“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
The next meeting of the Anarchists’ Club will be held in Codman Hall, 176 Tremont Street, on Sunday, February 12, at half past two o’clock. A paper will be read by Benj. R. Tucker, his subject being: “State Socialism and Anarchism: How Far They Agree and Wherein They Differ.” This is the same paper that he read before the Manhattan Liberal Club of New York on Friday, January 27; before the Liberal League of Newark on Sunday, January 29; and before the Round Table of Boston on Thursday, February 9.
Not content with getting the “age of consent” raised from ten to thirteen, a bevy of impertinent and prudish women went up to the Massachusetts State House the other day and asked that it be raised again,— this time to eighteen. When a member of the legislative committee suggested that the age be placed at thirty-five, since the offence aimed at was as much a crime at thirty-five as eighteen, the petitioners did not seem to be terrified by his logic. Evidently these ladies are not afraid that their consent will ever be asked at all.
“The Anarchists’ March,” that stirring rhythmical composition from the pen of J. Wm. Lloyd which was published in Liberty a number of months ago, and which was designed by him to be sung to the tune of a Finnish war song, has been printed with the music as a handsome four-page sheet, and I have it for sale at the low price of ten cents. A copy of it should go into the house of every Anarchistic family which is fortunate enough to have a musical member. It is especially well fitted for a chorus of male voices, and singing societies will find it a valuable addition to their programmes.
Mr. Yarros has reason to complain, as he shows, of unfair interpretation of his words by “Jus,” but Liberty would itself be unfair to “Jus” if it should not also present the evidence of that journal’s fairness by printing its handsome acknowledgment of error (given on the seventh page) regarding boycotting. “Jus” still thinks, however, that something may be said on the other side, and declares that there are some things that one person may rightfully do which become illegal and immoral when done by a crowd. I should like to have “Jus” give an instance. There are some invasive acts or threats which cannot be executed by individuals, but require crowds — or conspiracies, if you will — for their accomplishment. But the guilt still arises from the invasive character of the act, and not from the fact of conspiracy. No individual has a right to do any act which is invasive, but any number of individuals may rightfully “conspire” to commit any act which is non-invasive. “Jus” acknowledges the force of Liberty’s argument that A may as properly boycott C as B. Further consideration, I think, will compel it to acknowledge that A and B combined may as properly boycott C as may A alone or B alone.
Many of the most fierce free traders are equally fierce in their ardor for the adoption of international copyright. To which of their pet ideas many of them give the preference is shown by their support of the copyright bill now before congress, one provision of which absolutely prohibits the importation of English editions of English authors when there is a copyrighted American edition in the market. In this bill we have a fine specimen of the protection afforded us by government. John Ruskin publishes an elegant illustrated edition of “Modern Painters.” Some cheap American publisher buys the American copyright, and publishes a cheap edition with poor illustrations or none at all. American readers of Ruskin then forbidden to buy the handsome English edition. They must content themselves with the nasty American edition or go without. But do you see the motive of this provision, reader? It is simply a piece of political bribery,— the machinery of the ward-room adopted by the preachers of “pure politics.” The cheap American publishers have been the great obstacle in the way of international copyright, and this provision protecting them against competition from England after they have once bought the copyright is a bid for their support of the copyright bill. But lo! there arises a new opposition. No sooner do the free traders declare for protection in the sphere which involves their special interest than certain protectionists who in the same sphere find freedom beneficial forget their theories with equal readiness. Most trades-unionists favor protection as the safeguard of the laborer. But now the Typographical Union, many of whose members find steady employment in consequence of the freedom with which English works are reprinted in this country, is horror-stricken at a proposal to protect home industry in the writing of books, and intends to fight it bitterly. Would that some modern Diogenes would explore the political arena with his lantern in search of an honest man!
Attempt to Kill Louise Michel.
On Sunday evening, January 22, just at the adjournment of a meeting which she had been addressing in the Gaiety Music Hall at Havre, Louise Michel, the revolutionary heroine of France, was made the object of an assassin’s attack. A man named Lucas, standing behind her, fired a revolver at her twice, the shots taking effect in her head. Fortunately the wounds inflicted, though serious, did not endanger her life.
In the afternoon she had lectured in Saint Francois Hall in the same city. The evening lecture was more especially designed for the working people. “As long as she spoke,” the “Petit Havrais,” an Opportunist organ, was obliged,to confess, “she commanded the attention of her hearers, was even listened with pleasure, we will say, so much art did she bring to the presentation of her theories under a humanitarian form, so many refinements did she use to avoid shocking the most prejudiced of her audience, and so many pleasing and poetical expressions did she employ.”
When she had finished her speech, Louise Michel and her friends became the objects of violent personal attacks from a group of individuals. Louise took the trouble to answer them. The meeting had just been adjourned, when the attempt was made upon her life.
Hit by two balls, the courageous woman endured heroically the first operation performed by the doctors. Seated at a table, she laid her head upon a napkin, while the physicians probed the wounds. The scratching of the steel upon the bone drew no sound of complaint from Louise, in spite of her atrocious suffering. She talked quietly of her cousin, who awaited her at home, of her caged pets who would not be set at liberty till her return, of a business appointment with her publisher, and of her forthcoming book, “Encyclopedic Readings.”
She begged for mercy for her assailant, saying:
“Have them let him go! he is a poor madman.”
She asked also that no sensation should be created regarding his criminal act, and even that no report should be telegraphed to Paris lest her friends should be made anxious.
The next day she was taken to Paris, and a reporter of “L’Intransigeant” soon called upon her. He found her in her small and scantily-furnished apartments at No. 95 Victor Hugo Street. On the wall of the front room hung a portrait of the Chicago martyrs. Louise Michel sat at a table, surrounded by a few friends, her head bandaged in linen.
“Imagine,” said she, “that they want to take me to the Beaujon Hospital to be examined by Dr. Labbé. The idea that I should disturb him at this late hour, and for what? I am not Ferry, and do not wish to appear sicker than I am.” “But you have a bullet in your head,” said the reporter. “You cannot remain in this condition.”
“There will be time enough tomorrow. You pay much more attention to my wounds than I accord to them myself. Remember that I am not a woman, but a combatant. Let us talk of something else. But first I beg you to promise to help me to release from the hands of justice the unfortunate man who fired at me and whom I pity with all my heart.”
“But he is a miserable bandit.”
“No, he is an unfortunate victim of hallucination, of whom the reactionists have made a tool. They have abused him. They knew that he was fond of drink. He was drunk when he fired the shots. Let him go in peace. He is a poor brute, a man of the stone age.”
Upon tho reporter’s urgent request, Louise Michel then told the following story of the crime.
“The bourgeois meeting passed off quietly, the public listening attentively. From that meeting my friends and I went to Gaiety Music Hall for the evening meeting. We found more than two thousand men and women in the hall. Two fine meetings would have been too much for the reactionists. So in the interval between them they formed a conspiracy against us.
“During my address I was interrupted several times by cries coming from a certain group, one member of which finally appealed to the secretary to know what was to be done with the receipts. This odious insinuation I could not help picking up. I confess that I was violently indignant. Then the insinuations became more precise, and they reproached me with exhibiting myself for money. Is it not abominable? To accuse me so unjustly, me whose life you know, of living at the expense of the people!
“I had to explain that I was dependent upon my pen for my living, and that I was overwhelmed with debts; that I gained nothing by giving lectures and taking part in revolutionary propagandism. For the rest, it is not a trade that is practised for money. I added:
“‘When one no longer believes in the honesty of others, it is because he has none left himself.’
“The entrance fee was ten cents. A voice cried out to me:
“‘Then return us our money.’
