing from its accustomed place, and the habitues of the Library will never see him there again. For he is dead. His name was Lysander Spooner, a name henceforth memorable among men.
He died at one o’clock in the afternoon of Saturday, May 14, in his little room at 109 Myrtle Street, surrounded by trunks and chests bursting with the books, manuscripts, and pamphlets which he had gathered about him in his active pamphleteer’s warfare over half a century long. For a year or more he had been visibly declining physically and had been unable to move about without the aid of a crutch, and on the second day of the present month he sank into a bilious fever from which he never recovered. Almost bitterly hostile to all schools of medicine and confident in his knowledge of his own constitution, he refused to suffer a doctor’s presence until three days before his death, and even then, with a firmness always characteristic of his life, he declined to describe his symptoms or to accept either advice or medicine. Nor would he pay heed to the solicitations of those who, assured that his recovery was hopeless, besought him to make some disposition of his precious manuscripts. “Oh! I shall get up to attend to that,” he would answer in his weak but ever cheerful voice. He gradually lapsed into an unconscious state, which lasted some twenty-four hours, and then he died without a struggle.
Some time or other the story of this glorious life of eighty years will be told in detail as it deserves. Hero neither time, space, nor material permit me more than a hasty glance at certain phases of it.
It began on a farm in Athol, Massachusetts, on January 19, 1808, and on this farm, belonging to his father, young Spooner spent his boyhood and a few years of his manhood. At the age of twenty-five, equipped with such learning as a country-school education then afforded, he went to Worcester, where he obtained a clerkship in the Registry of Deeds. His year’s experience in that office, coupled with his painstaking and methodical nature, made him a very reliable conveyancer and examiner of titles, in which capacity, however, he seldom had occasion to act in after life. On throwing up his clerkship, he began to read law in the office of John Davis, a celebrated member of the Worcester bar, and later studied in the office of Charles Allen, who is counted among the foremost of Massachusetts lawyers. Probably these men of talent little imagined what a giant intellect was developing under their eyes. Indeed, it is more than likely that their hopes were slight regarding the future of a young man to whom already the details and formalities and absurdities and quackeries of statute law seemed but so much cobweb which he must brush away in order to obtain a closer view of those fundamental veracities and realities which he called the principles of natural justice, whose mind had begun to soar from the realms of pettifoggery into those of high philosophy, and who, instead of perfecting himself in the art of bleeding a client, was devoting himself to writing his first, pamphlet, entitled, “A Deist’s Reply to the Alleged Supernatural Evidences of Christianity.” This pamphlet and another issued soon afterwards, “The Deist’s Immortality, and an Essay on Man’s Accountability for His Belief,” are the earliest and the crudest products of his mind, but they give evidence of decided mental independence and a striking bent for original thought. For this alone are they now valuable. The method of assailing superstition has been so revolutionized by the theory of evolution and the progress of science that the arguments used in these pamphlets, written before 1895, seem antiquated and some of them absurd. But their author never realized it. He died as he had lived, an old-fashioned deist believing in a future life, and utterly ignorant of the great mass of evidence and logic which has lately reduced the ideas of God and immortality to such phantoms that men of sense are nearly unanimous in refusing to waste their thoughts upon them. In the sphere of religion and theology his younger and more active disciples had little in common with him beyond sharing his bitter scorn of priestcraft and all religious institutions.
As indicative of his attitude towards priests and churches the following anecdote is pertinent as well as interesting. At the time when the Millerite craze was at its height, and the end of the world was expected momentarily, some of the believers abandoned all work and neglected their crops, in view of the approaching catastrophe. At Athol several of these were arrested on a charge of vagrancy, the complaint being made by the more orthodox sects. The prosecution secured lawyers from adjoining towns and prepared to crush the victims, who were non-resistants, would employ no counsel, and had to be carried bodily into court. Mr. Spooner was present, and at the critical moment pointed out a flaw in the indictments which set the prisoners free. The orthodox were highly indignant at this result, and one of the ministers said to Mr. Spooner:
“What do you get for your conduct in this matter?”
“The satisfaction,” answered Mr. Spooner, in a tone of sarcasm so subtle that probably the minister did not appreciate it, “of doing everything in my power to establish the Christian religion.”
But his spirit of rebellion against injustice did not show itself in connection with religious liberty alone. His first act as a lawyer was to defy and break the law. At that time Massachusetts statutes required three years’ extra study from men not college-bred as a condition of admission to the bar. In disregard of this provision Mr. Spooner opened a law-office in Worcester, and this bold step, enforced by an argument which he printed and circulated among the members of the legislature, secured the repeal of the obnoxious law forthwith. Thus he vindicated his right to practise. But his career as a lawyer never amounted to much. The propensities which showed themselves during his studies grew stronger and stronger, and, realizing that he was born for bigger work, he set the law aside. After six years’ residence in Ohio, during which, in cooperation with Noah H. Swayne, afterwards a justice of the United States Supreme Court, he made an unsuccessful attempt to restrain the State Board of Public Works from draining the Maumee River, a navigable stream, he returned to the East to make what turned out to be one of the most important moves of his life.
