“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.”
The Last Man.
[Read at the Subscription Dinner connected with the Scranton Meeting of the American Institute of Mining Engineers.]
I am the famed New Zealander
Of whom Macaulay wrote,
And I have cruised around the world
In my own private boat,
A-visiting of London Bridge
And other things remote.
’Twas after I had finished with
The rains of St. Paul’s,
I turned to cross the Atlantic Sea,
In spite of waves and squalls,
To study the traces of vanished races
And see Niagara Falls.
This was the land, you understand,
That once was owned in fee
By folks who worked, and never shirked,
And worshipped Liberty —
A nation that became extinct
In the twentieth century.
From time to time strange rumors came
About their wondrous doom,
Until at last we heard no more;
So I resolved to come
And with mine own eyes see the truth,
And tell the same at home.
I steered my vessel up the Bay,
Once famous, and still fair;
A prostrate statue barred the way
That erst a torch did bear.
Its torch was in the water, and
Its heels were in the air!
I floated slowly up beside
A long deserted pier,
When at the gangway I descried
A sign, as I drew near,
Upon a sign-board old and dried:
“Boycott! No landing here!”
“Boycott!” methought I knew the word;
It was some sort of pest
That in the past, as I had heard,
Went sweeping through the West,
Scaring one half its victims dead,
And starving all the rest.
No matter! Time will disinfect
The most contagious airs;
I put my respirator on,
And washed, and said my prayers,
And, boldly stepping to the pier,
Went up the rotten stairs.
An empty town, whose dreary wastes
At human grandeur scoff!
But stay! an aged figure hastes
With many a wheezy cough,
Waving its lean and withered arms.
And wildly warns me off!
My nerves are strong, yet I confess
It was a grewsome sight,
That visage gaunt, that tattered dress,
That fiercely brandished right,
Holding a can of some strange mess
That looked like dynamite.
“Art thou the sad survivor, then,
Of all thy nation’s fate?
And how didst thou escape it, when
The rest fell desolate?”
“I am,” quoth he (and coughed again),
“The Walking Delegate!
“My duty is to walk about
And see that things stand still;
I snap my fingers — men go out
From road and mine and mill.
At least they did; but now I’ve none
On whom to work my will.
“Gone are the days when tyrants shrank
And trembled at my talk;
The Boycott took them all away;
And now I sadly stalk,
A lonesome Walking Delegate,
With nought to do but walk!
“It was a glorious fight, I ween,
We Knights of Labor won!
We cut the hours of labor down
To eight, six, four, two, none.
Sometimes! wish it had not been
Quite so completely done!
“Our last great strike the continent
O’erspread from side to side;
We had to boycott everything
To gain the point denied;
And just as we were going to win,
All parties up and died!”
“But you survived,” I said: “what power
So safely brought you through?
When no one more did anything.
What could you find to do?
When all support for others failed,
Pray, what supported you?”
Oh, but he grinned a ghastly grin!
“What did I live upon?
Why, I’m a Walking Delegate.
And no mere myrmidon!
Though all the world beside should stop,
My salary goes on!”
On Picket Duty.
“John Swinton’s Paper,” after a four years’ struggle for existence and a lavish expenditure of money, has been obliged to suspend publication. One more number will be issued, on August 21, to review its work, and that will be the last. I am very, very sorry.
The poem, “The Last Man,” printed in another column, I found in the New York “Leader,” which published it as a sample of capitalistic doggerel used in the place of argument. It is certainly capital, whether capitalistic or not. I publish it because I consider it a bit of satire as effective as deserved. It should be added, however, that its point could be turned against the capitalists with even greater effect, and that therefore it ill becomes them to use it.
The “Workmen’s Advocate,” the official organ of the Socialistic Labor Party, declares that “in the Socialistic State alcohol will not find a place except for scientific purposes.” On the other hand, Laurence Gronlund, the star philosopher of the Socialistic Labor Party, affirms that the Socialistic State will run saloons,— undoubtedly meaning by saloons places where liquor can be procured as a beverage. In this difference between the doctors we get a foretaste of the circus which life will become when the Socialistic State goes into operation.
One of the most impudent falsehoods which I have met lately is told by Ralph Beaumont, chairman of the national legislative committee of the Knights of Labor, in an article in the official organ, the “Journal of United Labor.” Among the duties entrusted to this committee is that of lobbying at Washington to secure a monopoly of the telegraph system by the government. This project was criticised by the New York “World,” and Beaumont’s article is written in answer to its criticism. In support of government telegraphy he cites the government postal service, and about the latter he makes the following astounding statement:
“There was a time when the United States mail used to be transported by corporations and others, when it used to cost twenty-five cents to carry a letter three hundred miles. The government took hold of it and reduced the charge to twelve cents, then to five, then to three, end now the letter, instead of being carried three hundred miles for twenty-five cents, may be sent three thousand miles for two cents, and, if it is written on an open postal card, for one cent.” Of course this is intended to convey the idea that government reduced the rates of postage which otherwise private enterprise would have kept up. But the truth is just the opposite. Private enterprise compelled the government to reduce rates which the government otherwise would have kept up. The first great reduction from the government’s original rates to five cents was forced upon the government, against its will and after a severe struggle, by the private mail operated by Lysander Spooner. Elaborate and detailed proof of this assertion may be found in the pamphlet, “Who Caused the Reduction of Postage?” advertised among the Spooner pamphlets in another column. Evidently the State Socialists find it necessary to falsify in order to establish the superiority of governmental administration to private enterprise.
In answer to my paragraph in No. 103 E. C. Walker writes in “Lucifer” as follows: “It is to be presumed, judging by the way he argues concerning our case, that, if Mr. Tucker should be arrested on the charge of having sold a man a paper without paying a stamp tax upon it, he would not plead that such act was not illegal, for that would be a plea that it was legal, and he could not make that horrible averment because, forsooth, he is an Anarchist!” A very unwarrantable presumption! If I simply desired to get out of the State’s clutches as speedily and safely as possible, and the plea of legality seemed the easiest way to that end, I should make it. But I should not proclaim or imagine that, in doing so I had established my liberty to sell a paper untaxed, but should hold that, unless I explained at the first opportunity that my action was a makeshift of the moment, I had done what I could to establish the claim that I am not entitled to sell papers except under conditions imposed by the law. And this would be doubly the case if my plea of legality were made in good faith, not as a makeshift, but avowedly as an exemplification of my ideas, and involved a tacit acceptance by me of certain arbitrary privileges and obligations, justified intrinsically by no true principle, but granted to and laid upon all legal newsdealers by the State, including among these privileges and obligations not only those now existing, but whatever new ones the State in its good pleasure might create in relation to that special business. Now, that is exactly what Mr. Walker did in making his plea of legal marriage as a vindication of Anarchism in sexual relations. If he made it in good faith (and he declares that he did), he not only acknowledged statute law as superior to individual liberty, but he entered into a tacit compact with the State to observe all the obligations which it now lays, or may hereafter lay, upon legal husbands. This was the consideration upon the strength of which I accused him of abandoning Anarchistic ground, and this is the consideration which he never discusses in trying to refute my accusation. I hope not to be compelled to devote space again to a repetition of this point.
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. 104.
Yet hitherto no one has thought of seriously questioning the principle,— namely, that “Value is the limit of Price,” or, in other words, that it is right to take for a thing what it is worth. It is upon this principle or maximum that all honorable trade professes now to be conducted, until instances arise in which its oppressive operation is so glaring and repugnant to the moral sense of mankind that those who carry it out are denounced as rogues and cheats. In this manner a sort of conventional limit is placed upon the application of a principle which is equally the principle of every swindling transaction, and of what is called legitimate commerce. The discovery has not hitherto been made that the principle itself is essentially vicious, and that in its infinite and all-pervading variety of applications this various principle is the source of the injustice, inequality of condition, and frightful pauperism and wretchedness which characterize the existing state of our so-called civilization. Still less has the discovery been made that there is another simple principle of traffic which, once understood and applied in practice, will effectually rectify all those monstrous evils, and introduce into human society the reign of absolute equity in all property relations, while it will lay the foundations of universal harmony in the social and moral relations as well.
144. II. — Suppose it costs me ten minutes’ labor to concoct a pill which will save your life when nothing else will; and suppose, at the same time, to render the case simple, that the knowledge of the ingredients came to me by accident, without labor or cost. It is clear that your life is worth to you more than your fortune. Am I, then, entitled to demand of you for the nostrum the whole of your property, more or less? Clearly so, if it is right to take for a thing what it is worth, which is theoretically the highest ethics of trade.
145. Forced, on the one hand, by the impossibility, existing in the nature of things, of ascertaining and measuring positive values, or of determining, in other words, what a thing is really worth, and rendered partially conscious by the obvious hardship and injustice of every unusual or extreme application of the principle that it is either no rule or a bad one, and not guided by the knowledge of any true principle out of the labyrinth of conflicting rights into which the false principle conducts, the world has practically abandoned the attempt to combine Equity with Commerce, and lowered its standard of morality to the inverse statement of the formula,— namely that “A thing is worth what it will bring,” or, in other words, that it is fitting and proper to take for a thing when sold whatever can be got for it. This, then, is what is denominated the Market Value of an article, as distinguished from its actual value. Without being more equitable as a measure of price, it certainly has a great practical advantage over the more decent theoretical statement, in the fact that it is possible to ascertain by experiment how much you can force people, through their necessities, to give. The principle, in this form, measures the price by the degree of want on the part of the purchaser,— that is, by the degree of want on the part of the purchaser,— that is, by what he supposes will provide to be the value or benefit to him of the commodity purchased, in comparison with that of the one with which he parts in the transaction. Hence it becomes immediately and continually the interest of the seller to place the purchaser in a condition of as much want as possible, to “corner” him, as the phrase is in Wall Street, and force him to buy at the dearest rate. If he is unable to increase his actual necessity, the resorts to every means of creating an imaginary want by false praises bestowed upon the qualities and uses of his goods. Hence the usages of forestalling the market, of confusing the public knowledge of Supply and Demand, of advertising and puffing worthless commodities, and the like, which constitute the existing commercial system,— a system which in our age, is ripening into putrefaction, and coming to offend the nostrils of good taste no less than the innate sense of right, which, dreadfully vitiating as it is, has failed wholly to extinguish.