“I replied that I had neither ten cents to take nor ten cents to return, that only my travelling expenses were paid, and that to come to Havre I had even had to buy a hat and cloak. Finally I announced that I should demand the publication in the newspapers of the receipts and expenses of the two meetings.
“At this point citizen Lucas demanded the floor. I had already noticed him at the afternoon meeting. He mounted the platform. He is a large man, over six feet tall, with enormous bands and a pale face. The secretary called my attention to his false and embarrassed air, and said to me:
“‘That big fellow has an ugly look.’
“‘What have I to do with that?’ I answered; ‘he has as good a right to speak as another.’
“True, he spoke only to announce that he would not speak. He confined himself to uttering a few incoherent phrases, saying that be had not killed or assassinated anybody and that no speech was to be expected from him; then, instead of returning into the crowd, he sat down on the platform — near me. I said to the secretary:
“‘If all our opponents were like him, they would not be very dangerous.’
“The hour was advancing. I wanted to get back to Paris that evening. So, having finished my speech, I adjourned the meeting.
“At the same moment a report rang out behind me, near my ear.
“‘Go on!’ I shouted; ‘furious at having failed to defeat us in argument, they fire blank cartridge at us, hoping to make us run like bare and thus become ridiculous. The joke is in very bad taste.
“Scarcely had I finished these words when a second report burst out, this time on the other side of my head. They asked me if I was hit. Having felt no pain, I answered no, but my neighbors declared that I was wounded. Indeed, a little stream of blood was trickling down my face. One ball bad struck my right ear, the other had entered below my left ear.
“Immediately my friends surrounded me and took me away, while the crowd rushed upon the murderer and put him in a most pitiful state. A sailor showered blows upon his face in spite of my supplications. In vain did I ask mercy for him. Finally the police intervened, tore him from the crowd, and with the greatest difficulty took him to the commissioner’s office, while my friends escorted me to the hotel under the hall.
“There I was examined for along time,— too long, in feet, for I missed my train. Why was I kept there? With good intentions, doubtless, but it was very exasperating. The next morning I took the six o’clock train, and here I am.”
“How do you feel now?”
“Why, very well, as you see. I shall escape with the loss of a little piece of my ear.”
“And what have you to say about the attack?”
“That I like people who fire at me better than those who insult me at a distance. At least they have the frankness of their opinion. This Lucas excites my pity. He is a victim, not a guilty man. A victim of his temperament, vitiated by drink, and also a victim of the wretches who have abused his simplicity to incite him against me. He is simply a madman. It seems that, when aiming at me, he made the sign of the cross, as if Anti-Christ were before him. I intend to return to Havre to testify in behalf of this irresponsible being. To think that his family is suffering on my account. I am fond of dumb animals; why should I not take pity on men? The information that I have received from our friends in Have is distressing. It appears that Lucas lived with his family in an attic, and that he earned barely enough to keep starvation from the door. That explains many things. I have written the following letter to Madame Lucas:
Learning of your sorrow, I should like to comfort you. Best easy; as it is inadmissible that your husband could have acted with discrimination, it is consequently impossible that he should not he restored to you.
Neither my friends, nor the doctors, nor the press of Paris, not forgetting that of Havre, will cease to call for his liberation.
And if there should be too muck delay about it, I should return to Havre, and this time my lecture would be wholly devoted to obtaining this act of justice.
The whole city would attend.
On Tuesday she wrote the following note to the editors of “L’Intransigeant”:
My dear friends:
I have not been to see you, because Dr. Labbé forbids me to go out, which is incomprehensible, since I am very well.
I rely on you in behalf of this poor woman in Havre. It is only justice: the unfortunate man has one eye almost torn out in consequence of his act of folly, while I still have two eyes; the rule of “an eye for an eye,” therefore, is already surpassed.
I embrace you heartily.
Pierre Lucas is thirty-two years old. He was formerly a clown in a circus, but more recently a private watchman. On his examination before the prosecuting attorney he said that, in killing the queen of the Anarchists, he hoped to suppress the party, which, having lost its leader, would disappear.
Its Nature, Object, and Destiny.
By P. J. Proudhon.
Translated from La Voix du Peuple of December 3, 1849, by Benj. R. Tucker.
II. Of the end or object of the State.
We have just seen that the idea of the State, considered in its nature, rests entirely on an hypothesis which is at least doubtful,— that of the impersonality and the physical, intellectual, and moral inertia of the masses. We shall now prove that this same idea of the State, considered in its object, rests on another hypothesis, still more improbable than the first,— that of the permanence of antagonism in humanity, an hypothesis which is itself a consequence of the primitive dogma of the fall or of original sin.
We continue to quote “Le Nouveau Monde:”
“What would happen,” asks Louis Blanc, “if we should leave the most intelligent or the strongest to place obstacles in the way of the development of the faculties of one who is less strong or less intelligent? Liberty would be destroyed.
“How prevent this crime? By interposing between oppressor and oppressed the whole power of the people.
“If James oppresses Peter, shall the thirty-four millions of men of whom French society is composed run all at once to protect Peter, to maintain liberty? To pretend such a thing would be buffoonery.
“How then shall society intervene?
“Through those whom it has chosen to Represent it for this purpose.
“But these Representatives of society, these servants of the people, who are they? The State.
“Then the State is only society itself, acting as society, to prevent — what? — oppression; to maintain — what? — liberty.”
That is clear. The State is a Representation of society, externally organized to protect the weak against the strong; in other words, to preserve peace between disputants and maintain order. Louis Blanc has not gone, far, as we see, to find the object of the State. It can be traced from Grotius, Justinian, Cicero, etc., in all the authors who ever have written on public right. It is the Orphic tradition related by Horace: —
Sylvestres homines sacer interpresque deorum.
Cædíbus et victu fœdo deterruit Orpheus,
Dictus ob hoc lenire tigres rabidosque leones,
Dictus et Amphion, Thebanæ conditor arcis,
Saxa movere sono testudinis, et prece blanda
Ducere quo vellet. . . .
“The divine Orpheus, the interpreter of the gods, called men from the depths of the forests and filled them with a horror of murder and of human flesh. Consequently it was said of him that he tamed lions and tigers, as later it was said of Amphion, founder of Thebes, that he moved the stones by the sound of his lyre, and led them whither he wished by the charm of his prayer.”
Socialism, we know, does not require with certain people great efforts of the imagination. They imitate, flatly enough, the old mythologies; they copy Catholicism, while declaiming against it; they ape power, which they lust after; then they shout with all their strength: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity; and the circle is complete. One passes for a revelator, a reformer, a democratic and social restorer, one is named as a candidate for the ministry of progress,— nay, even for the dictatorship of the Republic!
So, by the confession of Louis Blanc, power is born of barbarism; its organization bears witness to a state of ferocity and violence among primitive men,— an effect of the utter absence of commerce and industry. To this savagism the State had to put an end by opposing to the force of each individual a superior force capable, in the absence of any other argument, of restraining his will. The constitution of the State supposes, then, as we have just said, a profound social antagonism, homo homini lupus. Louis Blanc himself says this when, after having divided men into the strong and the weak, disputing with each other like wild beasts for their food, he interposes between them, as a mediator, the State.
Then the State would be useless; the State would lack an object as well as a motive; the State would have to take itself away,— if there should come a day when, from any cause whatever, society should contain neither strong nor weak,— that is, when the inequality of physical and intellectual powers could not be a cause of robbery and oppression, independently of the protection, more fictitious than real by the way, of the State.
Now, this is precisely the thesis that we maintain today.