Among the evils from which the country then suffered, even to a greater extent than at present, was the government monopoly of the postal business and the consequent enormous rates of postage. In opposition to this outrageous violation of liberty Mr. Spooner took his first step in economic reform. He saw that the evil could be remedied by competition, and he tried to convince the people that the government had no right to monopolize the carriage of mail matter. But his arguments had no effect. So, remembering his success in defying the law when seeking admission to the bar, he determined to defy it again. Accordingly, in 1844, he started a private mail between Boston and New York, and soon extended it to Philadelphia and Baltimore, charging but five cents, a letter between any of these points,— a very much smaller sum than the government was then charging. The business was an immediate success and rapidly extending. But as the carrying of each letter constituted a separate offence, the government was able to shower prosecutions on him and crush him out in a few months by loading him with legal expenses. His aim was to get one case before the Supreme Court, but the officials were too shrewd to let him do that. Others, who had followed his example, were treated likewise. Nevertheless the matter had created such a stir, and Mr. Spooner had obtained so many acknowledgments from congressmen of the superiority of his system, that the following year public sentiment compelled a large reduction in the government rates of postage. That Mr. Spooner by his bold course conferred an immense benefit upon mankind no one can gainsay, and he certainly deserves the title of “father of cheap postage in America.” But this was not the victory that he aimed at; this was not the victory that still remains to be won. What Mr. Spooner struck at was the monopoly, and that stands to this day, more firmly rooted than ever, and fostering a multitude of evils which competition would remedy at once. The people have been dissuaded from demanding its abolition by the successive reductions that have been thrown to them as sops. When one of the daily papers proposed, therefore, a few days ago,— meaning well, no doubt,— that Mr. Spooner’s head be put upon the next new postage stamp, in effect it insulted Mr. Spooner. He maintained to the day of his death — and the most experienced expressmen agree with him — that there is profit in carrying letters all over the United States at one cent each, and that the government monopoly of the business alone prevents the people from enjoying such a boon. If anything, then, could make him turn in his grave, it would be the consciousness of the fact that his likeness was being used in a way to jointly glorify himself and the monopoly which he worked so hard to destroy.
Mr. Spooner owes his chief reputation as a publicist to a pamphlet which, despite its great ability, is not by any means his most important work. “The Unconstitutionality of Slavery” at once made him prominent in the abolition conflict, and for some years his fame was considerable. Garrison and his followers had been conducting their agitation on the theory that the Constitution was a pro-slavery document and should be trampled under foot. When Spooner came forward, therefore, with a wonderfully strong legal argument to show that slavery was unconstitutional, it naturally excited much attention. Those who were in favor of abolishing slavery by political methods — among them Gerrit Smith and Elizur Wright — strongly indorsed the doctrine, and the book became the text-book of the Liberty Party. Wendell Phillips did his best to answer it, but as a logician Phillips was to Spooner as a pygmy to a giant. The battle raged fiercely until events forced the anti-slavery struggle to turn upon another issue, and the palm of victory has never been awarded. It should be borne in mind that the question was one of interpretation simply; the authority of the Constitution as such was not under discussion; if it had been, Spooner’s opposition to it would have been far more radical than Garrison’s. Besides this pamphlet Mr. Spooner wrote two others in connection with the anti-slavery conflict,— “A Defence of Fugitive Slaves” and an “Address to the Free Constitutionalists.”
Mr. Spooner was a stanch advocate of the jury system as the best method of administering justice,— not the jury system of today, but that originally secured by Magna Charta. On this subject he wrote an exhaustive legal work entitled “Trial by Jury,” in which he maintained that no man should be punished for an offence unless by the unanimous verdict and sentence of twelve men chosen by lot from the whole body of citizens to judge not only the facts but the law, the justice of the law, and the extent of the penalty, and that the gradual encroachment of judges upon the rights of juries had rendered the latter practically worthless in the machinery of justice. Much that he advocated in this volume has already prevailed in Illinois and some other States. The book closes with a denial of the right of compulsory taxation.
Of all the pamphlets which he wrote that which received the largest circulation was one which appeared anonymously under the title “Revolution.” In it he treated the Irish land question in his most vigorous style, putting his thought in the form of a letter to the Earl of Dunraven. He submitted the manuscript to a prominent Irishman in Boston, who was so delighted with it that he consulted other Irishmen in New York, as a result of which an edition of one hundred thousand copies were printed. A copy was sent to each member of the English aristocracy, to each member of the House of Commons, and to every official of any note in the British dominions, and the balance of the edition was distributed in the democratic centres of England and Canada with the exception of a few that were sent it to Ireland. It was the intention of the Irishmen who did this to continue such propagandism, and Mr. Spooner engaged to write a series of pamphlets for the purpose, but something interfered to prevent the execution of the plan. I remember that I read the second of the series in manuscript, but I believe it was never printed.
Other of his works exist in the same unfinished state. Lacking the means to publish an entire treatise at once, he would frequently print the first chapter separately and label it “Part I.” Then, before getting time to write or money to print a second chapter, some new subject would absorb his attention and the old work would remain unfinished.
Many of his pamphlets were first printed in journals or magazines, sometimes serially. In the “Radical Review” first appeared the three following: “Our Financiers: Their Ignorance, Usurpations, and Frauds,” “The Law of Prices: A Demonstration of the Necessity for an Indefinite Increase of Money,” and “Gold and Silver as Standards of Value.” In the “New Age,” the weekly edited by J. M. L. Babcock a dozen years ago, appeared “What is a Dollar?” and an uncompleted serial, “Financial Impostors.” And in Liberty, as my readers well remember, appeared his latest and unquestionably greatest work, the “Letter to Grover Cleveland,” his “Letter to Thomas F. Bayard,” and his masterly argument against woman suffrage, reprinted from the “New Age.” I may also now reveal the fact that many of the ablest editorials in these columns were written by Lysander Spooner. He was the author of the editorials signed “O,” printed within the last year, and of the following in earlier numbers: “Distressing Problems” (No. 7); “Guiteau’s Malice” (No. 10); “Guiteau’s ‘Devilish Depravity’” and “Guiteau’s Wit” (No. 11); “Justice Gray” and “The Guiteau Experts” (No. 12); “Andover Theological Seminary” (No. 20); “War upon Superstitious Women” and “The Forms of Law” (No. 21), “Ben Butler’s Piety” (No. 11); “The Troubles of Law-Making in Massachusetts” (No. 10); “The Death of Chinese Gordon” (No. 59); “Elizur Wright,” (No. 70). At times he wrote parts of works which appeared under others’ names. For instance, the long argument against prohibition entitled “Vices not Crimes” embodied in Dio Lewis’s book on the temperance question was Mr. Spooner’s work, and so was a part of George W. Searle’s article on “Chief Justice Taney” in the “National Quarterly Review” for April, 1865. Relying on my memory for the titles of such of his pamphlets as have not yet been mentioned in this hasty sketch, doubtless I have failed to include numerous important ones in the following list: “Poverty: Its Illegal Causes and Legal Cure”; “Illegality of the Trial of J. W. Webster”; “Considerations for Bankers and Bondholders”; “A New System of Paper Currency”; “Universal Wealth”; “No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority”; “The Law of Intellectual Property” (the only positively silly work which ever came from Mr. Spooner’s pen); and “Natural Law.” In addition to these, he left trunks full of manuscripts on a great variety of subjects, which his friends intend to put into print as soon as they are able.