146. The Value Principle in this form, as in the other, is therefore felt, without being distinctly understood, to be essentially diabolical, and hence it undergoes again a kind of sentimental modification wherever the sentiment for honesty is most potent. This last and highest expression of the doctrine of honesty, as now known in the world, may be stated in the form of the hortatory precept, “Don’t be too bad,” or “Don’t gouge too deep.” No Political Economist, Financier, Moralist or Religionist has any more definite standard of right in commercial transactions than that. It is not too much to affirm that neither Political Economist, Financier, Moralist, nor Religionist knows at this day, nor ever has known, what it is to be honest. The religious teacher, who exhorts his hearers from Sabbath to Sabbath to be fair in their dealings with each other and with the outside world, does not know, and could not for his life tell, how much he is, in fair dealing or equity, bound to pay his washerwoman or his housekeeper for any service whatever which they may render. The sentiment of honesty exists, but the science of honesty is wanting. The sentiment is first in order. The science must be an outgrowth, a consequential development, of the sentiment. The precepts of Christian Morality deal properly with that which is the soul of the other, leaving to intellectual investigation the discovery of its scientific complement.
147. It follows from what has been said that the Value Principle is the commercial embodiment of the essential element of conquest and war,— war transferred from the battlefield to the counter,— none the less opposed, however, to the spirit of Christian Morality or the sentiment of human brotherhood. In bodily conflict the physically strong conquer and subject the physically weak. In the conflict of trade the intellectually astute and powerful conquer and subject those who are intellectually feeble, or whose intellectual development is not of the precise kind to fit them for the conflict of wits in the matter of trade. With the progress of civilization and development we have ceased to think that superior physical strength gives the right of conquest and subjugation. We have graduated, in idea, out of the period of physical dominion. We remain, however, as yet in the period of intellectual conquest or plunder. It has not been questioned hitherto, as a general proposition, that the man who has superior intellectual endowments to others has a right resulting therefrom to profit thereby at the cost of others. In the extreme applications of the admission only is the conclusion ever denied. In the whole field of what are denominated the legitimate operations of trade there is no other law recognized than the relative “smartness” or shrewdness of the parties, modified at most by the sentimental precept stated above.
148. The intrinsic wrongfulness of the principal axioms and practice of existing commerce will appear to every reflecting mind from the preceding analysis. It will be proper, however, before dismissing the consideration of the Value Principle, to trace out a little more in detail some of its specific results.
The principle itself being essentially iniquitous, all the fruits of the principle are necessarily pernicious.
149. I. — It renders falsehood and hypocrisy a necessary concomitant of trade. Where the object is to by cheap and sell dear, the parties find their interest in mutual deception. It is taught, in theory, that “honesty is the best policy,” in the long run, but in practice the merchant discovers speedily that he must starve if he acts upon the precept — in the short run. Honesty — even as much honesty as can be arrived at — is not the best policy under the present unscientific system of commerce, if by the best policy is meant that which tends to success in business. Professional merchants know the fact well, and conscientious merchants deplore it; but they see no remedy. The theory of trade taught to innocent youths in the retired family, or the Sunday school, would ruin any clerk, if adhered to behind the counter, in a fortnight. Hence it is uniformly abandoned and a new system of morality acquired the moment a practical application is to be made of the instruction. A frank disclosure, by the merchant, of all the secret advantages in his possession would destroy his reputation for sagacity as effectually as it would that of the gambler among this associates. Both commerce and gambling, as professions, are systems of strategy. It is the business of both parties to a trade to overreach each other,— a fact which finds its unblushing announcement in the maxim of the Common Law, Caveat emptor (let the purchaser take care).
150. II. — It makes the rich richer, and the poor poorer. Trade being, under this system, the intellectual correspondence to the occupation of the cut-throat or conqueror under the reign of physical force, the stronger consequently accumulating more than his share at the cost of the destruction of the weaker,— the consequence of the principle is that the occupation of trade, for those who possess intellectual superiority, with other favorable conditions, enables them to accumulate more than their share of wealth, while it reduces those whose intellectual development — of the precise kind requisite for this species of contest — and whose material conditions are less favorable, to wretchedness and poverty.
151. III. — It creates trade for trade’s sake, and augments the number of non-producers, whose support is chargeable upon Labor. As trade, under the operation of this principle, offers the temptation of illicit gains and rapid wealth at the expense of others, it creates trade where there is no necessity for trade,— not as a beneficent interchange of commodities between producers and consumers, but as a means of speculation. Hence thousands are withdrawn from actual production and thrust unnecessarily into the business of exchanging, mutually devouring each other by competition, and drawing their subsistence and their wealth from the producing classes, without rendering any equivalent service. Hence the interminable range of intermediates between the producer and consumer, the total defeat of organization and economy in the distribution of products, and the intolerable burden of the unproductive classes upon labor, together with a host of the frightful results of pauperism and crime.
152. IV. — It degrades the dignity of labor. Inasmuch as trade, under the operation of this principle, is more profitable or at any rate is liable to be, promises to be, and in a portion of cases is more profitable than productive labor, it follows that the road to wealth and social distinction lies in that direction. Hence “Commerce is King.” Hence, again, productive labor is depreciated and condemned. It holds the same relation to commerce in this age — under the reign of intellectual superiority — that commerce itself held a few generations since — under the reign of physical force — to military achievement, personal or hereditary. Thus the degradation of labor, and all the innumerable evils which follow in its train, in our existing civilization, find their efficient cause in this same false principle of exchanging products. The next stage of progress will be the inauguration of Equity,— equality in the results of every species of industry according to burdens and the consequent accession of labor to the highest rank of human estimation. Commerce will then sink to a mere brokerage, paid, like any other species of labor, according to its repugnance, as the army is now sinking to a mere police force. It will be reduced to the simplest and most direct methods of exchange, and made to be the merest servant of production, which will come, in its turn, to be regarded as conferring the only true patents of nobility.
153. V. — It prevents the possibility of a scientific Adjustment of Supply to Demand. It has been already shown that speculation is the cause why there has never been, and cannot now be, any scientific Adaptation of Supply to Demand. (35, 36.) It has also been partially shown, at various points, that speculation, or trading in chances and fluctuations in the market, has its root in the Value Principle, and that the Cost Principle extinguishes speculation. It will be proper, however, in this connection to define exactly the limits of speculation, and to point out more specifically how the Value Principle creates it, and how the Cost Principle extinguishes it.
154. By speculation is meant, in the ordinary language of trade, risky and unusual enterprises entered upon for the sake of more than ordinary profits, and in that sense there is attached to it, among merchants, a slight shade of imputation of dishonesty or disreputable conduct. As we are seeking now, however, to employ language in an exact and scientific way, we must find a more precise definition of the term. The line between ordinary and more than ordinary profits is too vague for a scientific treatise. At one extremity of the long succession of chance-dealing and advantage-taking transactions stands gambling, which is denounced by the common verdict of mankind as merely a more specious form of robbery. It holds the same relation to robbery itself that dueling holds to murder. Where is the other end of succession? At what point does a man begin to take an undue advantage of his fellow-man in a commercial transaction? It clearly appears, from all that has been shown, that he does so from the moment that he receives from him more than an exact equivalent of cost. But it is the constant endeavor of every trader, upon any other than the Cost Principle, to do that. The business of the merchant is profit-making. Profit signifies, etymologically, something made over and above,— that is, something beyond an equivalent, or, in its simplest expression, something for nothing.
155. It is clear, then, that there is no difference between profit-making in its mildest form, speculation in its opprobrious sense as the middle term, and gambling as the ultimate, except in degree. There is simply the bad gradation of rank which there is between the slaveholder, the driver on the slave plantation, and the slave dealer, or between the man of pleasure, the harlot, and the pimp.
156. The philanthropy of the age is moving heaven and earth to the overthrow of the institution of slavery. But slavery has no scientific definition. It is thought to consist in the feature of chattelism, but an ingenious lawyer would run his pen through every statute upon slavery in existence, and expunge that fiction of the law, and yet leave slavery, for all practical purposes, precisely what it is now. It needs only to appropriate the services of the man by operation of law, instead of the man himself. The only distinction, then, left between his condition and that of the laborer who is robbed by the operation of a false commercial principle would be in the fact of the oppression being more tangible and undisguisedly degrading to his manhood.
157. If, in any transaction, I get from you some portion of your earnings without an equivalent, I begin to make you my slave,— to confiscate you in my uses; if I get a larger portion of your services without an equivalent, I make you still further my slave; and, finally, I obtain the whole of your services without an equivalent,— except the means of keeping you in working condition for my sake,— I make you completely my slave. Slavery is merely one development of a general system of human oppression, for which we have no comprehensive term in English, but which the French Socialists denominate exploitation,— the abstraction, directly or indirectly, from the working classes of the fruits of their labor. In the case of the slave the instrument of that abstraction is force and legal enactment. In the case of the laborer, generally, it is speculation in the large sense, or profit-making. The slaveholder will be found, therefore, upon a scientific analysis, to hold the same relation to the trader, which the freebooter holds to the blackleg. It is a question of taste which to admire most, the dare-devil boldness of the one, or the oily and intriguing propensities and performances of the other.
158. But, you exclaim, why should I sell at cost? How am I to live as a merchant without profits? Never you mind. That is not the question now up. Perhaps the world has no particular use for you as a merchant. We will take care of all that by and by. Just now all that we are doing is to settle the nature of certain principles. We shall want some merchants after all, and will pay them just what they are equitably entitled to. Do you want more? I shall now be understood when I say that the Cost Principle is merely the mutual abandonment, on all hands, of every species of Profit-Making,— each contenting himself with simple Equivalents of Cost in every exchange. It will be perceived, too, that the term speculation is used as synonymous with profit-making, when it is affirmed that that has hitherto defeated the Adaptation of Supply to Demand. With the cessation of profit-making there is no longer any temptation to conceal from each other any species of knowledge bearing upon that subject. At that point gazetteers, catalogs, and statistical publications of all sorts spring into existence, giving exact information upon every point connected with the demand and supply of labor and commodities and the production and distribution of wealth.