The power that tempers morals, that gradually substitutes the rule of right for the rule of force, that establishes security, that creates step by step liberty and equality, is, in a much higher degree than religion and the State, labor; first, the labor of commerce and industry; next, science, which spiritualizes it; in the last analysis, art, its immortal flower. Religion by its promises and its threats, the State by its tribunals and its armies, gave to the sentiment of justice, which was too weak among primitive men, the only sanction intelligible to savage minds. For us, whom industry, science, literature, art, have corrupted, as Jean Jacques said, this sanction lies elsewhere; we find it in the division of property, in the machinery of industry, in the growth of luxury, in the overruling desire for well-being,— a desire which imposes upon all a necessity of labor. After the barbarism of the early ages, after the price of caste and the feudal constitution of primitive society, a last element of slavery still remained,— capital. Capital having lost its way, the laborer — that is, the merchant, the mechanic, the farmer, the savant, the artist — no longer needs protection; his protection is his talent, his knowledge is his industry. After the dethronement of capital, the continuance of the State, far from protecting liberty, can only compromise liberty.
He has a sorry idea of the human race — of its essence, its perfectibility, its destiny — who conceive it as an agglomeration of individuals necessarily exposed, by the inequality of physical and intellectual forces, to the constant danger of reciprocal spoliation or the tyranny of a few. Such an idea is a proof of the most retrogressive philosophy; it belongs to those days of barbarism when the absence of the true elements of social order left to the genius of the legislator no method of action save that of force; when the supremacy of a pacifying and avenging power appeared to all as the just consequence of a previous degradation and an original stain. To give our whole thought, we regard political and judicial institutions as the exoteric and concrete formula of the myth of the fall, the mystery of redemption, and the sacrament of penitence. It is curious to see pretended socialists, enemies or rivals of Church and State, copying all that they blaspheme,— the representative system in politics, the dogma of the fall in religion.
Since they talk so much of doctrine, we frankly declare that such is not ours.
In our view, the moral condition of society is modified and ameliorated at the same rate as its economic condition. The morality of a wild, ignorant, and idle people is one thing; that of an industrious and artistic people another: consequently, the social guarantees that prevail among the former are quite different from those that prevail among the latter. In a society transformed, almost unconsciously, by its economic development, there is no longer either strong or weak; there are only laborers whose faculties and means incessantly tend, through industrial solidarity and the guarantee of circulation, to become equalized. In vain, to assure the right and the duty of each, does the imagination go back to that idea of authority and government which attests the profound despair of souls long terrified by the police and the priesthood: the simplest examination of the attributes of the State suffices to demonstrate that, if inequality of fortunes, oppression, robbery, and misery are not our eternal inheritance, the first leprosy to be eradicated, after capitalistic exploitation, the first plague to be wiped out, is the State.
See, in fact, budget in hand, what the State is.
The State is the army. Reformer, do you need an army to defend you? If so, your idea of public security is Cæsar’s and Napoleon’s. You are not a republican; you are a despot.
The State is the police; city police, rural police, police of the waters and forests. Reformer, do you need police? Then your idea of order is Fouché’s, Gisquet’s, Carussidière’s, and M. Carlier’s. You are not a democrat, you are a spy.
The State is the whole judicial system; justices of the peace, tribunals of first instance, courts of appeal, court of cassation, high court, tribunals of experts, commercial tribunals, council of prefects, State council, councils of war. Reformer, do you need all this judiciary? Then your idea of justice is M. Baroche’s, M. Dupin’s, and Perrin Dandin’s. You are not a socialist; you are a red-tapist.
The State is the treasury, the budget. Reformer, you do not desire the abolition of taxation? Then your idea of public wealth is M. Thiers’s who thinks that the largest budgets are the best. You are not an organizer of labor; you are an exciseman.
The State is the custom-house. Reformer, do you need, for the protection of national labor, differential duties and toll-houses? Then your idea of commerce and circulation is M. Fould’s and M. Rothschild’s. You are not an apostle of fraternity; you are a Jew.
The State is the public debt, the mint, the sinking fund, the savings-banks, etc. Reformer, are these the foundation of your science? Then your idea of social economy is that of MM. Humann, Lacave-Laplagne, Garnier-Pagès, Passy, Duclerc, and the “Man with Forty Crowns.” You are a Turcaret.
The State — but we must stop. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the State , from the top of the hierarchy to its foot, which is not an abuse to be reformed, a parasite to be exterminated, an instrument of tyranny to be destroyed. And you talk to us of maintaining the State, of extending the functions or the State, of increasing the power of the State! Go to, you are not a revolutionist; for the true revolutionist is essentially a simplifier and a liberal. You are a mystifier, a juggler; you are a marplot.
III. Of an ulterior destiny of the State
There arises in favor of the State a last hypothesis. The fact that the State, say the pseudo-democrats, hitherto has performed only a rôle of parasitism and tyranny is no reason for denying it a nobler and more humane destiny. The State is destined to become the principal organ of production, consumption, and circulation; the initiator of liberty and equality.
For liberty and equality are the State.
Credit is the State.
Commerce, agriculture, and manufactures are the State.
Canals, railroads, mines, insurance companies, as well as tobacco-shops and post-offices, are the State.
Public education is the State.
The State, in fine, dropping its negative attributes to clothe itself with positive ones, must change from the oppressor, parasite, and conservative it ever has been into an organizer, producer, and servant. That would be feudalism regenerated, the hierarchy of industrial associations, organized and graded according to a potent formula the secret of which Pierre Leroux still hides from our sight.
Thus, the organizers of the State suppose — for in all this they only go from supposition to supposition — that the State can change its nature, turn itself around, so to speak; from Satan become an archangel; and, after having lived for centuries by blood and slaughter like a wild beast, feed upon plants with the deer, and give suck to the lambs. Such is the teaching of Louis Blanc and Pierre Leroux; such, as we said long ago, is the whole secret of socialism.
“We love the tutelary, generous, devoted government, taking as its motto those profound words of the gospel, ‘Whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be the servant of all;’ and we hate the deprived, corrupting, oppressive government, making the people its prey. We admire it representing the generous and living portion of humanity; we abhor it when it represents the cadaverous portion. We revolt against the insolence, usurpation, and robbery involved in the idea of the Master-State; and we applaud that which is touching, fruitful, and noble in the idea of the Servant-State. Or better: there is a belief which we hold a thousand times dearer than life,— our belief in the approaching and final Transformation of power. That is the triumphant passage from the old world to the new. All the government. of Europe rest today on the idea of the Master-State; but they are dancing desperately the dance of the dead.” — “Le Nouveau Monde,” November 16, 1849.
Pierre Leroux is a thorough believer in these ideas. What he wishes, what he teaches, and what he calls for is a regeneration of the State,— he has not told us yet whereby and by whom this regeneration should be effected,— just as he wishes and calls for a regeneration of Christianity without, as yet, having stated his dogma and given his credo.
We believe, in opposition to Pierre Leroux and Louis Blanc, that the theory of the tutelary, generous, devoted, productive, initiative, organizing, liberal and progressive State is a utopia, a pure illusion of their intellectual vision. Pierre Leroux and Louis Blanc seem to us like a man who, standing above a mirror and seeing his image reversed, should pretend that this image must become a reality some day and replace (pardon us the expression) his natural person.
This is what separates us from these two men, whose talents and services, whatever they may say, we have never dreamed of denying, but whose stubborn hallucination we deplore. We do not believe in the Servant-State: to us it is a flat contradiction.