I should be carrying coals to Newcastle were I to restate Mr. Spooner’s teachings here. Whatever he may have called himself or refused to call himself. He was practically an Anarchist. His leanings are Anarchistic from the first, and, though he worked in earlier years in the direction of attacking certain phases of government, he saw later the necessity of levelling his most powerful guns against the governmental principle itself. To destroy tyranny, root and branch, was the great object of his life. He was in perfect agreement with the central teachings of this paper,— that there is nothing so important as liberty, and that now and here there is no liberty so much needed as the liberty to issue money. And how he defended these doctrines! There is not one among us who can write with such crushing force. His greatest strength lay in his power of keen and discriminating analysis. He was a master of deductive logic. His was what he was wont to call a legal mind, the only order of mind of which he had any appreciation. It was one of the peculiar weeknesses of this great man that, despite his intense gratification at finding any new believer in his theories, he had little mental sympathy with those who arrived at them by processes distinct from his. He entirely failed to recognize the substantial identity of Herbert Spencer’s political teachings with his own simply because Spencer reaches his conclusions by totally different methods. That philosopher’s broad inductions made no impression on him. “He’s no lawyer,” he would say. For lawyers of the better type his predilection was strong. Upon these he relied largely for the world’s regeneration. His remarkably sanguine temperament never failed him, and he was always sure that his next pamphlet would capture the lawyers and through them the world. It was amusing to listen to his comments upon men. He thought John Stuart Mill greatly overrated. “When I read Mill,” said he to me one day, “I am always reminded of Oliver Wendell Holmes’s words to the katydid: ‘Thou sayst an undisputed thing in such a solemn way.’” His contempt for Charles Sumner he could find no words to express, and to such a trimmer as Henry Wilson he refused his hand when he met him. Wendell Phillips was a man of noble heart who didn’t know how to think, and Jesus Christ was an ambitious upstart who wanted to be King of the Jews, and who, with that end in view, delivered the Sermon on the Mount as a political stump speech....
I am at the end of my space, and have not said half that I had in mind. It would be easy to fill this number of Liberty with gossip and reminiscence concerning this delightful character, with eulogy of his surpassing powers and virtues, with criticism of his limitations. But I must not do it, I need not do it. Does not his work speak for him as I cannot: It is ours, my readers, to continue that work as he began it. And we shall not have rendered him his full reward of praise unless it shall be said of us, when we in turn lay down our arms and lives, that we fought as good a fight as he and kept the faith as he did.
Let this poor tribute end, then, here. On Sunday next, May 29, at half past two o’clock, in Wells Memorial Hall, 987 Washington Street, Boston, worthier words will be spoken in honor of the dead philosopher at a special memorial service, in which Theodore D. Weld, Henry Appleton, J. M. L. Babcock, Thomas Drew, and E. B. McKenzie will take part, thus supplementing the funeral service of Tuesday, May 17,— the day of the burial at Forest Hills,— when addresses were delivered by Mr. Babcock, Parker Pillsbury, and M. J. Savage.
“Work and Wages” sneers at the paradise of cheapness of which Edward Atkinson and other economists boast, but which is achieved by the reduction of wages to a very low point, as a fools’ paradise. It is right. But its own paradise of dearness, to be achieved by the determination of individuals to pay more than the market value for products and thereby rob themselves, is equally a fools’ paradise, if not more so. For, while it is true, as “Work and Wages” claims, that cheapness is achieved at the cost of injury to health and mind and morals and therefore to productive power, it is also true, as the economists claim, that the payment of higher than market prices causes a loss of capital, stifles enterprise, and makes wages even lower than before. The wise men’s paradise is that in which the market value of products is equal to the wages paid to the labor (of all sorts) expended In their creation, and it can be achieved only by the total abolition of those checks upon the supply of capital which States have imposed and economists have justified for the purpose of keeping wages at a point low enough to sustain capitalists in luxury and yet not quite low enough to immediately “kill the goose that lays the golden egg.” in that paradise there will be no sentimental endeavor to pay high prices, but all will buy as cheaply as they can, the difference between that state and this being the vital one that then the unimpeded circulation of capital will enable labor to buy its wages for much less than it now pays for them. The tendency to cheapness of product being thus balanced by a tendency to dearness of labor, the displacement of monopoly and charity, those parents of pauperism, by competition and equity will give birth to an entirely new economic condition in which industry and comfort will be inseparable.
Henry George answers a correspondent who asks if under the system of taxing land values an enemy could not compel him to pay a higher tax on his land simply by making him an offer for the land in excess of the existing basis of taxation, by saying that no offers will change the basis of taxation unless they are made in good faith and for other than sentimental motives. It seems, then, that the tax assessors are to be inquisitors as well, armed with power to subject men to examination of their motives for desiring to effect any given transaction in land. What glorious days those will be for “boodlers”! What golden opportunities for fraud, favoritism, bribery, and corruption! And yet Mr. George will have it that he intends to reduce the power of government.
All the indignation that is rife over the decision of Worcester shoe manufacturers and Chicago master-builders to employ only such men as will sign an agreement practically excluding them from their unions is very ill spent. These employers have a perfect right to hire men on whatever conditions the men will accept. If the latter accept cruel conditions, it is only because they are obliged to do so. What thus obliges them? Law-sustained monopolies. Their relief lies, then, not in depriving employers of the right of contract, but in giving employees the same right of contract without crippling them in advance.