159. VI. — The Value Principle renders Competition destructive and desperate. The general subject of Competition will be more fully considered under another head. (202.) The consequence here stated follows in part as a necessary result of the preceding one, the want of Adaptation of Supply to Demand, and in part from the robbery of labor by the system now in operation. In the existing state of things there is an apparent surplus of both commodities and laborers, and the result is that men and women who are able to work, and willing to work, are not able to find employment. Hence, to be thrown out of occupation by competition is a frightful calamity, always implying distress, frequently destitution and wretchedness, and sometimes absolute starvation, while the fear of such a catastrophe is a demon which haunts continually the imagination of the workingman, afflicting him with a misery hardly less real than the occurrence of the calamity itself. It is the tendency and direct effect of competition to throw out the inferior workman from every occupation, and to supply his place by the superior workman in that particular branch of industry. This tendency, direful as its consequences are in the existing state of things, is nevertheless a right tendency, and society ought to be organized upon such principles that it should have full pay — to an extent far beyond what it now has — with no other than beneficent results to all. It is perfectly right that the inferior workman should be thrown out of any employment to make room for the superior workman in that employment. To retain the inferior workman in any occupation, while there is in the whole world a superior workman for that occupation, who can do the same work at less cost, and therefore upon the Cost Principle at a less price, is bad economy of means,— as base as it is to employ an inferior machine or process after a superior machine or process has been discovered,— and any system or set of relations which works out bad results from such appropriate substitution of the superior for the inferior instrument must be itself essentially bad.
To be continued.
By Georges Sauton.
Translated from the French for Liberty by Sarah E. Holmes.
Continued from No. 104.
He interrupted his warm caresses only for demonstrations and to entreat her to return to life, which, in accordance with the wishes expressed by her, he would make sweet for her, reverential in the future of earthly pleasures filled with all the felicities of starry and seraphic dreams.
“Quite sure!” murmured the palpitating woman, as she revived, questioning him with her looks, which sparkled like the first stars of the evening.
And to prove to her the need of his promises, on his knees, wandering, embellishing with variations the old eternal expressions of love, he imposed a check on the increasing impetuosity of his ardor, he purchased, with a timid suitor’s courtship, the signs of favor which usually, without such long preambles, he took by assault cavalierly.
But their sham prudence, their hypocritical pretence of reserve, did not last long, and soon, electrified by the furtive touching of their cheeks, inflamed by the mingling of their breath and the meeting of their incandescent glances, they yielded entirely to their passionate desires.
For a fortnight after this violent reconciliation, their criminal love was perpetuated in a possession disturbed by no person and no event, but rather favored both by persons and by things.
Newington, summoned to the other end of the county with the troops for urgent operations, had left, refusing Bradwell the honor of accompanying him. He punished him thus for his scandalous conduct on the battle-field; and, if “the friend of Miss Marian” escaped a court-martial, Richard owed it to the implacability displayed by him at last, which atoned for his moment of sentimental aberration.
A fortnight followed of damnable delights, spiced, refined, extravagant, during which the thought of the Irish girl haunted Richard’s mind only at infinitely short and inappreciable intervals, in the fleeting shape of an effaced image, except once, when it was impressed upon him more distinctly, almost tangibly.
In view of the castle windows a convoy of emaciated prisoners, bent with fatigue and inanition, filed between ranks of soldiers; and Bradwell, who was roaming about the apartment in a frightfully enervated condition, gaping at the red rays of the setting sun, while Lady Ellen was dressing for dinner,— Bradwell, whose mind, broken like his body, moved in a sad, slow, and yet wandering way, thought he saw Treor’s granddaughter in the group which the guards were maltreating.
He restrained an exclamation of pity which would have been caught by the Duchess, who had noiselessly entered the room and advanced close to him without his perceiving the rustle of her dress. She had planned a surprise for her lover, to excite his admiration. He stared at her, and then broke out into applause and praise and thanks. She presented a divinely adorable appearance in a Louis XV. costume incomparably coquettish in style and cut outrageously low in the neck, and her satin skin was shown with great effect by numerous artificial marks placed upon her neck and face. She looked younger by ten years.
With her half-closed eyelids, accented with a pencil stroke, with her carmine, half-open, provoking lips, with her rows of teeth parting in a smile pointed like a rose-bud by the vermilion tip of her tongue, which lay like a serpent under roses, the irresistible Duchess eclipsed without difficulty the mournful and gloomy face of the prisoner marching below, bent like an octogenarian, and who, Richard convinced himself, gave simply an impression of Marian, but was not she, or anyone really resembling her.
And Lady Ellen kept daily in store for him these superb surprises, renewing herself by ingenious incarnations,— today a gallant Marquise Pompadour; yesterday a mystical silhouette caught sight of in the depths of a cloister, a Gothic figure taken from a window, an innocent lady of the ages of chivalry who delighted in the tales of the troubadours; tomorrow the formal face of the court of Elizabeth, with the stiff waist, and the form imprisoned in heavy and close folds, and perhaps in the same day the lively manola of the Prado, at ease in her loose-fitting bodice, a pomegranate or jasmine blossom in her hair, and a cigarette between her laughing lips.
Thus bewitched, if by chance,— a circumstance more and more rare,— at the suggestion of a fact or a word, the image of Marian outlined itself, a shadow hardly seizable by Bradwell but partially awakened from his dream, annoyed and disturbed, he straightway drove away the troublesome apparition, running, in case it persisted, to take refuge, like a frightened victim of hallucination, a cowardly deserter of the heart, in the atmosphere, in the lap, in the always open and always hospitable arms of the Duchess!
There he would forget both the abandoned girl and the Duke, though reminders of the latter nevertheless arose everywhere, in the high official portraits ornamenting the halls, in the title of Duchess with which Lady Ellen was daily saluted before him and which he himself gave to his mistress when he spoke of her to others.
Thus he lay, languishing and enervated, in the continuous moral torpor of drinkers who have plunged into a succession of intoxications, awaking suddenly only at the news that Sir Newington would return within a week. The forces of the rebels having been annihilated in the country under his orders, the Duke was returning to take up his winter quarters at Cumslen-Park, where he would reside without leaving again unless called away by new and unforeseen events.
Infatuated with his easy exploits, having had to subjugate only weak and demoralized bodies of men, he was looking forward to celebrating his laurels by the resumption of festivities, and especially to receiving from Lady Ellen “the crown to which he most aspired,” the highest reward which he coveted,— the marks of her wifely affection.
In his correspondence, entirely explicit on this point, he insisted on it from one end to the other with the heavy grace which characterized him, and, probably writing after drinking, in the fumes of the liquor which flowed at the triumphal banquets, he formulated his desires without disguise, without dissimulation, and with an uncouthness, assurance, and impropriety of expression which revolutionized Richard, stirred his gall, and poisoned his blood with a murderous rancor.
Returning the abhorred letter which Ellen had handed him to read, quivering under the outrage, really sickened in a sincere rebellion of his whole being, he showed a face so wild, which betrayed such a resentment of his rival in the past, such a hatred of him for the pretensions which he uttered concerning the future, that the Duchess, precipitating herself, blushing, on his breast, swore to him that never should the boor, the clumsy and brutal soldier, touch her, or even repeat to her in his moments of lust one of the infamous phrases there written!
No, he should breathe the subtle perfume of her hair only while imprinting a paternal kiss on her forehead, and he should be permitted no other liberty, she affirmed, than a commonplace kiss on her gloved hand.
But Richard considered even this embrace, this touch of the lips, as an invasion of his rights, and his jealousy was exasperated when his father, the moment of his arrival, paid ardent court to Ellen, twenty times more gallant than on his departure, put in a mood for conquest by his association with victory, over-excited by the superb and brilliant beauty of the Duchess, who was more charming and seductive than ever.
The neighbors of the castle were present at a military dinner given the same evening, at which, with animation, bluster, and swagger, they emptied as many bumpers as they had won victories over the enemy, whose forces consisted of a few small detachments remaining in the country and which they crushed, being ten or twenty to the enemy’s one. They proposed as many noisy toasts as each of these gilded officers ascribed to his comrade, in order that the comrade might recognize in turn an equal number to his credit, and the whole laced, bedizened company, clucking their war stories, showing off pompously, bursting with vain-glory, showed in regard to Sir Bradwell such an indifference, rendered more noticeable by the praises with which they overwhelmed Newington, that Richard, seized ten times with the sudden temptation to quarrel, restraining himself on account of the Duchess, who enjoined him to be calm, withdrew, after the repast, into the solitude of a disused hall, where he could, however, watch the Duke, following the play of his features as he talked with Lady Ellen.
Twenty times more he was about to rush forward to disturb their interview, because, in his view, Ellen did not close it soon enough, but rather endured it without the impatience which he supposed her to feel, or even, one would have said, with some satisfaction.
But suddenly her attitude became reserved instead of gracious, and she held herself upon her dignity, while the Duke, on the contrary, became more and more inflamed, as, looking out from under his bushy contracting eyebrows, he darted lustful glances at his wife, of which Ellen appeared brutally heedless.
Clenching his fists, Richard marched directly towards the group, reddening, the blood humming in his head, congested, and staggering, his legs as weak as a drunken man’s.
Although her back was towards him, the Duchess heard him coming, and to avoid the irreparable scandal of an inevitable scene between father and son, prompt, smiling, she turned directly round, and, leaning on the arm of her lover, led him into another room, leaving the Duke stupefied at this desertion, and appeasing Richard with these whispered words:
“You consent to his disappearance, do you not?”
“Yes!” said Bradwell, shuddering; and at that moment he would doubtless have killed the Duke with his own hand.
After some minutes, leaving Richard, whom she sent to his apartments, promising to join him there, the Duchess returned to Sir Newington, and, by a clever and plausible falsehood, similarly calmed the irritation excited in him and which was turning to suspicion.
“Thank me,” she said; “I do not know on the strength of what rumors Richard imagines that you have caused the execution of the troublesome Marian, with her sad heart, and he was hastening straight to you to heap the most virulent reproaches on you. I had been watching him for a moment.”