Servant and master, when applied to the State, are synonymous terms; just as more and less, when applied to equality, are identical terms. The proprietor, by interest on capital, demands more than equality; communism, by the formula, to each according to his needs, allows less than equality: always inequality; and that is why we are neither a communist nor a proprietor. Likewise, whoever says master-State says usurpation of the public power; whoever says servant-State says delegation of the public power: always an alienation of this power, always a power, always an external, arbitrary authority instead of the immanent, inalienable, untransferable authority of citizens; always more or less than liberty. It is for this reason that we are opposed to the State.
Further, to leave metaphysics and return to the field of experience, here is what we have to say to Louis Blanc and Pierre Leroux.
You pretend and affirm that the State, that the government, can, and ought to be, wholly changed in its principle, in its essence, in its action, in its relations with citizens, as well as in its results that thus the State, a bankrupt and a counterfeiter, should be the sole source of credit; that for so many centuries an enemy of knowledge, and at the present moment still hostile to primary instruction and the liberty of the press, it is its business to officially provide for the instruction of citizens; that, after having left commerce, industry, agriculture, and all the machinery of wealth to develop themselves without its aid, often even in spite of its resistance, it belongs to it to take the initiative in the whole field of labor as in the world of ideas; that, in fine, the eternal enemy of liberty, it yet ought, not to leave liberty to itself, but to create and direct liberty. It is this marvelous transformation of the State that constitutes, in your opinion, the present Revolution.
There lies upon you, then, the twofold obligation: first, of establishing the truth of your hypothesis by showing its traditional legitimacy, exhibiting its historical titles, and developing its philosophy; in the second place, of applying it in practice.
Now, it appears already that both theory and practice, in your hypothesis, formally contradict the idea itself, and the facts of the past, and the most authentic tendencies of humanity.
Your theory, we say, involves a contradiction in its terms, since it pretends to make liberty a creation of the State, while the State, on the contrary, is to be a creation of liberty. In fact, if the State imposes itself upon my will, the State is master; I am not free; the theory is undermined.
It contradicts the facts of the past, since it is certain, as you yourselves admit, that everything that has been produced within the sphere of human activity of a positive, good, and beautiful character, was the product of liberty exclusively, acting independently of the State, and almost always in opposition to the State; which leads directly to this proposition, which ruins your system, that liberty is sufficient unto itself and does not need the State.
Finally, your theory contradicts the manifest tendencies of civilization; since, instead of continually adding to individual liberty and dignity by making every human soul, according to Kant’s precept, a pattern of entire humanity, one face of the collective soul, you subordinate the private person to the public person; you submit the individual to the group; you absorb the citizen in the State.
It is for you to remove all these contradictions by a principle superior to liberty and to the State. We, who simply deny the State; who, resolutely, following the line of liberty, remain faithful to the revolutionary practice,— it is not for us to demonstrate to you the falsity of your hypothesis; we await your proofs. The master-State is lost; you are with us in admitting it. As for the servant-State, we do not know what it may be; we distrust it as supreme hypocrisy. The servant-State seems to us quite the same thing as a servant-mistress; we do not wish it; with our present light, we prefer to espouse Liberty in legitimate marriage. Explain, then, if you can, why, after having demolished the State through love of this adored liberty, we must now, in consequence of the same love, return to the State. Until you have solved this problem, we shall continue to protest against all government, all authority, all power; we shall maintain, through all and against all, the prerogative of liberty. We shall say to you: Liberty is, for us, a thing gained; now, you know the rule of law: Melior est conditio possidentis. Produce your titles to the reorganization of government; otherwise, no government!
To sum up:
The State is the external constitution of the social power.
The constitution supposes, in principle, that society is a creature of the mind, destitute of spontaneity, providence, unity, needing for its action to be fictitiously represented by one or more elected or hereditary commissioners: an hypothesis the falsity of which the economic development of society and the organization of universal suffrage agree in demonstrating.
The constitution of the State supposes further, as to its object, that antagonism or a state of war is the essential and irrevocable condition of humanity, a condition which necessitates, between the weak and the strong, the intervention of a coercive power to put an end to their struggles by universal oppression We maintain that, in this respect, the mission of the State is ended; that, by the division of labor, industrial solidarity, the desire for well-being, and the equal distribution of capital and taxation, liberty and justice obtain surer guarantees than any that ever were afforded them by religion and the State.
As for utilitarian transformation of the State, we consider it as a utopia contradicted at once by governmental tradition, and the revolutionary tendency, and the spirit of the henceforth admitted economic reforms. In any case, we say that to liberty alone it would belong to reorganize power, which is equivalent at present to the complete exclusion of power.
As a result, either no social revolution, or no more government; such is our solution of the political problem
By Georges Sauton.
Translated from the French for Liberty by Sarah E. Holmes.
Continued from No. 117.
Yes, once more, anything rather than a prolongation of this trial, anything: from the Irish who, recognizing her, would kill her,— that is to say, finish her, for was she not already three-quarters dead? — to the soldiers who might treat her as the respected Duchess or as an infamous girl of the streets, it mattered little to her, provided this agony of the damned would cease! And, contenting herself no longer with passively watching the opportunity, she decided to run after it as fast as she could, continuing to loudly proclaim her torturing distress so that she might be heard from afar.
But now the reverse of what had happened the previous days occurred. Doubtless all the convoys of prisoners had marched on to their destination, and she met no one.
Tottering, bent, she went on mechanically, still growing constantly weaker, saying to herself that this could not last always, this solitude of the sad, dismal roads, stretching away to the horizon, where, with her fixed eyes, she sought simply a living soul to be moved by the sight of her.
“I am hungry! have pity on me! I am hungry!” she still cried, but now mezza voce, for herself, discouraged about making herself heard; moreover her quivering voice had become perceptibly hoarse on account of the redoubled cold, which was benumbing her brain.
She still walked on, always repeating her plaint, but more and more like an automaton, a mist before her eyes and with no consciousness of her comatose state, except at those times when the temperature drew groans from her.
The north wind bit her face under the stuffs which veiled it, bit the flesh all over her body under her thin dress, and crushed her fingers as with nippers.
Lady Ellen blew on her hands to drive away the numbness; she hastened her pace to warm herself; but at last, overcome, her impoverished blood congealing in her veins, she stopped again, suddenly, and, after reeling several times, fell at full length, with a sigh. The sigh of relief of a beast ceasing to run about, to support the burden of its empty skull.
This skull, which was ready to split at every sound of a step, at every jar of a pebble, reposed now on a knoll as on a kind pillow, and her spine, which fatigue seemed to have skinned, found rest on the bare ground as if it were a soft bed.
With the cold which increased with the wind coming suddenly full from the north, this surely was the denouement, and she faced the issue with comparative happiness.
She repeated again: “I am hungry!” and then closed her eyes to sleep; she trembled nevertheless at a sound of steps on the road, which her ear, close to the ground, perceived distinctly.
Someone was coming, and she braced herself in an effort to recover energy enough to await him. At first she experienced a very keen satisfaction.
Someone approaching on the road; this was what she had vainly hoped for during so many eternal hours, and she indulged herself in a feeling of entire confidence in her rescue.
Perhaps the stranger was not as cruel by nature or as barbarous in morals as those she had met already, and she took pleasure in imagining him humane, compassionate. Who knew if he was not going over the road by which the columns of prisoners had passed to relieve the wounded and dying abandoned by the way?
It might be a son of the “Poor Old Woman,” seeking those of his brothers who had fallen under the weight of bad treatment, enfeebled by privations. O well! he would not distinguish her from an Irish woman and would help her.