What is Anarchy?*
What is Anarchy? Admirers of the writings of that master poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, will probably remember the definition he gives in his celebrated poem, “The Masque of Anarchy”:
Last came Anarchy; he rode
On a white horse, splashed with blood.
He was pale even to the lips,
Like Death in the Apocalypse.
And he wore a kingly crown;
And in his grasp a sceptre shone;
And on his brow this mark I saw —
“I am God, and King, and Law!”
We shall presently see that Shelley’s words hold good today, except that the name has been transferred to the opposite party, and is not now used to define “God and Kind and Law,” but to define the principles of that party which Shelley so ably champions. But there is another definition of Anarchy; it is a similar picture to the foregoing, except that he is the symbol of lawlessness allied to disorder and violence. Who is not familiar with the terrible picture of Anarchy, the horrible spectre, mounted on his “horse of death,” riding furiously over every man, woman, and child that come in his way, and ruthlessly trampling them to death in his wild career, in the name of lawlessness? This is the popular conception of Anarchy. It is the Anarchy described by newspaper scribes and lexicographers,— the big black bogie of the politician,— the synonym for war, murder, tumult, and general social discord. Such is Anarchy as defined by its foes,— those foes who willfully misrepresent it to guard their own vested interest by so doing, and another class of foes, more numerous and influential, who take up the cry of the former, utterly unconscious of its true character and of the bearing which it has upon their own individual welfare. News constantly flashes through the wires, or is carried through the post, telling the public of some diabolical plot of the Russian Nihilists, or some terrible insurrection among the Anarchists and the Dynamiters of Europe. Nobody troubles to ascertain the nature of the channels through which the news has filtered; nor do they trouble to ascertain the source from, or the conditions under, which it emanated. They are quite satisfied in taking the prescription just as their typographical physicians have prepared it, and never trouble to ask themselves if they are imbibing mental poison, instead of legitimate news as they imagine. Even those who pride themselves upon their scepticism in matters of theology are frequently among the first to condemn the actions and principles of the great heroes of the antipodes, simply on the bare statements of a contaminated and deceptive press. It is not, however, their action so much as their principles which I intend to lay before you, although they are so intimately connected — their principles being principles of action — that it is impossible to speak of the one without occasionally alluding to the other. Neither do I propose to merely state the principles of the Anarchists, but to defend them also.
I have given the commonly-accepted definition of Anarchy,— that is, the definition as given by non-Anarchists: now let me give the definition of Anarchy as understood by the Anarchists themselves. Anarchy is Individualism consistently carried out and put into practice. It is the doctrine of autonomy, laissez faire, independence, and liberty. It is the doctrine which accepts all the social principles of that most advanced school of thinkers of which Herbert Spencer is at the head, and does not fear to carry them to their logical conclusions, even though the greatest expounders of those principles may fail to do so themselves. Anarchy, in short, is to politics what atheism is to theology. Atheism says: defy the priest, who robs you under the authority of a god; Anarchy says: defy the ruler who robs you under the authority of a State, as well. Atheism says: be free in your thoughts; Anarchy says: be free in your thoughts and actions too. Atheism says: face the gods like a man; Anarchy says: face all existence like a man. Atheism says: from the gods be free; Anarchy simply says: Be Free!
As Atheism means “without God,” so Anarchy means “without Government.” It rejects all authority, whether emanating from gods, goddesses, kings, queens, popes, priests, presidents, or parliaments. It refuses to be crushed out by the rule of majorities or minorities, by monarchies or republics, by aristocracies or democracies, and by law-makers and law-executioners of all kinds whatsoever. The only truth it recognizes is the law of equal freedom. The only right it recognizes it the right to live,— the right of self-preservation,— the right to live as best the intelligence dictates, exercising every function of one’s nature to one’s best ability, and taking upon one’s self the necessary responsibility of every action so performed. Its watchword is: “The equal liberty of each, limited by the equal liberty of all.” And all the tyrannies which have so cursed the world in the course of its painful development is wages war with to the death. No matter what sacred halo may enshrine a deed; no matter what air of sanctity may pervade an institution,— if it fails to recognize that principle of equal liberty of all, Anarchy set its brand upon it, Anarchy is at war with it. If a papacy claim a divine appointment to govern mankind, Anarchy repudiates it. Your authority is false, says Anarchy, and, if it were not, we should still oppose it, because it is a tyranny and an enemy of liberty. Should the monarch claim the same right, he would receive the same answer. Should the president, the prime minister, the governor, or the chief secretary say: “We have been appointed by a majority of the citizens to dictate methods of action to each individual,” Anarchy tells them they stand self-condemned,— for any act of a majority to coerce a minority is a direct infringement of the law of equal liberty, and as great a tyranny as the others. Should a legislative body, without a president, without a chief secretary, without a head of any kind, attempt to control the actions of the community, acting under the sanction of a majority who had elected them to office, Anarchy would still deny their right to infringe the liberty of the minority: aye, although that minority be a minority of but one individual; for Anarchy knows no mathematical line of demarkation between a just tyranny and an unjust tyranny, no mystic property in figures which decides the morality of an act. Anarchy does not say that, because one individual out of a thousand has no right to coerce the rest, therefore somewhere further down in the scale a number can be found which has that right. It used to be thought that, in a society of a thousand members, one out of the number had a right to rule the rest: that was a despotic monarchy. Then it was thought that he had the right to do so, if he had five hundred to back him up: that was a limited monarchy. Then it was thought that the five hundred had the right to do so, if they picked another out of the remainder in place of the one who originally rules: that was a republic, with a president at its head. Then it was thought that the five hundred and one had the right to rule the other four hundred and ninety-nine, so long as they, or their representatives, voted in a body (that is, by dispensing with the office of a president, and not being split into two sections as they were formerly); that is the modern ideal democracy.