“That was the explanation, then,” interrupted the Duke joyfully, “of your sudden change toward me; the reason why, from being charming and delightful with me, you suddenly became more than cold, icy?”
“Frozen with fear, with apprehension of some deplorable affront, and of terror lest it should carry him to excess.”
“What will check madmen in their folly?”
“You believe that he would not have respected in me his commander and his father in one?”
“I tell you that his madness is extreme. During your absence, on several occasions, he wanted to kill himself. I have taken from his hands the dagger with which Treor’s granddaughter, as they have told you, tried to strike him on the battle-field.”
“Perhaps you did wrong! I do not speak of the danger to which, according to you, his mental derangement exposes me; but I would rather see him dead than dishonored by this imbecile and guilty passion which is a defection, a desertion to the enemy.”
“Oh! Duke, is it a father who speaks?”
“It is the indignant commander.”
“Whose rigor would warrant the rebellion and the ingratitude of the son and the subordinate, if he heard you.”
Bradwell returned a second before, devoured by irresistible jealousy, and had been listening at a distance, in the shadow of the tapestries; and Lady Ellen, who was aware of it, insisted at length on Sir Newington’s disposition in regard to his son.
She compared him to the Romans, capable of ordering themselves to inflict the punishment of Brutus on their own child for lack of discipline; and the proud and hard Englishman, flattered by the comparison, bristled up and confessed that he so comprehended his duty as the leader of the army.
“Oh! You fill me with horror!” protested the Duchess, energetically, inwardly applauding herself for her manoeuvre and for the avowal she had drawn out, which would intensify the virile resolution of Bradwell if he, perchance, was weakening and allowing himself to be moved by timid and foolish prejudices concerning family and a father’s sacred character, whatever it may be!
But in vain she awaited the wrath which, at the same time, she tried to provoke in order to free herself from the gallantries of the soldier, whose desire was increased, on the contrary, by her generous anger, which set her off and rendered her superb, and she could not get away from him.
By good fortune, in an adjoining hall, where they were serving drinks of all kinds to the guests, growing more and more thirsty, loud and noisy calls arose for the Duke to join in new toasts, and all tongues, growing more free in speech, although physically more tied, soon decreed that Sir Newington belonged, for this night, to his companions in arms, for a last bout with the bottles, and, willy-nilly, joining with the others in this drunkards’ task, priding himself on his work, ridiculously vain of this vile business, the general, surpassing his lieutenants, swallowed such quantities of liquor that at last, having put his guests under the table where they were snoring like cocks, he ended by rolling into the heap himself, completely drunk.
When he awoke, his body benumbed with cold, his temples on fire, in broad daylight, licked by his little Myrrha who, according to her habit on such occasions, refreshed his face, the first idea in his stony brain was to resume the conversation with the Duchess interrupted the previous evening, and still hiccoughing, gaping wide enough to dislocate his jaws, his eyes ridiculously swollen and not at all seductive, his palate so clammy that the words adhered to it, his beard stiff and his hair bushy, he started for Lady Ellen’s apartments.
But as he stopped on the way in front of a sideboard, to pour a tumblerful of water to cool the heat of his throat, an outburst of laughter and the railleries of a sprightly voice saluted him.
Fresh and blooming as the month of May, in a periwinkle toilet, the Duchess, in the act of polishing her nails, was watching him with a sly and rebellious look, her eyes gleaming with a mischievous roguery which made her seem ten years younger.
Ah! the man smitten desperately, she had the air of saying, and who drowns in his cups his reason and his forces, who slides under the table when he might be gliding into a perfumed bed, and who now, with a tormenting headache, a brain empty and heavy as lead, and eyelids weighed down by an urgent need of sleep, must think of nothing but sleeping till the next day in his silent and dark chamber, steadily and dreamlessly!
A night and a day lost at sixty years, and when he felt disposed! what a waste, what lamentable prodigality! And perhaps even tomorrow would be spent in restoring the energies consumed by this night of orgies! What imprudence! especially with a creature as fantastic and as changeable as the diabolical Duchess Ellen! Yesterday she could receive the homage of Sir Newington, seduced by his prestige as a conqueror, caught with the fumes of his glory. Woman often changes; the occasion of this good-will might never be found again; but in its place whims without number which would disappoint the Duke!
The mimicry, discreet as it was, and finely but so expressively shaded, distressed completely the poor Duke, entirely discomfited, whose piteous face presented such a comical aspect that under any other circumstances Lady Ellen, not at all charitable in temperament and willingly following her caprices at her husband’s expense, would have broken out into a wild, imperious laugh.
But she repressed it, reflecting that, to secure her ends, she must inflame him and fill him with desire.
She had planned everything to perpetrate the crime approved by Richard, and in a fold of the ample sleeve in which played her beautiful bare arm lay Marian’s dagger, while from Treor’s casemate had been coming, for some hours, to serve her projects, the sounds of the old man’s violin, by turns melancholy, plaintive, passionate, furious, and fantastic.
For some days the previously quiet cell of the prisoner, whom they held as hostage in case of the return of fortune to the Irish, had been filled with music as soon as daylight appeared; and sometimes even during the night the strains were heard, but more softly, as if the fear of disturbing those asleep had muffled the voice of the instrument, lightening the bow in the old man’s fingers.
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.
The Spooner Publication Fund.
Previously acknowledged . . . . $35.50
James Thierry . . . . . . 2.00
L. Ashleigh . . . . . . 2.50
Total . . . . . . $40.00
A Spirit More Evil Than Alcohol.
The authority of learning, the tyranny of science, which Bakounine foresaw, deprecated, and denounced, never found blunter expression than in an article by T. B. Wakeman in the August number of the “Freethinkers’ Magazine,” in which the writer endeavors to prove, on scientific grounds alone, that alcohol is an unmitigated evil, a poison that ought never to be taken into the human system. My knowledge of chemistry and physiology is too limited to enable me to judge of the scientific soundness of the attempted demonstration; but I do know that it is admirably well written, wonderfully attractive, powerfully plausible, important if true, and therefore worthy of answer by those who alone are competent to answer it if it can be answered. Such an answer I hope to see; and, if it arrives, I shall weigh it against Mr. Wakeman’s argument, award a verdict for myself, and act upon it for myself,— if I am allowed to do so.
But it is plain that, if Mr. Wakeman’s party gets into power, no such privilege will be granted me. For, after having asserted most positively that this “verdict of science” can be made so manifest that it will become “a personal prohibition law, which no person in his senses would violate any more than he would cut his own throat,” in which case its compulsory enforcement will be entirely unnecessary except upon persons out of their senses, Mr. Wakeman goes on to say that it is the duty of the lawyers (of whom he is one) to see to it that the manufacture, sale, and use of alcohol as a beverage shall be outlawed, proscribed, and prohibited just as arsenic is, and that, like arsenic, it shall be sold only as a labeled poison. Rather a summary way, it seems to me, of cramming science down the throats of people who like a glass of claret better! “Ah!” some reader will say, “you forget that this compulsory abstinence is only to be enforced upon people out of their senses, probably hopeless sots who are a public danger.”
This consideration possibly would afford a grain of consolation, had not Mr. Wakeman taken pains in another paragraph to leave no one in doubt as to the meaning of the phrase “in his senses.” It is not applicable, he declares, to any drinker of alcohol who claims to “know when he has enough,” for “that very remark shows that alcohol has already stolen away his brains.” His position, then, is that the law of total abstinence will enforce itself upon all men in their senses, for no man in his senses will drink alcohol after hearing the verdict of science; but that men who drink alcohol, however moderately, are out of their senses, and must be “treated, by force if necessary, as diseased lunatics.”
Was any priest, any pope, any czar ever guilty of teaching a more fanatical, more bigoted, more tyrannical doctrine?
Does Mr. Wakeman imagine that he can restore men to their senses by any such disregard of their individualities?
Does he think that the way to strengthen the individuals reason and will is to force them into disuse by substituting for them the reason and will of a body of savants?
In that case I commend him to the words of Bakounine: “A society which should obey legislation emanating from a scientific academy, not because it understood itself the rational character of this legislation (in which case the existence of the academy would become useless), but because this legislation, emanating from the academy, was imposed in the name of a science which it venerated without comprehending,— such a society would be a society, not of men, but of brutes. It would be a second edition of these missions in Paraguay which submitted so long to the government of the Jesuits. It would surely and rapidly descend to the lowest stage of idiocy.”
The mightiest foe of the human mind is not alcohol, by any means. It is that spirit of arrogance which prompts the conclusion of Mr. Wakeman’s essay, and which, if encouraged, would induce a mental paralysis far more universal and far more hopeless than any that science will ever be able to trace to the spirit of alcohol.
A Back Town Heard From.
The Winsted “Press” makes a long leader to ridicule the Anarchists for favoring private enterprise in the letter-carrying business. It grounds its ridicule on two claims,— first, that private enterprise would charge high rates of postage, and, second, that it would not furnish transportation to out-of-the-way points. An indisputable fact has frequently been cited in Liberty which instantly and utterly overthrows both of these claims. Its frequent citation, however, has had no effect upon the believers in a government postal monopoly. I do not expect another repetition to produce any effect upon the Winsted “Press”; still I shall try it.
Some half-dozen years ago, when letter postage was still three cents, Wells, Fargo & Co. were doing a large business in carrying letters throughout the Pacific States and Territories. Their rate was five cents, more than three of which they expended, as the legal monopoly required, in purchasing of the United States a stamped envelope in which to carry the letter entrusted to their care. That is to say, on every letter which they carried they had to pay a tax of more than three cents. Exclusive of this tax, Wells, Fargo & Co. got less than two cents for each letter which they carried, while the government got three cents for each letter which it carried itself, and more than three cents for each letter which Wells, Fargo & Co. carried. On the other hand, it cost every individual five cents to send by Wells, Fargo & Co., and only three to send by the government. Moreover, the area covered was one in which immensity of distance, sparseness of population, and irregularities of surface made out-of-the-way points unusually difficult of access. Still, in spite of all these advantages on the side of the government, its patronage steadily dwindled, while that of Wells, Fargo & Co. as steadily grew. Pecuniarily this of course was a benefit to the government. But for this very reason such a condition of affairs was all the more mortifying. Hence the postmaster-general sent a special commissioner to investigate the matter. He fulfilled his duty, and reported to his superior that Wells, Fargo & Co. were complying with the law in every particular, and were taking away the business of the government by furnishing a prompter and securer mail service, not alone to principal points, but to more points and remoter points than were included in the government list of post-offices.