Even if he should not recognize her as a compatriot; if he should discern in her an English woman and in the English woman the abhorred Duchess of Newington,— he would assist her, if only out of charity; and, being afraid that the man would go away without seeing her, turning into some cross path, she half lifted herself and tried to make a sign with her arms; but finding it impossible to raise them or even to hold herself in a sitting position, she suddenly fell back again, dragged down by the inconceivable weight of her head, overcome by dizziness, as if on the edge of a precipice; as to the traveller, she had perceived only a confused profile through the thick fog before her eyes, just as she heard no longer the sound of his steps but as a confused noise of far-off bells.
Then the steps, suddenly, in proportion as they approached, had the resonance of cannon, in cousequence of which, at each second, it seemed to the poor woman that her skull would split, each successive pain drawing from her wails like those of a dying child.
Suddenly the shocks ceased.
The traveller had stopped, and, considering with curiosity the unfortunate woman, he hesitated whether to prolong his involuntary, instinctive halt, or go on.
The cold was very biting; and although corpulent, wrapped in furs like a bear, wearing boots trimmed with furry skins, his face protected by a cap pulled down to his mouth, the man nevertheless dreaded a pause in which the good heat stored up in his flesh would evaporate and hesitated about suffering pain for the satisfaction, not of a feeling of pity,— it was not there that the shoe pinched him,— but of a desire for information which he might, perhaps, be unable to gather.
In any case, it was important to decide promptly, and touching Lady Ellen rudely with his foot, he addressed her:
“Hey! woman, are you asleep? Are you dead, or dying?”
She did not move, she had not felt the pressure of the boot, brutal as it was, and he renewed his interrogation in a still more surly fashion, raising his voice and giving the poor woman a kick with his boot-heel filled with nails, at the same time that with his stick he dealt her hand blow after blow, breaking the skin and bruising the flesh.
A groan escaped from Lady Ellen’s throat, almost a rattle; and the tormentor, finding that the woman still lived, became milder.
That she might get into a condition to speak, he brought up from the depths of his pocket a flask, from which he hastily unscrewed the stopper, and after himself swallowing a tumblerful of the liquor, an excellent gin, which he relished, smacking his tongue on his palate, he forced open the teeth of the dying woman and poured down her throat a copious draught.
“Good!” said he, “that warms and nourishes.”
And as the effect of the cordial did not at once appear, he doubled the potion; revived at last, Lady Ellen half opened her eyes, and, with a nervous shiver, half returned to herself, but pushed away the bottle, which he held again at her lips.
“No! no!” she cried, experiencing the sensation of an inward burning which was eating-into her stomach.
Her abrupt gesture spilled a good glass of gin and the man, furious, swore as if he were possessed, all the while gulping down a second and third bumper, which brightened up his dim eyes.
“The devil! you are not, then, a true Irishwoman!”
But, rousing all the same, in spite of the fire in her stomach, and seating herself on the edge of the slope, she reached out her hand to drink again.
“Good!” said the stranger; and immediately, while Ellen swallowed with less and less repugnance and finally with pleasure this fire which, insinuating itself into her veins, cleared her brain and unfastened her limbs from the ground, he questioned her.
“Where is Harvey?” he asked; “Harvey, the agitator, your general? I have important orders for him.”
But Ellen, not responding, still drinking, he took away the flask:
“No, not now; not a drop more till I am enlightened.”
Imagining that the silence of the woman proceeded from a fear of betraying the leader of the insurrection, he continued:
“I am English, it is true, and I should have difficulty in concealing it; but the Irish do not count me among their enemies; I am called Tom Lichfield, and, delegated by twenty philanthropic societies, I have employed myself throughout the campaign in lessening the rigor of repression. If I inquire about Sir Bagnel Harvey, it is for humanity’s sake, on account of an imminent peril which he can avoid if I succeed in meeting him.”
“Tom Lichfield,” murmured Lady Ellen; and she did not repress a movement of repugnance, refusing the flask which he held within reach, summoning her to tell what she knew.
At this name of Tom Lichfield an intense fear seized her; from a traitor like him one might apprehend everything, and she fixed more firmly over her face the veils in which she was carefully wrapped.
This movement did not escape the Englishman, and, already perplexed by the inefficacy of the temptation of his gin, he wished to discover the reason of this sudden repulse, and rapidly removed the stuffs which concealed the face of the Duchess.
She stood upright to evade the liberty which he took, but the earth appeared to give way under her feet, and, in order not to fall, she leaned on his arm, begging him not to let go of her.
“Ah! Indeed!” said Lichfield, “but I am not mistaken; it is Lady Ellen’s voice.”
The veils at this moment became disarranged in the young woman’s effort to cling to him.
“Yes, it is she,” he repeated.
“Sustain me; everything is turning round. An enormous gulf is opening before me; I am going to be plunged into it.”
“O well! so much the worse!” said the traitor; “all this time my Harvey is doubtless making good time; we are not in a parlor where I am obliged to be gallant.”
And, disengaging himself from Lady Newington’s grasp, he started off at a slow run.
He must make up the time lost after this fool of a woman whom he consigned to the devil, and who, in the meantime, had better have remained in the flames of the castle rather than to drink and spill his gin, and delay him to no purpose.
Behind him, he heard her roll on the ground with tumultuous cries, but this did not at all move him, especially as he was beginning to complain and suffer on his own account from his unusual exercise.
Nevertheless, he did not dare slacken his pace too quickly for fear of cooling off and inducing an inflammation of the lungs, thus leaving others to capture the famous rebel, reaping the benefits without having had the fatigues, the anxiety, the disappointments, and at a time, too, when there was really nothing more to do but extend the hand, so to speak, and close it over the collar of the cursed Harvey.
After the battle the general had thrown himself into the sea to escape his pursuers; and Lichfield had followed him into the waves, without reaching him, alas! barely escaping twenty times a final submersion, recommending his soul to God, but supported by the waves and saved by his natural buoyancy.
Since then he had been at his heels in almost every skirmish, fighting, himself, at his post, perching, by manoeuvres of eminent strategy, on some point whence he could command a view of the two armies.
At night he had approached the place where the general was resting, hoping to get close to his prey, cut off his head, and fly triumphantly with it to the keeper of the Treasury, who would count out to him the promised bounty, and he cursed his sex which did not permit him the exploits of Judith and Jael.
Defeated, trying to rally the remnant of his followers, to raise new recruits, Bagnel Harvey was none the less hunted by Lichfield, who, only a few hours before, had suddenly lost sight of him at the crossing of a road concealed by a thick wood.
Doubtless the Irishman had turned to the right, Lichfield to the left; it was for this reason that the Englishman had wished to inquire of the Duchess. Suddenly, as he left her, he believed that he saw his man on an elevation, and he started to run.
Unable to do so any longer, out of breath, he had to diminish his speed and return to his normal step, fortifying himself with great draughts of gin from his flask, which he emptied to the last drop, following it with another full one, the aroma of which he sniffed with delight; but he was enraged at his snail’s pace, while the game was rapidly running away from him.
The road, now going through a hilly country, offered Lichfield only a very limited horizon, and the odious traitor could not see whether Harvey pursued his course along the beaten path, or cut across for fear of meeting someone.
On an eminence, however, he drowned in big gulps of gin the shout of joy ready to leap from his throat; the agitator was hurrying along below, only a few miles ahead, and as the road which he would follow was both winding and excessively hilly, the Englishman now felt sure, by going through the moors, of catching his man.
This would be hardly the affair of an hour; hardly, for the joy of attaining his end refreshed him suddenly.
“Hurrah!” cried he, caressing in his belt, under his great coat, the two pistols which he carried; and he plunged into the heath, which was too thin, however, to obstruct his progress.