This constant changing of the forms of government is all very amusing to those who have not to pay for it. But what about those who have to suffer all these experiments? Where is the minority all the time? Where are th four hundred and ninety-nine or any lower figure that it may be,— perhaps one? Where are they? Forgotten! Every individual composing the minority is “The Forgotten Man,” to use Sumner’s excellent expression. All this foolish game of political chess has been played, and what for? Why is the limited monarch moved to the square lately occupied by the despotic monarch, and he subsequently removed off the board by the president? Why has this costly and fruitless game been played? Why, simply that the pawns should be enabled to see sufficient of its surface as silent spectators, and should lose sight, in the excitement of the game, of the part they themselves were playing in it. The rulers, the politicians, the tricksters, said to the people: “Here, we will give you a lolly to suck in the form of a vote, and it will keep you quiet; you will vainly hope by that means to checkmate us, but it will not give you the power; and you will continue to help us in carrying on the game, under the impression that you stand as good a chance of winning it as we do; you are too foolish at present to know that political chess is a game of ‘heads I win, and tails you love.’” But Anarchy come along, and says to the stupid voters: “Wake up! open your eyes, and see what you are about; you are not feeling yourselves with your votes; you are killing yourselves; you have got a State tape-worm inside of you, and you are feeding that instead; take an emetic in the form of a healthy mental revolution; if it doesn’t act after a time, try a stronger does,— mix a little dynamite with it; that will help you to remove one of the worm, and you will have very little difficulty in passing the rest, for they will only too willingly fall in with your ideas when they find your medicine too strong for them.” And that is the method by which Anarchy proposes and has already commenced to cure humanity of the social diseases which have hindered its progress for so many untold generations. “We did not succeed, because we were mere talkers, incapable of real work”, said the Nihilists reproachfully of themselves; and the cry, “Let us act,” soon became a bye-word with them. And one needs not to be told that they put their resolutions into practice; even the falsifying press has told us that much.
But whence comes Anarchy? What are the circumstances which have brought it into existence? It is simply the revolt of intellectual man against the degrading principle of authority, which his ignorant and brutish ancestors have handled down to him. In the earlier stages of human existence, men, in order to avert the constant depredations of their kind, elected one of their number chief, or leader, of the general body, and, while acting under his leadership, acknowledged the supremacy of his dictates and voluntarily appealed to him to arbitrate between them in their little disputes one with another. This appears to have answered its purpose very well in the early stages of man’s career, but, as society become more complicated and knowledge became diffused among the members, this chieftainship began to assume the nature of a tyranny rather than a blessing. The greatest wisdom had hitherto bee the distinctive characteristic of the chief, but now it had become the general characteristic of the people as a whole, and in many instances the subject showed more wisdom than his ruler. In other words, the chieftainship of primitive ages had developed into that form of monarchy seen in modern times, where the king or queen, though blessed with all the luxuries and attractions which modern ingenuity can bring,— the costly trappings, the gaudy shows, the immense displays of wealth and mock charity,— is no longer received with that reverential and unquestioning devotion which characterized his or her less gaudy but more potent prototype. The lot of the modern monarch is one of extreme danger to himself, to say the least of it. The divine right which used to hedge a king has been swept away by the keen logic of modern scepticism, and the humblest laborer does not fear to proclaim himself a republican. He no longer admires the monarch’s wealth, because he has realized the fact that he has to pay for it. He no longer looks upon his ruler as a majestic hero, when he proclaim war with another nation; but he looks upon him as a robber and a mercenary self-seeker, who sends his subjects to be butchered like so many rats in order that he may still further drain the pockets of the poor fools who so liberally support him in his grand system of spoilation and stolen luxury. The modern monarch durst not leave his palace, lest some brave Nihilist or Dynamiter shall seek revenge for the thousands of missing and brothers whom he has consigned to exile or to death. The time has passed for monarchy, for the people have learned that with power they are tyrants, and without it they are useless expenses. An absolute monarch is the simplest and most perfect form of government possible, and consequently it is the worst possible system for the governed. And as the kings have had to disclaim any divine appointment and to practically admit that the only right they have to their position is the right of might, the people have said to them: “Be it so! if might is right, we shall put our respective strengths to the test and see on whose side the might lies.” When a community has settled matters with its king, instead of dispensing with the office, it hands it over to the parliament or government, and when it finds its new master as treacherous as the old one, it sets about trying to hold the “reins of government” itself. It is here that the voting swindle comes more fully into play, and the wily politician proposes “universal suffrage” as a panacea. The tyranny of one man had been shown by experience to be detrimental to human welfare, so it was proposed to make every man a tyrant as far as possible by letting every adult individual have a vote in the election of representative rulers. But this does not materially change matters, for one half of the community are still without representatives,— that is, the half who voted for unsuccessful candidates. And even the successful voters who did return their representatives are not much better off than the unsuccessful ones. They are really no more “represented” than the others. Could a greater mockery exist than that involved in the word “representative”? Can any man be represented by any one else? Are there any two men alike in the world? Of course not. Then how ridiculous to say that one politician represents a few hundred individuals, not one of whom he resembles, and who, furthermore, differ from each other! The majority have no more returned representatives than the minority have done. What they have returned are men with ideas and crotchets of their own, or men with no ideas at all, as is oftner the case,— men who in their hearts can say with the pious editor:
I do believe hard coin the stuff
For Electioneers to spout on;
The people’s ollers soft enough
To make hard money out on;
Dear Uncle Sam pervides fer his,
And gives a good-sized junk to all;
I don’t care how hard money is,
Ez long ez mine’s paid punctooal.
Some of the “representatives” are superior to that type, but even they are in most instances little better than the others. They are all tarred with the same brush; and the despicable tyranny of the common-place politician is carried on in an equally effective, though not so open a manner, by the wealthy idler who represents “respectability.” One and all are office-seekers, trying to get cheap honors and well-filled pockets by following up the contemptible trade of minding other people’s business, under the hollow pretense that they are their “representatives.” No wealthy legislator can represent the hard-working, poorly-fed mass of the population; neither can a “poor” man, returned on the “payment of members” system, represent them, for the individual is transformed in the operation. He is now a paid servant in an easy government billet, and no longer the hard-working and poorly-paid man that he was before his election; and he is no longer a representative of the class which returned him when his circumstances resembled their own. And the probability is that, if he went in a honest man (as occasionally happens), he will come out a rogue.