Whether this state of things still continues I do not know. I presume, however, that it does, though the adoption of two-cent postage may have changed it. In either case, the fact is one that triumphs over all possible sarcasms. In view of it, what becomes of Editor Pinney’s fear of ruinous rates of postage and his philanthropic anxiety on account of the dwellers in Wayback and Hunkertown?
“The Cause of Interest.”
It is an oft-repeated and not entirely meaningless saying that “time justifies all things”; but it was left for Henry George to make the wonderful discovery that “time” bears the undivided responsibility for the existence of economic interest, against which silly people vainly argue. It is certainly a novel and original idea that “the element of time is the sole cause and justification of interest,” and we shall take pleasure in giving it a brief examination,— the more so because we have hitherto failed to elicit from Mr. George any more definite and intelligible reason in favor of interest than that it is “a product of a product, wage of wages.”
“If apple trees,” writes Henry George, “were common property, and apples picked in the summer and stored up would grow all through the winter, no one would take a little apple picked this summer in exchange for a big one picked last summer. A bottle of wine made last year will exchange for more than a bottle of wine made this year.” In these cases it is undoubtedly true that “a year’s time would make a difference in value,” but it is not true that this increase is the reward of anything else than the trouble and labor of a year’s keeping of these labor products. What the defenders of interest have to prove in these instances is that, if I surrender to another the commodity I have produced, I am entitled, in addition to the exact equivalent of the surrendered commodity, and the equitable compensation for the loss of time or benefit, if any, incident to such surrender, to a greater or smaller share of that subsequent increase in its value which is the result of his care and exertion. The argument that I could have kept the product and reaped the whole reward, which Mr. George is sometimes guilty of putting forward is in the highest degree absurd, for I should then simply receive pay for the keeping of the product and the cost of bringing it to its improved state, which I cannot demand if another has done the keeping. Mr. George holds with us that land — natural opportunities — and labor only are the ultimate economic factors, and that, land being free, labor is the only thing which is entitled to a reward. But he claims that “capital is a subdivision of labor,” and that interest is a form of wages, a remote return to labor. Inasmuch, however, as labor can create wealth without the aid of capital, while capital, without the aid of labor, cannot even secure itself against the fatal tendency to diminish and dissolve, it is obvious that the “wages” to capital must in the last analysis come out of labor’s pockets.
Now, it is perfectly true that labor can employ itself to far greater advantage when it is furnished with capital, and, conditions remaining as they are, he who furnishes capital does labor a service. Under freedom this service will be rendered at cost, and it generally costs nothing. But, while monopoly lasts, it will doubtless continue to be rendered at a monopoly price. Whether, therefore, idle capital has, or has not, a right to increase is a matter of minor importance. We are demonstrating, as Proudhon expressed it, the impossibility of interest, the ruinous and anti-social effect of the organization of economic forces that allows interest to exist. We show that capital increases at the expense of labor, and ultimately has to share the misery which it entails on labor by expropriating it. As Proudhon answered Bastiat, the main question is not whether interest is legitimate, but whether it is necessary and cannot be done away with to the advantage of all by a reorganization of the system of exchange. If, by disabling the money monopoly, capital can be placed at the disposal of all industrious and enterprising laborers, and interest made to disappear of itself, there is clearly no logic and no wisdom in debating the proposition that labor, under existing difficulties, after it has been defrauded of half its earnings, cannot expect to get the use of capital from those who robbed it, and profit by it, without giving capital a part of the advantage. Is Mr. George confident of his ability to prove that the element of time will be the cause of interest under a free money system? I fear he is not, and leave it to time to justify my doubts as well as to correct his errors.
In the latter part of 1884 Burnette G. Haskell warned the readers of the San Francisco “Truth” against my view of competition in the following words: “Bear in mind that the first plank in Mr. Tucker’s platform is ‘free competition.’ And this (when competition is the cause of our misery) he declares to be a remedy! He virtually says, if one ounce of arsenic makes you ill, take two in order to recover!” In the Denver “Labor Enquirer” of July 23, 1887, Haskell furnishes a plan for the abolition of poverty, and of this plan he speaks as follows: “Our governing boards will in brief decide to regulate corporations and wealthy men, not by rope or repressive laws, not by confiscation, but by competition. The terrible force that they have used so long to grind us down to poverty, we in our turn will now use to forever secure our own. . . . The corner-stone of the capitalistic argument is the right to free competition. They claim that it is necessary and just; they fight for the right of any number of men to combine as a corporation, and enter the field as competitors. We the people do this and nothing more. We combine in our corporation, the State, and enter the field. When the capitalist class entered business, they took the risk of free competition,— really free. What matters it to us if they prated as they did, relying upon their power to keep the State out of the field or to use it simply to help on their private ends? They challenged the world, their spears clanged defiantly upon all shields, they dared to fight beneath that banner of ‘personal liberty,’ — now let them feel the weight of the lance and meet the shock of charging arms. We fight beneath the flag that they themselves have raised.” So Haskell himself has concluded to double the dose of arsenic. I congratulate him on this evidence of growth, and hope he will “bear in mind,” in order to avoid saying anything inconsistent with it, “that the first plank in” his “platform is free competition.”
On Mr. Kelly’s Final Statement.
To the Editor of Liberty:
I think I never forgot that Mr. Kelly believes in duties prior to promises and consequently independent of promises. Against Mr. Kelly’s statement that I construed him to mean that without promises we are without obligations, I refer to what has been printed. It will show that I kept Mr. Kelly’s position in view, but I contended that satisfactory conduct may result from natural good will without any feeling of moral obligation.
Moral obligation is not properly defined by explaining the single word “obligation” in the sense of philosophical necessity. For illustration, the embezzler and the assassin act in accordance with philosophical necessity. If Mr. Kelly should say that they act according to moral obligation, he would stultify himself.
I have never advocated killing the Chinese. In approaching other men, I am disposed to take the first steps at my own cost to see whether it is possible to derive mutual benefit from the relation.
Economics I regard as different from morals, and in economics I agree with Mr. Kelly.
By using the word “special” he has suggested something general, but this is not the way to prove that the basis of accord is anything more than similarity of organisms and conditions. One contract may be more special than another, but, to my thinking, a contract presumes simply contracting parties and conditions.
According to evolution and observation objective realities are changing. Then practical justice must take form according to the number and qualities of the objective realities which give rise to it at any time. I design writing a brief analysis of justice to show that this ideal is a composition of apperception and sympathy.
Mr. Kelly says that he knows of “no ego other than the combined ideas and feelings at any given time.” Do the readers imagine, then, that Mr. Kelly has been discussing Egoism as advanced by Stirner and myself? Mr. Kelly’s ego is utterly unlike our Ego. When Mr. Kelly wrote before about a spookish, unconditioned ego, I simply answered that the ego of which I speak is an animal. If there is one disjunction which must be clearer than another, it is the distinction between the real and the ideal. The Ego of which I speak is real. I mean my own organism. Hence, as I speak of the reel, I can consistently speak of ideas as its furniture. But an Ego, or person, composed of ideas and feelings, would be mere moonshine. In “Der Einzige” Stirner says that he does not mean Fichte’s ideal ego, but “this transitory I,” the man Stirner.
In a matter of wrong (wringing, twisting) there are the doer and the sufferer, perhaps also a spectator. From their different standpoints various considerations may arise besides that of imprudence, which latter is among the considerations specially for the wrong-doer.
Mr. Kelly has simply mistaken my meaning in the sentence which he correctly quotes, ending with the words “he is not allowed in thought to be a standard of good for himself.” I meant in the thought of the moralist; otherwise I should have written the words in different order, with punctuation. I knew that the moralist must in fact allow me to be a standard for myself; and it would not be worth while to ask the moralist to allow me to be, in thought, a standard for myself, for over my thinking he cannot dominate. I quite agree with Mr. Kelly that, as soon as a being in pursuit of his good commits acts injurious to others, it is time for them and their allies to stop him.
I do claim and know that there is a better use for friends than to sell them; and, as I feel with Stirner, I believe that I comprehend Stirner better than Mr. Kelly does. Interest in others and profit to be derived from their company mean more to us than to the moralist, precisely as morals means more to the moralist who has rejected religion than to the religionist who regards morality as an outhouse to religion.
I have not yet undertaken to reconcile Proudhon and Stirner all the way through. For such a task the first step would be to reconcile Proudhon with Proudhon. The reasons which I and Stirner can give why the young man should be given a chance to show himself are such as I doubt not Mr. Kelly would approve. We desire to find, to aid, and be aided by as many free and intelligent men as possible. What Mr. Kelly really wants to know is how I and Stirner came to have such desires. Let him interrogate the forces which created us sentient individuals, or be content with the fact. Proudhon, who exclaimed: “A moi Lucifer, Satan, qui que tu sois, demon que la foi de mes peres opposa a Dieu et a l’eglise! Je porterai ta parole,” — Proudhon would not reject our aid.
The extracts given by Mr. Kelly from Proudhon show a temperament and expression very different from Stirner’s. These may be found to conceal a greater degree of agreement in purpose than Mr. Kelly has yet discovered. Take these words: “And that he who has renounced God continues to adore Justice, even though it be nothing else than the commandment of himself to himself, the principle and law of social dignity.” Methinks that smacks of the intrepid Stirner. Now listen to Stirner (p. 311): “It is contemptible to deceive a confidence which we have freely called forth; but it is no shame to Egoism to allow anyone who has tried to get us into his power by an oath, to suffer by the ill-success of his distrustful artifice. If you have tried to bind me, learn then that I know how to break my fetters.” Would this sentiment stain Proudhon?