The ground rose at a gentle incline, and Lichfield, aided by the north wind which pushed him along, went on without fatigue, like a great ship going before the wind, which glides tranquilly on the waves; and he was dreaming in his joy that at last, the campaign ended, with a distended purse, returning to Glasgow, he would there enjoy his well-earned repose, surrounded by general consideration, when suddenly dull subterranean noises, like a clamor of thousands of voices, drew him from his reverie, communicating to his adipose being a shudder which, by reason of the persistence of the unusual noise, penetrated to the marrow of his bones.
Frightened, he stopped short to discover the cause, imagining himself the victim of an illusion.
But no: the confused murmur, like a rumbling of thunder or of the rising sea, confirmed his impression, as if some formidable tempest was growling in the bowels of the earth, and distant detonations added their special noise to the general uproar.
What was going on down there? What tempest was gathering which would probably break at last? And of what elements was this conflagration composed, menacing in itself, and still more on account of the unknown region in the midst of which it was manifested?
Too far from the shore, terrible, imposing, it was not the sea engulfed in excavations which was roaring and beating the walls of its prison; perhaps it came from a crowd of men escaped from the carnage of the previous week, preparing a revenge; or perhaps it was an avenging cataclysm, and the country, filled with mines which were commencing to explode, was on the point of being hurled into the air, like the presbytery of Sir Richmond, burying conquerors and conquered in a gigantic common tomb?
Tom Lichfield did not arrive at a decision; and the more he struggled to comprehend, the less he succeeded, his faculties becoming paralyzed in the fear which pursued him.
He hastened his steps to elude the danger; but the farther he advanced, the more the alarming symptoms were emphasized. Surely a profound overturning was agitating the internal mass of this region; a revolution was preparing; and, whatever it might be, it frightened Lichfield, who resumed his interrupted course, doubling his speed at first, and then running as when leaving Lady Ellen.
And now a new cause of terror was added to the preceding ones. It seemed to this big Englishman, at first, that he was walking on a floor suspended in the air, and which bent under his enormous weight and the shaking rapidity of his giant’s tread.
Then, the solid and firm floor became loosened, and puddles of oozing, warm mud moistened Lichfield’s feet.
Surely the noise came from sheets of stagnant water at a greater or less depth, and there was no cause to be filled with alarm.
Reassured, Lichfield turned in a direction where the earth was dry and firm, and if, beneath, the enraged tempest continued its uproar, at least he no longer risked drowning, and he tranquilly scrutinized the neighborhood in search of his Bagnel Harvey, whom, for an instant, he had completely forgotten!
And he rejoiced at seeing him at a distance of, perhaps, a mile only, seated on a fragment of rock, in a discouraged repose, and easy to overtake.
Suddenly an immense cracking noise was heard under his feet, and, like breaking ice, the crust of the soil, having become thinner, split in all directions.
Lichfield uttered an oath which resounded through the whole valley, reinforced by a hundred echoes, and which disturbed Harvey in his meditation; and with a prodigious effort, leaping like a clown in a circus, he lifted his enormous mass and transported it to a piece of solid earth which resisted his weight.
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 first volume of Proudhon’s “System of Economical Contradictions,” constituting the fourth volume in the series of his works (the second and third being not yet published in English) and the first book published in the Proudhon Library, will be ready for delivery before the end of the present month. It will be a fine volume of 469 pages, uniform with “What is Property?” and will be sold at $3.50 in cloth and $6.50 in full calf. Subscribers to the Library get it at $2.25 in cloth,— a saving which, it is hoped, will induce many to subscribe for the Library in order to get the benefit of the reduction on the second and subsequent volumes. The first part of the second volume will appear in April, and the other parts at quarterly intervals until further notice. I am also able to announce Stephen Pearl Andrews’s “Science of Society” (recently published serially in Liberty) as almost immediately forthcoming in book form. It will contain 165 large pages, and will be sold, bound in cloth, at one dollar. Sarah E. Holmes will publish it, and orders may be sent to her address,— Box 3360, Boston, Mass. These two works will constitute that most notable reinforcements which Liberty’s propaganda has received in a long time.
Liberty’s New Serials.
The conclusion in this issue of Proudhon’s chapter on the nature, object, and destiny of the State, and the approaching conclusion of “Ireland,” permit two announcements which will be a surprise and a joy to the readers of Liberty.
In the next number will be begun the serial publication of
Love, Marriage, and Divorce,
the famous tripartite discussion carried on more than thirty years ago in the columns of the New York “Tribune” between
Henry James, Horace Greeley, and Stephen Pearl Andrews.
This discussion had its origin in a criticism made by the New York “Observer,” upon Henry James’s doctrine of free divorce, which Mr. James, after some discussion in the “Observer,” answered in the “Tribune.” Thereby Mr. Andrews and Mr. Greeley were induced to enter the debate, the former opposing Mr. James from the standpoint of free love and the latter opposing him from the standpoint of legal and absolute marriage. From all the names illustrious in American literature it would be difficult to select a trio of more brilliant, vigorous, and powerful writers, and it is needless to say that the discussion bore fruit in nearly all the strongest things that can be said in support of the three typical positions which they respectively represented. It went on until Mr. Greeley, driven into a corner from which he could not otherwise escape, excluded Mr. Andrews from his columns, whereupon Mr. Andrews published the entire series of articles in a pamphlet with a masterly introductory summary, not only of the debate itself, but of the merits and shortcomings of his antagonists. This pamphlet was very widely circulated at the time, but has long been out of print, and it is almost impossible to procure a copy. About twenty years after the original discussion Mr. James and Mr. Andrews renewed it in “Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly,” and Liberty’s reprint will include these additional articles. This discussion is all the more appropriate to Liberty’s columns because, as was sure to be the case with such disputants, it led from the marriage question to a fundamental examination of the individual, society, the State, and their rights and relations, and is consequently an admirable text-book of political and social philosophy. Unknown to the present generation, it will be born again through Liberty’s revival, and this time, I hope, to the immortality which it so richly deserves.
But this is not all.
In the issue after the next — that is, in No. 120 — will appear the first instalment of a new serial Socialistic romance, translated from the French by the editor of Liberty, and entitled:
The Rag-picker of Paris,
which, within the last year, has been written as a novel by the gifted author of the drama bearing the same title, this author being no other than the well-known revolutionary Socialist, unexcelled in dramatic power by any revolutionary writer,
a short sketch of whose life will appear in the next issue.
“The Rag picker of Paris,” when first produced on the Parisian stage many years ago with the great actor, Frederick Lemaitre, in the principal róle, Father Jean, achieved a success as a play paralleled in that city only by the success which Eugéne Sue’s “Mysteries of Paris” achieved as a novel. The chorus of praise with which it was hailed was led by all the literary celebrities of the time. A few of these tributes appear below:
Heinrich Heine — The passion of Shakspere and the reason of Moliere.
Victor Hugo. — A fortunate drama, come late enough to represent the whole people.
Alexander Dumas (to the author). — You have killed Frederick Lemaitre for us. After his Father Jean in the “Rag-Picker of Paris” he can create no other role.
Béranger. — The drama which best vibrates the heart’s highest chord,— devotion.
Ledru-Rollin. — The greatest drama of the epoch.
Proudhon. — The work of a master.
Theophile Gautier. — The work of a Titan.
Michelet. — My compliments upon this immensely sympathetic drama.
Sainte-Beuve. — The paragon of the democratic-republican school.
Raspail. — An immense new creation.
Arsine Houssaye. — The intensity of Rembrandt.
Victor Considérant. — A generous work, lofty in its morality.
Victoria, Queen of England (to the actor Lemaitre, after seeing him play in the piece). — Is there, then, such misery in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine?