In the face of all this bamboozling, what is to be done? Dignity and your individualist to the few professional politicians, who are deserving of nothing from you beyond contempt for their mischievous meddlesomeness. Do not countenance this pernicious system, which ignores the rights of every minority and every individual who is leading the progress of society. When next you go to register your vote,— that sugar-coated pill,— remember what the politician says of it:
This hath my faithful shepherd been,
In pastures sweet hath led me;
And this will keep the people green,
To feed, as they have fed me.
And let the voter bear in mind that every time he gives his vote he is assisting to perpetuate a system which has been continually waging war with the best interests of mankind. No matter what class may be in the ascendancy, the results to the ruled are disastrous nevertheless. If an aristocracy of wealth be represented, it means the enactment of more arbitrary and cruel laws to wring more securely from the laborers the necessaries and luxuries of which they are the sole producers. If the “poor” are represented, it means the enactment of laws to supply the requirements of the thriftless, the stupid, and the good-for-nothing at the expense of the industrious, the careful, and the hard-working,— robbing the successful Peter to pay the unsuccessful Paul. No party, no individual, is clever enough to legislate for others with good results. It takes a clever man to run a large business; but it wants an omniscient one to run a government. Every class government is an unqualified tyranny, whether it be a conservative House of Lords, or a House of Commons which refuses to allow Charles Bradlaugh to do what it does itself, or a government like that of Liberal (U.S.A.) [a town], which refuses to allow its inhabitants to erect and attend churches and public-houses; it is still a tyranny of the once class in power, arbitrarily dictating to all the other classes what they shall do and what they shall not do, irrespective of what the others are anxious to do in the matter. All governments are tyrannies; and that is why revolutions have generally resulted in the substitution of one tyrant for another, and why the general elections always produce a similar result, and “parliamentary reform” always turns out to be a sham. Reform comes from without, and it is useless to expect a government to reform itself when its own self-interest warns it against taking such a fatal step. Reformers in the past, and many in the present, who ignore the face that “history repeats itself,” have continued to formulate schemes for the improvement of society, by means of the tyrannical institutions of which I have been speaking. All those people who are known under the generic name of State Socialists have aimed at modeling society on a totally different basis from that on which it rests at present, and hope to achieve their reforms by means of those demoralizing institutions founded on compulsion... All institutions which seek to force mankind to perform certain actions are based on the principle of slavery, and cannot fail to do harm to human welfare.
The natural function of government is to perpetuate slavery; for the more reverence three is in the people, the more they are law-abiding and cowardly, the more humility and loyalty they show, the easier it is for the few adventurers called “the State” to rule over them. No State can make much progress where the individual members of the community are brave, independent, and self-reliant. It is only the humble and the meek who submit to such a body. The idea of a State setting about to make people moral and prevent crime! Could absurdity go much further. Fancy a mixed body of novices and charlatans setting up as judges of crime, and passing acts to prevent it, without knowing what crime is, what produces it, or what will remove it. One of the most potent causes of crime is the want of self-reliance. And yet this is the very quality which all governments tend to destroy in the individual, directly they set about government him. Government have tried to suppress drunkenness and only succeeded in intensifying it, and turning honest people into sly grog-sellers. Governments try to make people moral by passing laws upon laws and torturing and imprisoning their victims. No one can fully define morality, and yet every ignorant government acts as though it actually knew more about it than other people. Heresy is immoral, says a government, and forthwith it persecutes a Columbus and a Galileo, burns a Bruno, and imprisons a Bennett or a Foote. A priestly government creates an inquisition, and a political government builds gallows and prisons, and makes laws to fill them. A government tries to keep the press pure, and inaugurates a vigilance which soon develops into a rigid censorship, which it requires a Nihilist to overthrow, or it enacts the most iniquitous laws, which it takes a Wilkes, a Bradlaugh, or a Symers to break. In the defense of the nation or the individual the State again fails to do as much good as evil. It makes legal expenses so extravagant that many a man has been ruined in trying to right a wrong by its assistance. It sets guard over us a body of policeman who in many instances are not better than itself, on the principle of “setting a thief to catch a thief.” Its courts of justice are but a mockery of the name, frequently as unjust as they are uncertain; for they are always dependent on bad laws, the interpretation of which is often dependent on the humor of a judge or the state of his stomach. So little are the judges to be relied on for meting out justice that nine people out of ten have more faith in an ordinary body of jurymen, picked haphazard from every Tom, Dick, and Harry who passes by. That individual is best protected by the law who manages to keep out of is meshes. Long ago Bacon said that every man should know sufficient of the law to make him keep out of it, and his axiom holds as good as ever, and will continue to do so as long as men are slaves, and until each is a law unto himself. As to the State’s protection of the nation, history has plentifully supplied the record of wars and international intrigues which it has developed in that direction; and the cost and inutility of standing armies has been pretty well estimated People are already beginning to learn that to be a soldier is to be a slave, and to pay taxes to support the army is to be a worse slave still. The British taxpayer is finding that, while was pays his rulers, it does not pay him. The State has defended (?) [sic] the English nation during the last two centuries by involving them in an expense of something like sixteen hundred million pounds, all of which has come out of the wealth — not the money — produced by the laboring classes.
The governments sometimes try “the ‘prentice hand’” on the management of the railways, the shipping, or the building operations of the country, and everywhere they leave a trail of devastation behind them. Even in the post-office, that cheaply-conducted, extensively-patronized institution, they conduct the business with less efficiency and at greater expense than private companies, whom they cannot compete with, and consequently have to drive out of the market by making their competition criminal, or carrying on their own system at a still greater loss, which has to be borne by the taypaying public. Bungling and dishonesty characterize nearly every government undertaking. They superintend the management of the public libraries, art galleries, and museums, and close them on the very day in which the great bulk of those who are taxes to support them can only find time to visit them. The celebrated Sunday question, the laws regarding oaths, and the whole question of Church and State, show what little justice is to be expected from governments, and how they always take tyrannies under their wings and work together for a common object. The States have made such moral cowards of the people that they actually tolerate laws against libel; and the stupid and vexatious laws to regulate the sale of poisons they bear almost without a murmur. Even laws against vice are allowed to pass unquestioned,— laws “to save the individual from himself,” to prevent him gambling and getting drunk, to make him insure his life, to prevent him from committing suicide when they have made his life unbearable.