In the extracts it is asked, what is this Justice if not the essence that has been adored as God? But afterward Proudhon declares war against God. May we not possibly, by a further step, have found the same essence in a still nearer form,— nothing else than the commandment of one’s self to himself? If the form Justice then appears superfluous, fossilized, and an abstraction, we are advancing still to understand that of which God, and the Idea, and Rights, and Justice, were successive reflections. When I know and feel myself, I need neither God nor moral law. The Justice which Proudhon worshipped and served was an emanation from himself. Stirner has taken the sceptre of Truth and beaten it into a pruning-hook, and now Truth, no longer an idle queen, may handle the scrubbing brush and make herself generally useful.
That Proudhon used the word egoism in a way not to make it admired makes no essential difference. There are other egoists than those who take the name.
There is some rhapsody in Proudhon, and Anarchists may note also that he puts devotion to one’s country along with justice. Stirner, on the contrary, will abolish all frontiers and recognize only individuals.
I draw attention to the last of Mr. Kelly’s extracts,— that Justice is not a simple notion, but that “it is also the product of a faculty or function which comes into play as soon as man finds himself in the presence of man.” This is very suggestive. The men, then, are the objective realities from whose presence together justice comes as a product of a function. Is not this creating justice? Simply put, this is justice,— the result of absolute individual sovereignty, or Egoism, as I and Stirner use the term.
I will now present a few further extracts from Proudhon, taken without any long search. They are to show, firstly, that as a vivacious writer his imaginative expressions are not to be seriously weighed against his logic; and, secondly, that he does express in somewhat different terms the doctrine which I call Egoism.
I swear before God and before men, upon the Gospel and the constitution. — Probleme Sociale, p. 259.
He who by poverty has been led to steal and is punished remains forever the enemy of God and man. — Contradictions, I, p. 313.
God is stupidity and cowardice, hypocrisy and lies, tyranny and wretchedness; God is eviL. — Ibid., p. 360.
Charity! I deny charity; it is mysticism. Vainly you sneak to me of fraternity and love. If you love me, it is through interest. Devotion! I deny devotion; it is mysticism. Speak to me of debit and credit. If I am drawn to aid you, I will do so gracefully, but I will not be obliged to. — Ibid., p. 228.
Humanism is most thorough theisM. — Ibid., p, 369.
The New Philosophy, subverting method, breaking the authority of God as well as that of man, and accepting no other yoke than that of fact and evidence, makes everything converge toward the theological hypothesis as toward the last of its problems. Humanitarian atheism is, therefore, the last term of the moral and intellectual enfranchisement of man; consequently, the last phase of philosophy, serving as a passage to the reconstruction or verification of all the demolished dogmas. — Ibid., p. 22.
Philosophy is merely a deceptive method consisting in going from the general to the particular. — De l’Ordre, p. 58.
I am in need of the hypothesis of God to justify my style. — Contradictions, I, p. 25.
A headless society, so to speak, cannot live. — Creation de l’Ordre, p. 485.
[The preceding statement was attacked by Stirner.]
But let us not blaspheme royalty, for to do so would be blaspheming humanity. — Ibid., p. 311.
Wherever religion appears, it is by no means as an organizing principle, but as a means of subjugating men’s wills. — De l’Ordre, p. 17.
Respect for contracts, fidelity to one’s word, the obligation of oaths, are the fictions — the ossicles, as the famed Lysander well said — with which society deceives the strong and puts them under the yoke. — Contradictions, I, p. 263.
Instead of regarding the man and his fellow, the prince and the citizen, as two terms the relation of which existed independently of consciousness and constituted the real moral law, they have imagined that this law preexisted. — De l’Ordre, p. 69.
Morality is not a science: it is an encyclopaedia. . . For, as two forces, being united, produce a complex effect quite different from the simple effect to which each one of them could give rise, and incommensurable with this, as from the combination of two simple bodies there results a composite the properties of which were not found in either of the originals. . . .
Now, just as the decisions of reason in man received the name of idea, just so the decisions of his liberty received the name of volition, sentiments, habits, morals. Then language, figurative in its nature, continuing to supply the elements of the primary psychology, people have contracted a habit of assigning to ideas, as a place or capacity where they dwell, the intelligence; and to volitions, sentiments, etc., the consciousness. All these abstractions have for a long time been taken by the philosophers for realities, their psychology being merely a will o’ the wisp. — Contradictions.
To be a member of a democracy it is necessary in law, independently of the quality of frankness, to have made choice of the liberal system. . . . As a variety of the liberal regime, I have distinguished Anarchy, or government of each one for himself. . . . It consists in the fact that, political functions being reduced to industrial functions, social order would result from the sole fact of business and exchanges. Then every one would be able to term himself the autocrat of himself, which is the furthest opposite of monarchical absolutisM. — Du Principe Federatif, p. 16.
To found the society it is necessary to set forth, not simply an idea, but a judicial act. — Ibid., p. 53.
There are three modes of conceiving law, according to the point of view. . . . as a believer, as a philosopher, and as a citizen. 1, Command; 2, Expression of the relation of things; 3, The arbitral statute of the human will; theory of contract. The social system to which they give rise is not the same. By the first, man declares himself subject of the law and its author or representative; by the second, he acknowledges himself an integral part of a vast organism; by the third, he makes the law his own and frees himself from all authority, fatality, and rulership. The first formula is that of the religious man; the second that of the pantheist; the third that of the republican [Anarchist]. This one alone is compatible with liberty. — Ibid, p. 53.
The social contract extends only to exchanges. — Idee Generate, p. 118.
They have agreed among themselves mutually to keep faith and right; that is to say, to respect the rules of business which the nature of things indicates to them as alone capable of insuring them in the largest measure of welfare, safety, and peace. Will you adhere to their compact? become a part of their society? If you refuse, you are a part of the society of savages. Nothing protects you. . . . If you swear to the compact, you become a part of the society of free men. — Ibid., p. 312.
Here I close, trusting that economists will especially note the extract beginning “Morality is not a science.”
About Abolishing the State.
Nothing strikes the average man of the present day with more exasperating force than the proposition to “abolish the State.” He grows red in the face, and is at his wits’ end to know what to do or what to say. The absurdity of the thing is what at first overwhelms him. He laughs ; for the idea is too funny. Then, as gradually it dawns on him that his tormentor is really in earnest, he passes into a somewhat more serious frame of mind. But he is puzzled still.
“What,” he asks himself, “can this fellow mean? He must be somehow off his base. And yet he is no fool. In fact, he is far enough from being a fool. And yet — and yet — why doesn’t he see how absurd and foolish the idea is? I am ashamed, almost, to argue the case with him, for in a sense it is like carrying coals to Newcastle. Ho can’t have overlooked arguments that must instantly suggest themselves to the dullest school-boy. There’s something wrong! There’s something wrong! I can’t understand it.”
And this hereditary champion of the State’s everlasting continuance shakes his head, and turns, without a doubt in his mind of the strength and justness of his cause, to bring his millennial, utopian, visionary, misguided friend back to the ways of truth and soberness.
He finds himself suddenly invested with a mission. He has on his hands a serious piece of business. He is, as it were, by divine providence charged with the cure of a lunatic.
We shall see how he gets on.
It is the glorious Fourth of July, 1886.
The two friends are on a pilgrimage to Concord. They have been to Sleepy Hollow, where Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne lie, and thence traveled back and seated themselves in a cool, shady spot by Walden Pond, well removed from where the noisy Prohibitionists are holding their “picnic” and preaching their crusade against intoxicating beverages.
“The worst State that ever existed was better than none,” exclaims he of the-new-found mission, as he throws himself on the ground; “mankind were at least saved from cutting each other’s throats.”
“Probably that worst State monopolized the business,” is the quiet retort. “In its hands throat-cutting, murder, became a legal pastime.”
And from this start the discussion here following proceeded.
Shall we not name it a discussion between the State’s Missionary and his imaginary “Lunatic”?
Let the sequel show in whose brain-cells lunacy was deepest rooted.
Lunatic — “I would like to ask you a question or two. You are by profession a Christian minister. Well, I am not. I am neither Christian nor minister. But I have made a somewhat careful study of that man of Nazareth whom you profess to worship, and I am greatly drawn by the commanding genius of the man. He was, indeed, a remarkable character; possibly you Christians are right in saying he was and is the most remarkable in history. But with you it is apparently a hearsay; the idea has drifted down to you from the early fathers, whose impressions of the man were undoubtedly very vivid. You take it secondhand, and grasping him, so to speak, as you would a handle, from the outside, you haven’t the courage to enter in and sup with him face to face.”
Missionary. — “Go on.”
L. — “No more had I once; or I didn’t think of it. The fact being, when I was, as I supposed, a Christian, this man Jesus was no man at all, but a sort of nondescript, mysterious, creature let down from somewhere in the sky, having no vital connecting link with us people of the earth, save that he would save our souls in another world if we believed in him, or damn them in another world if we didn’t. He didn’t come here to stay, but just for a sympathetic call as it were; being sent by his heavenly father on the special errand but for which all earth’s children would have been consigned to endless misery. For this reason it didn’t occur to me to study very much into his teachings as to the present life, — our earth-life. I read the New Testament, but it was for most part words, words,— all outside work. But there came a time when, though yet a mere lad, I stepped out of dogmatic religion and, for the first time, so to speak, got an introduction to Jesus Christ, and began to understand what he was driving at. Then I saw what blind guides all these Christians had really been to me, at any rate. So I said, you are no Christians. To be Christian yon must at least have some idea of the thought of the man whose name you adopt. I will show you what true Christianity is. But, as I reflected, it came to me that there was no reason for using another man’s name to christen ideas and doctrines that were after all the common property of all mankind. Jesus invented nothing. He saw some things in advance of others, — very important to see, but belonging, not to him, but to human nature. In that mine of our common nature he had sought and found rich treasure, but, like the sunlight, it was treasure he could not, if disposed, set up any private claim to, for it was free gift to all seeking souls. So, why give it the appearance even of being his special private fortune, and regard him as the generous donor or giver of a life equally the property of all?
“No, it was not Christianity, then, I would embrace, but Humanity.”
M. — “All this is very interesting; but Where’s your question?”
L. — “I’m coming to it. This was preface, yon know. If I shouted my question ever so loud from the top of the Alleghany Mountains, you wouldn’t hear me. I must bring you into hearing distance. ‘He that hath ears to hear,’ Jesus kept saying. I must in some way prepare your ears for hearing, or you would go off in wildest directions.