Frederick Lemaitre (in reply). — It is the Ireland of Paris.
Bocage, the actor (to the author). — I shall never forgive you for not having given me the role of Jean.
Louis Blanc. — At last we have the Socialistic drama.
To such testimonials as these, anything that I could add, beyond the statement that the novel is quite as good as the play from which it has been constructed, would be but surplusage. I can only congratulate my readers on the treat that is in store for them.
The two serials above announced will appear, not only in the English Liberty, but in the German Liberty as well, and those who intend to subscribe to either should not fail to begin with the issues containing the first instalments of them.
All papers friendly to Liberty will confer a favor by noticing these announcements.
Anarchy in German.
Early in the spring, probably in March, there will be issued from this office the first number of a fortnightly Anarchistic journal, to be called Liberty, but to be printed ‘entirely in the German language. Though the new paper will be under the same general management that controls the English Liberty, its active editors will be George Schumm and Emma Schumm, who are coming to Boston from Minnesota to undertake the work. The paper will be of the same shape and size as the English Liberty, and the two will alternate in the order of publication. — the English appearing one week and the German the next. The subscription price will be one dollar a year. Send in your subscriptions at once to Benj. R. Tucker, P. O. Box 3366, Boston, Mass.
Who Offends the Inoffensive?
That bright and refreshing paper, London “Jus,” seems endowed in an extraordinary degree with the faculty of detecting a mote in others’ eyes while enjoying the most blissful unconsciousness of the beam in its own.
Quoting from one of my articles the sentence, “any method is justifiable in our war with the aggressive State,” it puts in a demurrer against my claim, and gravely warns me that it finds itself unable to coincide with this sort of teaching. It asks me if I would burn a hotel in which my enemy found a retreat, and if I would deem it fair to terrorize innocent people provided such a method should indirectly inflict injury upon an aggressor. Now, while it is true that, from a rigorously formal point of view, my language is open to such an interpretation, nevertheless I am constrained to accuse “Jus” of unfair dealing. The spirit, if not the letter, of the statement,— and especially when judged in the light of the tone and essential purport of the entire article,— leaves no doubt as to the fact that I intended the assertion to apply only to methods exclusively and rigidly directed against either the person or the possessions of the aggressor. The qualification was too obvious to make its expression necessary. But if “Jus” really misunderstood me, let me hasten to allay its excitement and assure it that I am not “religious” enough to defend, either on the score of principle or as a matter of practical policy, the holding of inoffensive people accountable for the guilt of their kindred. And even with regard to the State, although all its supporters and defenders and apologists can justly be held responsible as partners and accomplices in the conspiracy against dissenters, and consequently “any methods against them would be justifiable” from the standpoint of pure principle, policy, which is frequently the safest of principles, counsels moderation and mild measures, while natural inclinations and the knowledge that their ignorance, rather than their depravity, is the cause of their mischievous conduct, prompt feelings of pity and sympathy with them.
“Conscience makes cowards of us all,” saith Shakspere (or Bacon), and this observation is generally considered true. Which fact makes me fear that dear “Jus” is not blessed with a “conscience”: else, it would not dare to raise the very delicate question of invading the rights of unobtrusive parties. “Jus” sides with “law and order,” identities itself with the State, whose claims and subterfuges, reduced to plainness, simply mean the indiscriminate right of one set of people to “terrorize” and impose upon other sets of people, without any reference to principles of equity or equal liberty. Its stern reproach and its laudable anxiety about the rights of peaceful individuals, when brought into contrast with its support of a perpetual regime of violence and fraud and hypocritical pretence, assume a very ludicrous aspect. Reform should begin at home. Of the State it may be truly said that those who are not openly and unqualifiedly against it are for it, with it, and in it. Such must turn over a new leaf and burn their ships behind them before they can acquire a right to censure other sinners.
Still another criticism “Jus” has to make. In the same article I avowed a preference for the force of dynamite over that of the ballot-box. “Jus” admits that the “breaking of heads is the final test of right,” but in the ballot-box far above dynamite on account of its furnishing a means of counting heads and thus enabling us to settle disputes without recourse to actual fighting. In cases where the issue depends on the number of heals and is predetermined in favor of the majority, it is no doubt wise and desirable to avoid violence by ascertaining and submitting to the inevitable. But “Jus” knows very well that minorities are not necessarily doomed to defeat in their struggle with majorities under the present conditions and means of warfare. Even individuals can, single-handed, withstand majorities and defy them. The counting of heads can no longer be regarded as a sure way of determining the probable outcome. Unless the majority, duly and prudently appreciating this important change with all its bearings, agrees to accept certain principles sad to respect the rights of minorities, cases may arise in which object lessons as to the power and influence of minorities in modern times shall be found necessary. There is no difference in principle between us. Every man must decide for himself whether, on the whole, it is better for him to make common cause with the State or treat it as an invader and a foe. And, if he decides on war, it is further for him to intelligently choose the most certain and effective weapons. The ballot, however, is being more and more discredited by the rebellious elements and will be entirely cast aside as soon as the victims of Church and State learn more thoroughly to “know themselves” and more correctly to estimate their power.
A Plea for Non-Resistance.
To the Editor of Liberty:
I must take exception to the teaching that the infliction of injury upon aggressors is compatible with the principle of equal liberty to all.
First, with an argument which is no argument, yet which has its force to those who have observed the growth of new ideas in their own minds: how there comes first a revulsion against what is, then strong sentiment in favor of the opposite, and last only, and often not then until long after, perhaps never, comes the possibility of rational justification of the sentiment.
Now, it is a matter of observation that liberty interpreted to include non-resistance meets with quick welcome in many minds that are looking for better things, while liberty interpreted to mean our own liberty to compel others is to the same minds an unintelligible formula.
And the reason of it would seem to be this,— that while the right to defence, and, if you will, to offence too, is equal to the power and the desire to defend or to offend, it has no more to do with the actions proper to man in a social state than the right of cannibalism, which undoubtedly also exists, when, having no other food, a man must feed on his companion or die himself. Saving that in this case, with the exercise of this right to eat him, a social condition with him no longer exists; it is a revulsion to a state of warfare.
Who is to judge of where the right to equal liberty is infringed? If each one is judge, why may not the pickpocket say, You have [no] right to imprison me for picking your pocket, I claim that as my natural liberty and I willingly grant you the liberty of picking mine in return — if you can. The right to pick pockets is co-extensive with the power to pick pockets, and you are committing an aggression in imprisoning me, rather than I in picking your pocket.
There is a difference between resistance and retaliation, and between resistance and anticipatory violence. Resistance may consist in barring a door, or raising a wall against an armed attack, or on behalf of others we may resist by interposing our own person to receive the attack.
But when the attack is done and past, when the violence is over, when the murder perhaps is committed, by what right of resistance do we resume to retaliate in cold blood?
Do we assume that a man who has killed once will kill again? Such an assumption is wholly unjustifiable.
Or, if it be admitted that such an one is more likely to kill a second time, do we kill him on a possibility that lies wholly in the future?
Shall we say that he places himself outside of society, declares war upon it, and society in return makes warfare upon him and exterminates him? Who then is to judge of all the rest of us whether we are sufficiently socialized to be permitted to exist? If each is to retaliate where he conceives himself attacked, we remain in our present state of warfare.
Furthermore, if I see one coming in a threatening attitude, with drawn revolver, shall I shoot first and kill him if I can?
Doubtless I may, and take the chances of his killing me: but in doing so, I cease to admit that he is an associate; I join battle with him; I accept the fortune of war.