Then the State becomes quack physician and decides that some shall practice the healing art and some shall not: a certain “diploma” shall be necessary to allow a man to practice as one of the “profession,” — one of the monopoly which has grown out of that great monopoly, “the State.” Nor content with going so far, they step between the parent and the offspring, and under threats of fine and imprisonment compel the unhappy parents to submit their children to that abominable and filthy practice,— vaccination,— it being to the interests of “the profession” to have it perpetuated. With the same kindly interest, the ignorant handful called “the State” next tells the parent what he shall do for his offspring in the way of education; how he shall be compelled to send his child to a State school to be formed by second-rate teachers into a common-place individual; and how, if he has no child, he shall pay taxes with which other people’s children shall be “educated.” And by the time it has so crammed the child with “education” that its little brain has been turned, it bundles it off to a lunatic asylum to drag out its miserable little life in the company of other lunatics consisting of madmen and madwomen, people slightly “touched” and others quite sane,— all in fact, except the very class whose presence there would be the most advantageous to society,— the legislators themselves. After a while, the little creature dies, and is buried in a State cemetery, there to rot and emit poisonous gases with which to destroy the health and shorten the lives of those whose turn has not yet come to return to their maker, the earth, The parents dare not subject the dead body to cremation instead, in order to ward off these evils because it is “unlawful” and “sinful,” as it is called respectively by the twin life-destroyers, the Church and the State, in their omniscient wisdom.
And what says Anarchy in all this roguery? It says: Mind your own business. Anarchy says a man shall choose what physician he likes, and take the risk of a bad choice without being dictated to by the ignorant “State.” It tells the parent to refrain from having his child vaccinated if he believes it to be injurious, or to have it vaccinated and take the consequences if he believes it to be beneficial. It tells the parent to educate his child in what he thinks necessary, and to choose the teachers and the place of education himself. And Anarchy tells the parent to dispose of the body of his dead child in whatever manner his judgment and good sense commend.
There is not corner free from the machinations of the State clique. They find their way into the factory and the store. But Anarchy with eagle eye is ever on their track, and well it need be, for “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” Anarchy says that manufacturers, like all other people, should be left to manage their own affairs in their own way; and that no mischievous Factory Acts nor Eight Hours Bills should undertake to manage it for them. Neither should a government exist to dictate who shall work and who shall not whether he be an Englishman or a Chinaman, of whether he belong to any other nationality. Anarchy says no government shall interfere in the commercial affairs of individuals and nations, but each shall be free to deal with whom he likes, and to exchange what commodities he chooses to. He shall divide his labor as he finds convenient, and shall have his industries conducted simultaneously over the whole world if he finds it in his interest to do so. In this department, as in all others, Anarchy is satisfied with nothing short of absolute Free Trade. Every laborer shall do what he likes with the products of his own labor; and no “State” shall rob him of a large portion of it, as they now do, by means of compulsory taxation. Unfettered natural selection shall then operate upon the distribution of products to the advantage of our food and food-supplies, as it now operates upon other necessities which the State has not yet got it “protective” grip upon. The enormous waste of wealth by the State, its outlays upon wars, monarchies, aristocracies, government, civil services, pensions, and the thousand and one other natural jobberies that government is heir to, shall thereby be cut off by having their supply stopped at the source. Capital shall then represent wealth and not currency, and the Issues of money shall be responsible for the repayment of it in the necessaries of life. Individuals shall be free to adopt what form of currency they desire and find most convenient, whether it be metallic money or paper money, private money or national money. There shall be no laws to imprison a man for issuing “unlawful” money, but each will be a liberty to adopt his own system, and the fittest system will survive. Plutocracy, shorn of its monopoly, shall no longer be the toiler’s master, but shall be reduced to the useful function of acting as his servant.
Poverty will probably exist as long as humanity does, but without a State to foster it with its robberies and its poor-laws it will be transferred from the shoulders of the taxpayer to that of the idler. And who shall bring about the change? The legislators, whose interests are directly opposed to the legislated, are not the ones to look to for liberty in this direction. Their interests are as wide apart as the poles asunder. Law-making is the natural function of the legislator, not law-repealing. It is only the outside influence — the Anarchical influence — which can do it.
There is a lot of ink being spilt right now over the “land question,” as it is called. Clever writers have been diligently occupied in showing the evils which arise from “landlordism,” as shown in the private ownership of the land, and as a remedy they suggest that all the land should be confiscated by “the State” and “it” should be our landlord. It is often remarked that faith will remove a mountain, but what a lot of faith it must have taken to erect such a mountain as this! What a pleasant prospect for humanity to have a handful of irresponsible politicians for their landlords, instead of a few thousand private ones as at present! The politicians have given us an experience of their land laws when the land was in private hands. These have been bad enough, as they all admit; but what would they be like if the legislators had the land in their own hands? Men think land is not free enough, so they seek to remedy it by placing it on the government shelf, where it will be entirely out of their reach, unless they possess the essential requirements of one who would make a successful bargain with a “State,” — a long purse and an elastic conscience. “Land nationalization” as it is vaguely termed, has no place in Anarchy.
Neither has Anarchy any sympathy for Malthusianism,— the doctrine of human over-population and concurrent starvation. Malthusianism teaches that there is not sufficient food in the world to feed all the laborers; but Anarchy says there is more than enough if they are wise enough to retain it for themselves. Malthusianism teach, and Plutocracy echoes, that there is not enough room in the world for all of us, and the toilers must cease from reproducing their species. Anarchy says there is room for all that work, and we can only spare to lose the drones from amongst us; if they desire to disappear off the face of the earth by practicing Malthusian doctrines, let them; it is nature’s way of ridding herself of the unfit. But let them not dare to dictate to others how large a progeny they shall bring forth.