“You professed, I said, to be Christian. Now, what do you mean by that title? Are you Christian as I was, or as I now am not?“
M. — “Rather an Irish way of putting it. But I suppose I understand yon. Both ways, in a sense. I am a Liberal Christian, and so, of course, do not lay great stress on the mere doctrinal or theological side. But I think Jesus had a divine mission, differing in sort from that of any other man ; but I reject wholly the idea of his dying a substitute for the sins of the world. Every man’s character is and will be his passport here and into heaven. It was the mission of Christ to reach man on his spiritual side and develop the kingdom of God within him. This, I take it, is in some sort like the idea you have. I call it the Christian idea; you the human—shall I say? So far, then, do we understand each other?”
L. — “So far, possibly; but we shall see how much farther. Thus far is nothing particular, taking it alone. It is a starting point. I leave you your theological ideas of the divine, etc. It signifies nothing. I take Jesus simply as a man; what more he may have been you can speculate on to your heart’s content. As a man he preached certain ideas in regard to human nature. You say you accept him as authority; you will not go back on his word. I think he struck the right vein and found good human ore, — specimens of everlasting life, so to speak. We can all do the same, if we will; richer and better ore may appear. At all events, we shall not hesitate to use this fine gold of humanity for all available purposes. I only go back and connect Jesus with it because you are committed to it, if you find he was; and that will save a perhaps needless dispute. And yet I would you could sec and appreciate the truth for its own sake. And then Jesus Christ has been much maligned by the Church and his professed followers. He cuts a sorry figure in history as they display him. He is not here to defend himself. Let us take his part, while we at the same moment save the good cause.”
To be continued.
A Letter of Protest.
To the Editor of Liberty:
Without this being the age of “preternatural suspicion” we might well be led to suppose that you had been “hired by the enemy” to bring disgrace upon the cause of agnosticism and Anarchism by allowing such distortions of their principles as Tak Kak has presented to appear in the columns of Liberty with little or no comment from you. Can we wonder that the Church and the State are thought necessary to restrain us, if we recognize no rule of conduct save the satisfaction if our own immediate desires, if to submit ourselves to be titled by the ideas of justice and right is to make slaves of ourselves? Is Tennyson’s Philip Edgar not, as we had supposed, a base caricature of the representatives of our creed, but a true and worthy representative thereof, for he but carried into practice the ideas enunciated by Tak Kak in No. 84 in his “Egoism in Sexual Relations” (to which you not only offered no objection, but, I have been informed, failed to insert an extract from one of humanity’s truest friends, Clifford, which effectually disposed of Tak Kak).
Man only knows, the worse for him! for why
Cannot he take his pastime like the flies?
And if my pleasure breed another’s pain,
Well — is not that the course of Nature too,
From the dim dawn of being — her main law
Whereby she grows in beauty — that her flies
Must massacre each other? this poor Nature!
Are we Anarchists, whose proud boast has been that we are in the van of human progress, to discard all the truths which the latter half of the century has firmly established, to leave Spencer and Clifford and George Eliot and Morley, and fall back into the acceptance of the crude half-truths perceived by the men of the last century and transported by Stirner and others of his kind into this? Men of the eighteenth century, forgive me; we are going to surpass you in crudity; we are going to decide each question as it comes up,— not as you would have decided it, in favor of what you considered the “greatest happiness of the greatest number,” — no, we shall always decide in favor of our happiness; — our happiness, did I say? — there is no our, no one but me. I am the only one. All the rest of you are only puppets for me to use as best I can. Truth and justice and liberty are spooks, and all are ghost-ridden who believe in such things, and who would regulate their lives in accordance with such beliefs.
O Liberty, what are you being published for, for what is the Proudhon Library and the Spooner Library and all the other libraries, but to aid in the propagation of the belief in spooks? You dare not in the face of your life and work openly champion Tak Kak, to whose views you in private say you give full adherence. In the face of your scathing denunciations of the “fire-bugs,” the time-servers, the politicians, and the cork-screws, the advocate of the plumb-line dare not deny that there is a plumb-line.
Leaving you to your conscience, for I am sure that you have one, inherited from past generations of social beings, I have few words to say to your adherents in this controversy. Though I do not deny any man’s right to write under another name than his own, still, in general, the cause of honesty and consistency is best served by having a writer responsible for all that he writes. I wish that I could bring before the readers of Liberty by means of the “deadly parallel column” the statements made by Tak Kak as Tak Kak, and those made by him under his own name. Your readers would be forced to conclude either that he is thoroughly dishonest, or that he is utterly silly, us it would be impossible for an honest, intelligent man to hold two such opposite sets of opinions at the same time.
It is a fact observed for a long time that not the founders, but the disciples, of a creed show up its absurdities in the most glaring way. The zeal which the disciples display in carrying out the master’s ideas, thus bringing them to their logical conclusion, their endeavor to bring their lives into accord with them, will, if the creed contains absurdities, inevitably bring them to light. It would be highly amusing, were the subject not such a serious one, to see our poor little friend Yarros, the disciple, try to make the ideas of Tak and Tucker, the masters, accord with his mode of living and thinking. The ideas on egoism which you and Tak Kak profess to hold really form so small a part of you that you never feel compelled to bring them into consistency with your other views or with your way of living. But with Yarros it is different, he is young and enthusiastic, and must make these new ideas conform to his old ones, or the old ones conform to them. Unfortunately, the latter is what he has chosen to do, and the first signs of his moral degradation have already appeared in his letter on “Sentimentalism at the Spooner Meeting,” in which he states that the cause of our admiration for Lysander Spooner is that “we entertain a hope to live and enjoy its blessings” [of the age of reason] which he worked to bring about. The inference is that, if we do not expect to live and enjoy it, there is no reason why we should honor Spooner. O egoism, carried to sublime heights! But where did Spooner’s egoism come in? In,— as you quoted,— “obeying the voice at eve obeyed at prime,” in subjection to “spooks,” When Mr. Yarros becomes older and wiser, I dilute he will not be inclined to speak so disparagingly of the religious idea as he now is. The religious idea, as apart from the special dogma or church in which it was for the time being clothed, always represented man’s highest ideal, and as such is worthy of our respect. In this sense, Anarchism is a religion to us, and then is nothing improper in speaking of it as such. We are not separated by a great gulf from our ancestors. They placed their ideals in the skies; we have simply removed them to the earth, where there is more chance of their being realized.
It is not in any light spirit, but with all the earnestness of which I am capable, that I would warn Mr. Yarros that he has entered upon a very dangerous downward path, and that the sooner he leaves it, the better and easier will it be. There may come a time, distant as it now seems, when it will be impossible for him to retrace his steps. He has but to keep repeating to himself such sentences as those on Lysander Spooner, to keep before his mind his own happiness as the goal always to be reached, in order that very soon his devotion to liberty shall seem a very ridiculous thing in his eyes.
Deplorable as is the spectacle afforded us by Mr. Yarros, it is as nothing compared with that which a true disciple of Tak Kak would present. Mr. Yarros, deny it as he may, has still some “spooks,” such as liberty and equity, to which he is attached, but a true disciple would have none, and those of Liberty’s readers who would wish to meet him face to face need only go to Gorge Eliot, who has well pictured him in Tito Molema, or still better go to Diderot, who has drawn him in all his ghastly hideousness in “Rameau’s Nephew.”
Far removed as I am in ideas of what constitutes justice and truth from such men as Dr. McGlynn, Father Huntington, and William Morris, I feel myself much more closely bound to them by that common bond of human sympathy which connects all those who are working in a similar cause,— for, however much we may differ, they as well as I are seeking to discover what is right,— than I do to such wretches as Wordsworth Donisthorpe, whose ideas bear a hideous resemblance to my own,— a wretch who recognizes no rigid but might, and argues that men are as fit objects of prey as whitebait. And yet it is of such men, we are informed, according to the new doctrine, that Anarchy expects to make her converts. My friends, my friends, have you completely lost your heads? Cannot you see that without morality, without the recognition of others’ rights, Anarchy, in any other than the vulgar sense, could not last a single day?
Gertrude B. Kelly.
[The same facts and considerations which influenced me not to renew my discussion upon this subject with John F. Kelly govern me here also. Therefore I shall not go into the merits of the question. Besides, it is needless to do so, for I conceive that the tone of Miss Kelly’s article, when placed in contrast with the dignity and evident self-command which she has shown in almost everything else she has written, is sufficient indication of the weakness of her present position. Nevertheless she has made several incidental statements which call for explanation and correction. In the first place, as to the extract from Clifford. Some one’s memory is at fault here,— either mine or another’s. John F. Kelly sent me a letter containing a quotation from Clifford. I supposed it to be a private letter, as it related to the subject of Egoism, about which we were engaged in private correspondence. Nevertheless I asked him if he desired me to print the extract in Liberty. In his answer he expressed no preference about it, simply telling me to follow my own choice in the matter. As I had no desire to print it unless he wished it to appear, I did not print it. That is my recollection of the affair. Perhaps I am wrong. If so, I should like to be set right. In any case it borders on the ridiculous to accuse me of desiring to suppress anything of this sort after I have placed columns on columns of space in this paper at the disposal of the moralists in which to defend their ideas as they deem best. And they can have columns more if they want them, and print Clifford to their hearts’ content. It is equally ridiculous to charge that I “dare not openly champion Tak Kak,” though I do in private. In my comments on one of Mr. Kelly’s articles I have stated my position in as unmistakable language as I could put together, and that which I declare in private does not differ from if. I do not think that Tak Kak would shrink from the submission of all that he has written, over whatever signature, to the “deadly parallel column”; nevertheless I do not know to what Miss Kelly refers. So far as I know, Tak Kak has published nothing over his own name. Where Miss Kelly finds her warrant for the patronizing tone in which she discusses Mr. Yarros is not made plain. Both she and Mr. Yarros are persons of exceptionally keen intellect; both are unusually well-read and well-informed. Is it possible that her confident assumption of superiority is founded solely upon the fact that she is Mr. Yarros’s elder — by one year? So much for incidentals. As for the main question, I am content to leave it — for today at any rate — in the minds of Liberty’s readers as it stands. On the other hand, if any of the disputants have anything further to offer, I shall be equally content to listen. — Editor Liberty.]