Anarchy makes no distinction between the liberty of individuals on account of sex. It recognizes that woman is as deserving of individual choice as man, and that she is equally bound to respect the rights of others. It says she shall fill any station in life to which she considered she is fitted; but she is no more justified in legislating for her fellow-creatures, other otherwise intruding upon their liberty than a man is. Here, Anarchy is the advocate of woman’s rights, but not of the cruel mockery, woman’s suffrage.
Anarchy recognizes no “laws” to regulate sexual relationship. Here again individual choice, with its natural responsibility, is to be the guide of action. Instead of the religious mock currency, it lets the individual choose his or her own methods. Instead of uniting a couple for life, irrespective of the happiness or despair which is to follow, it leaves them to cohabit together as long as they consider advisable, whether it be for a day, a week, a year, or a life-time. And if a man desires two wives, and those two wives desire one man between them, it does not deny them the right of making their own choice. If any union proves a mistaken one, Anarchy says it shall be severed by mutual consent before further disaster follows, and no one else shall need to be polluted to procure that law-made evil,— a divorce. Each shall be free to follow his natural sexual instincts, and shall take upon himself the natural responsibility of his action, whatever it may be.
Such is the attitude of Anarchy towards existing institutions; how does it propose to conform society to its own principles? By evolution. Anarchy recognizes that society is a growth; that the terrible tyrannies which so oppress it are but the natural results of its blind gropings in its infancy; that in its dull infancy it evolved “The State”, but as knowledge grows upon it, it shall as surely evolve a system of liberty. A few years ago, England was startled to learn that the works of Darwin had been forbidden entrance into despotic Russia. For the Czar and this courtiers understood the deep import of the great naturalist’s generalizations far better than the careless, indifferent, and comfortable English squire did. The Czar knew that the popularization of evolutionary science meant the death blow to tyranny and authority. For evolution teaches that life is a struggle, and the fittest only can survive. What an inspiration for the despairing Nihilists! The fittest will survive! The who are the fittest, the slaves or the masters? The masters, of course, answers evolution. Let us be masters, the, said the Nihilists. How shall one be a master? By casting off the yoke of slavery! How shall one case off slavery? By fighting for it,— fighting physically and mentally! “Self-preservation is the first law of life,” and the individual who obeys that law the most faithfully is the fittest to survive. The Russians were being annihilated by brute force. What were they to do? Moral suasion, the favorite weapon of the Anarchist, could no longer hold its own united against bullets and dungeons. For the future force must repel force. Then arose that glorious Terrorism, which made the Russian despots quake with fear and the poor down-trodden toilers realize for the first time that they had might as well as right on their side, and that liberty was never got by asking for it, but by taking it. “Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow.” And the Nihilists are striking that blow, as the Czar knows to his discomfiture; and as certain other tyrants know, who feel the force of example making itself felt in every civilized land. Don’t pray for privileges, but demand your rights, said the Irishmen, and they called dynamite to their aid and got some of them in very short time. And so they proved themselves the fittest to survive. Our political system is Christian to the core; it stinks of humility and slavery. But the new Terrorism overturns all that. Tyrannicide becomes a virtue and slavery a crime. The Anarchists’ doctrine of “the equal liberty of all” does not stop short at kings and politicians, but applies to all alike. “A man’s a man for all that,” and if he claims authority for infringing upon the right of another, the Anarchist will soon relegate him to his proper place. This is the history of all government; Fools have built powerful institution for self-protection, and rogues have taken the management of them. Anarchy, knowing this, strikes direct at this greatest of all tyrannies,— the “State”. Society is just in that stage of its evolution where brute force (of which government is the concentrated embodiment) is giving way before the force of intellect,— the force which promises to govern the future. Government is one of the last semblages of the old force. Anarchy the force of the new. Men are realizing that the perpetual spoilation and exploitation of each other is not conducive tot he general welfare; that nothing is gained by each man holding down the hands of every other man; that social improvement is dependent upon the improvement of each individual part and that there is scope for improvement only where there is liberty. As local autonomy succeeds to central government, so will local autonomy give way to individual autonomy. All reforms which have benefited society have been in that direction; and it is only there that we can look for them in the future. The growth from the barbarous to the intellectual is slow, but it is none the less sure. The tyrannical “State” system promises to make room for the peaceful Anarchical community, just as the despotic monarchy has made room for “the State”. And as the edits of an angry god have been supplanted by statute laws, so they in their turn will be supplanted by respect for the individual judgment. Humanity will learn that nature is self-regulative, and can manage its affairs without the intervention of the ignorant politician, as they have already learned that it can manage its affairs without the intervention of the ignorant politician, as they have already learned that it can manage its affairs without the intervention of an imaginary god. They will learn that every great achievement has been effected by individuals and not be “states”; that individualism is the foundation-stone of progress; that self-reliance makes a well-developed man, and well-developed men make a great nation, whereas reliance on a “State” or a Communistic utopia would destroy every noble quality in them by making them beggarly idlers; that enlightened self-interest (that self-interest that respect the rights of others for its own sake) is the crowning virtue in an individual, while altruism is the great curse; that unrestricted competition is the most profitable order of natural selection; that as toleration has removed the fetters from out thoughts, so laissez-faire will remove the fetters from our actions: that as compulsion produces perversity, so voluntary action produces mutuality. The men and women of the future, in short, will learn by experience, if not by reflection, that voluntary cooperation is the only method by which to realize results satisfactory to all; and that the only system which allows such action to have full play is that of Liberty.
David A. Andrade.
South Yarra, Melbourne, Australia.
* A lecture written by David A. Andrade of Melbourne, Australia, and originally delivered by him in that city about a year ago.
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.