Miss Kelly,— the Young and the Old.
To the Editor of Liberty:
My egoism does not prevent me from either feeling or giving expression to deep and sincere regret at the lamentable signs of intellectual feebleness and decline transpiring in Miss Kelly’s curious letter. When she was “younger,” she chiefly relied upon reason, logic, and facts for the support of her views; now all that is replaced by assertion, assumption, presumption, denunciation, and exhortation. This has as little effect on me as her professions of scorn and contempt for my personality, which, I may remark parenthetically, are insincere, for it is generally understood that persons held in contempt are neither paid much attention to nor “warned with all the earnestness of which one is capable.”
Miss Kelly makes some philosophical observations concerning the services of disciples in general and my carrying my roasters’ (“Tak and Tucker”) doctrines to sublime heights of absurdity in particular, in which she is guilty of a misapplication in the first place, and an arbitrary and baseless assumption in the second. Far from carrying the Egoistic doctrine to extremes, what I stated was merely the very first and fundamental assertion of the doctrine. If Miss Kelly can demonstrate that people do, as a matter of fact, or ought to do, anything for any other reason than the pleasure which they find in, or expect of, the act, she cannot possibly render her own cause any greater service than by undertaking the task forthwith. Names, however, even such as “wretch,” are no argument. As to my discipleship, historical accuracy requires it of me to inform her that “Tak, Tucker,” and Stirner have only strengthened and more fully developed the ideas which I had learned a number of years ago in a tongue unknown to her and from writers whose names she would much easier spell than pronounce.
I fail to discover any kinship between the “greatest happiness of the greatest number” doctrine, which was the result of a clumsy attempt at constructing an artificial system of morality, and the doctrine of Egoism, which rejects all systems of morality and makes reason the sole guide of the individual and personal happiness his only object. Nor has Miss Kelly succeeded in convincing me that the religious spirit is a thing to be cherished and respected. I have only her word for it, and, though she is so much older and wiser than I am, it is impossible for me to accept her view without proof, for which I shall be waiting.
There is no danger of my finding Anarchism ridiculous and abandoning it,— at least, no more than there is of my ever losing the pleasant habit of occasionally enjoying a glass of good, fresh lager beer. I work for Anarchy because the work is a source of pleasure to me. But on the part of Miss Kelly there is such danger. Not being aide to answer the whitebait argument, she seeks refuge in the company of Father Huntington and Dr. McGlynn. Human sympathy is an excellent thing, but you can’t make it the foundation of justice, as a friend of mine, then a young lady of Hoboken, showed in a very fine article entitled, “Self-Interest, Not Love, the Foundation of Justice,” two years or so ago in a certain Boston paper called Liberty. Perhaps if Miss Kelly reads that, and some other things, and dispassionately considers the position of the Egoists, she will realize her errors.
Opinions of That “Wretch,” Spinoza.
[Treatise on Politics.]
By the right of nature I understand the laws of nature themselves, or the rules according to which all things happen,— that is, the power itself of nature; and thus the natural right of all nature, and consequently of every single individual, extends just so far as his power extends; and therefore whatever any and every man does according to the laws of his nature, he does by the highest right of nature, and he has only so much right over nature as his power avails.
If therefore human nature were so constituted that men lived solely in accordance with the prescripts of reason, and aimed at nothing else, the law of nature, in as far as it is considered as belonging to the human race, would be determined by the power of reason alone. But men are more led by blind desire than by reason, and therefore the natural power or right of men must be determined, not by reason, but by the appetite, whatever it may be, by which they are impelled to action, and by which they strive to conserve themselves. I confess, indeed, that those desires which do not spring from reason are not so much human actions as passions. But, as we are treating of the universal power or right of nature, we can here recognize no difference between the desires which spring from reason, and those which arise within us from other causes: since the latter, no less than the former, are effects of nature, and express the natural force by which Man strives to continue in his being. For man, whether wise or ignorant, is a portion of nature, and all that by which any one is determined to action must be ascribed to the power of nature, in as far as this can be defined by the nature of this or of that man. For man, whether led by reason or merely by desire, does nothing but in accordance with the laws and rules of nature,— that is, does nothing but in accordance with natural right.
. . . . .
We conclude that it is not in the power of every man always to use reason, and to stand on the highest pinnacle of human freedom; and that nevertheless every one, as far as in him lies, strives to conserve his being, and (as every one has only so much right as he has might) every one, whether wise or ignorant, in whatever he strives and acts, by the highest right of nature so strives and acts. Whence it follows that the right and institution of nature under which all men are born and for the most part live forbid nothing except what is included in no one’s desire and ability, that they condemn neither contentions, nor hatreds, nor anger, nor frauds, nor absolutely anything which appetite solicits. Nor is this wonderful. For nature is not bounded by the laws of human reason, which have in view nothing but the real benefit and conservation of men, but by infinite other laws, which have regard to the eternal order of universal nature, of which man is only a small part, all individuals by the sole necessity of that order being determined in a certain mode to exist and to operate. Whatever therefore in nature seems to us ridiculous, absurd, or bad, is so because we see things only in part, and are in a great measure ignorant of the order and connection of universal nature, and because we wish that all things should be directed according to the inculcations of our reason, whereas what reason declares to be bad is not bad in relation to the order and laws of universal nature, but only in relation to the laws of our own nature.
Besides, it follows that every one is so long under the right of another as he is under the might of another, and is under his own right in so far as he is able to repel all force, to revenge as seems best to him any injury he has suffered, and, in general, to live in such a way as is most agreeable to his disposition.
One man has another man in his power when he keeps him in chains, or takes from him arms and the means of defence or of flight, or inspires him with fear, or so binds him to himself by benefits conferred that the person obliged prefers complying with the humor and living according to the opinion of his benefactor to following his own impulses and convictions. He who has another in his power in the first or second manner possesses his body only, but not his mind; in the third or fourth manner, however, he possesses his mind as well as his body; yet no longer than while fear or hope continues; either of which being removed, the subject man comes under his own right.
The faculty of judging also can only so far be under the control of another as it is possible for the mind to be deceived by another. From which it follows that the mind is only so far its own master as it can use reason aright. And inasmuch as human power must not be estimated by strength of body, but by fortitude of mind, it hence follows that those are most their own masters who most excel in reason, and are most guided by it; and therefore I call a man perfectly free in so far as he is guided by reason, because in so far he is determined to action by causes which by his nature, and without going beyond it, can be adequately understood, though he is necessarily determined to action by them. For liberty does not remove the necessity of action, but posits it.
A promise given to another, by which merely in words some one agrees to do this or that which according to his right he could omit or the contrary, remains valid only so long as his will who has given the promise does not change. For he who has the power of dispensing with his promise has not in reality ceded his right, but he has merely spoken certain words. If, therefore, he who by the right of nature is his own judge believes that from the promise given more harm than benefit would flow, he deems in accordance with the opinion of his mind that the promise must be dispensed with, and by the right of nature he dispenses with it accordingly.
If two persons agree together to unite their energies, they, thus united, have more power, and consequently have more right over nature, than if each of them were alone, and the greater the number who thus join their needs and strengths so much the more right will they altogether have.
In so far as men are brought into conflict by anger, envy, or any other feeling of hatred, in so far they are driven in divers directions and are opposed to each other; and are the more to be dreaded the more they excel the other animals in power, cunning, and sagacity; and, because men for the most part are liable by nature to passions, men are thus by nature enemies. For he is my greatest enemy whom I have most to dread, and against whom I have chiefly to guard.
Since, however, every one, in a natural state, is so long his own master as he can protect himself from the oppression of another, and since one alone would try in vain to protect himself against all, it hence fellows that as long as the right of men is determined by every one singly and belongs to every one singly, so long it is no right at all, but exists rather in idea than in reality, as there is no security for its maintenance. And it is certain that every one has so much the less power, and consequently so much the less right, the more he has cause to be in fear. To which is to be added that without mutual assistance men can scarcely sustain their life and cultivate their mind; and thus we conclude that the right of nature which belongs to the human race can scarcely be conceived except where men have common rights and unite in the defence of a territory so as to be able to inhabit and cultivate it, to repel every attack, and to live according to arrangements to which all have consented. For the more they thus unite themselves, so much the more right have they all together; and if the scholastics, for the reason that men in a natural state are scarcely able to maintain their rights, are disposed to conclude that man is a social animal, I have no wish to contradict them or ground for doing so.
. . . . .
From what we have stated in this chapter it is evident that in a state of nature there cannot be any sin, or, if any one sin, he sins against himself and not against others; for by the right of nature no one, unless willing is bound to seek the pleasure or obey the commands of another, or to consider anything as good or bad except what by his own perception he finds to be good or evil; and by the right of nature nothing is absolutely prohibited except what no one is able to do. . . . If men were constrained by the institution of nature to he led by reason, then all would necessarily be led by reason. . . . But men are chiefly led by appetite without reason, and yet they do not disturb, but follow, the order of nature; and therefore the man of weak and ignorant mind is no more bound by the right of nature to conduct his life wisely than the man suffering from disease is bound to be sound in body.
. . . . .
As therefore, strictly considered, sin and obedience cannot be conceived of except under a government, it is the same with justice and injustice. For there is nothing in nature of which it can be said that it belongs to one person and not to another, for all things belong to all who have the power to maintain their claim to them. But in a commonwealth, where by common right it is decreed what belongs to one person and what to another,* he is called just who has the steadfast will to give to every one what belongs to him; he, on the other hand, unjust who endeavors to appropriate what is another’s.
Besides, I have shown in my Ethics that praise and blame are emotions of joy and grief, accompanied by the idea of human virtue ** or of human weakness as cause.
. . . . .
Right is determined by Might alone.
* Instead of this the Anarchistic Egoist would say: “But in a voluntary association, where by common consent some general principle of property is agreed upon as most conducive to social order and therefore to the happiness of each,— as, for instance, that the laborer should be left unmolested in the possession of the fruits of his labor or whatever he freely exchanges therefor,— he is called just,” etc. — Editor Liberty.
** It is evident that the word virtue here is used to signify strength simply — Editor Liberty.
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.