Briefly, the argument may be expressed thus: In a social state no individual can be regarded as outside the pale of society for any cause. Society must embrace all.
He that takes pleasure in aggression is either undeveloped or a reversion to a former type, or his apparent aggression is really an attempt to resist what he conceives to be an injury to himself.
In any of these cases counter-violence is wrong,— namely, it does not accomplish its purpose.
If the aggressor thinks he is injured, the reasonable course is to explain and apologize, even though no injury was meant.
If the aggression be prompted by the mere pleasure of aggression, the delight in violence of a past type, the reasonable course is to regard the aggressor as a diseased man, on a par with a lunatic, or delirium tremens patient. Confine him, but as medical treatment. Bind him, with no personal hatred of him in the ascendant. And, in confinement, so far from torturing him, treat him as are treated, or ought to be treated, all sick and infirm, with the best food, with the best lodging, with kindness, with care, with love.
This, I say, is rational treatment.
It seems to me that this theory you advocate can produce nothing but what we see now.
The people at large, for that purpose, if for no other, a voluntary association, hanged the Chicago men. The people believed with undoubted sincerity that they were in danger from violence on the part of the victims. They investigated the justice of their belief by means which they thought adequate. They resisted by retaliatory violence.
How can you by your principles blame them?
It seems to me, too, that the simple proposition is that to compel by violence is to govern, and that Anarchists, who protest against government, should begin by saying: We will govern nobody. We will do no violence.
If you care to print this, I ask one thing: Make no verbal criticisms. I am not a Christian, nor a teleologist, nor a moralist, and any slips of language must not be construed to mean that I am. Another thing I ask, subject to your approval. Do not refute me in the same issue. Perhaps I am wrong. If so, I wish to change my opinion. You, I assume, are as ready to change yours.
But it will take a little time for either of us.
John Beverley Robinson.
If I could see that my silence for a fortnight could help either Mr. Robinson or myself to a change of opinion, I would certainly grant his last request. But it seems to me that, if either of us is open to conviction, such would be the very course to delay the change. I change my opinion when an argument is opposed to it which I perceive to be valid and controlling. If it does not seem to me valid at first, it rarely seems otherwise after mere waiting. But if I try to answer it, I either destroy it because of its weakness, or cause its strength to be made more palpable by provoking its restatement in another and clearer form. I should think the same must hold in Mr. Robinson’s case, if he is writing his mature thought; if he is not, I should advise him to let it mature first and print it afterwards. There is, no doubt, something to be said in favor of allowing intervals between statements of opposing views, but solely from the reader’s standpoint, not from that of the disputants. Such a plan encourages thought and compels the reader to frame some sort of answer for himself pending the rejoinder of the other side. But in the conduct of a journal this consideration, important as it is, is not the only one to be thought of. There are others, and they all tell in favor of the method of immediate reply. First, there is the consideration of space, one third of which can generally be saved by avoiding the necessity of restating the opponent’s position. Second, there is the consideration of interest, which wanes when a discussion is prolonged by frequent delays. Third, there is the consideration arising out of the fact that every issue of a paper is seen by hundreds of people who never see another. It is better that such should read both sides than but one.
Mr. Robinson’s other request — that I make no verbal criticism — is also hard to comply with. How am I to avoid a verbal criticism when he makes against Anarchism a charge of inconsistency which can only be sustained by a definition of government which Anarchists reject? He says that the essence of government is compulsion by violence. If it is, then of course, Anarchists, always opposing government, must always oppose violence. But Anarchists do not so define government. To them the essence of government is invasion. From the standpoint of this definition, why should Anarchists, protesting against invasion and determined not to be invaded, not use violence against it, provided at any time violence shall seem the most effective method of putting a stop to it?
But it is not the most effective method, insists Mr. Robinson in another part of his article; it does not accomplish its purpose. Ah! here we are on quite another ground. The claim no longer is that it is necessarily un-Anarchistic to use violence, but that other influences than violence are more potent to overcome invasion. Exactly; that is the gospel which Liberty has always preached. I have never said anything to the contrary, and Mr. Robinson’s criticism, so far as it lies in this direction, seems to me mal à propos. His article is prompted by my answers to Mr. Blodgett in No. 115. Mr. Blodgett’s questions were not as to what Anarchists would find it best to do, but as to what their Anarchistic doctrine logically binds them to do and avoid doing. I confined my attention strictly to the matter in hand, omitting extraneous matters. Mr. Robinson is not justified in drawing inferences from my omissions, especially inferences that are antagonistic to my definite assertions at other times.
Perhaps he will answer me, however, that there are certain circumstances under which I think violence advisable. Granted; but, according to his article, so does he. These circumstances, however, he distinguishes from the social state as a state of warfare. But so do I. The question comes upon what you are to do when a man makes war upon you. Ward him off, says Mr. Robinson, but do not attack him in turn to prevent a repetition of his attack. As a general policy, I agree; as a rule without exceptions, I dissent. Suppose a man tries to knock me down. I will parry his blows for a while, meanwhile trying to dissuade him from his purpose. But suppose he does not desist, and I have to take a train to reach the bedside of my dying child. I straightway knock him down and take the train. And if afterwards he repeats his attack again and again, and thereby continually takes my time away from the business of my life, I put him out of my way, in the most decent manner possible, but summarily and forever. In other words, it is folly for people who desire to live in society to put up with the invasions of the incorrigible. Which does not alter the fact that with the corrigible it is not only good policy, but in accordance with the sentiments of highly-developed human beings, to be as gentle and kind as possible.
To describe such dealing with the incorrigible as the exercise of our liberty to compel others denotes an utter misconception. It is simply the exercise of our liberty to keep others from compelling us.
But who is to judge where invasion begins? asks Mr. Robinson. Each for himself, and those to combine who agree, I answer. It will be perpetual war, then? Not at all; a war of short duration, at the worst. I am well aware that there is a border-land between legitimate and invasive conduct over which there must be for a time more or less trouble. But it is an ever-decreasing margin. It has been narrowing ever since the idea of equal liberty first dawned upon the mind of man, and in proportion as this idea becomes clearer and the new social conditions which it involves become real will it contract towards the geometrical conception of a line. And then the world will be at peace. Meanwhile, if the pick-pocket continues his objectionable business, it will not be because of any such reasoning as Mr. Robinson puts into his mouth. He may so reason, but as a matter of fact he never does. Or, if he does, he is an exceptional pick-pocket. The normal pick-pocket has no idea of equal liberty. Whenever the idea dawns upon him, he will begin to feel a desire for its realization and to acquire a knowledge of what equal liberty is. Then he will see that it is exclusive of pick-pocketing. And so with the people who hanged the Chicago martyrs. I have never blamed them in the usual sense of the word blame. I charge them with committing a gross outrage upon the principle of equal liberty, but not with knowing what they did. When they become Anarchists, they will realize what they did, and will do so no more. To this end my comrades and I are trying to enlighten them concerning the principle of equal liberty. But we shall fail if we obscure the principle by denying or concealing the lengths to which, in case of need, it allows us to go lest people of tender sensibilities may infer that we are in favor of always going to such lengths, regardless of circumstances.
There are newspaper writers in the southern portion of the republic who are clamorous for “free banking.” By that expression they mean the free issue of notes for circulation by banks on their general credit. Excepting in the matter of note issues, banking is now as free as any one could desire. Even in that respect it is free to any five persons who have a moderate amount of capital and are disposed to offer the required security.
If there is anything in human affairs that has been fully demonstrated by experience, it is that the sort of free banking that these southern writers advocate is unsafe and fraught with intolerable evils. The thing was tried in this country for a long time, and it took a great while to got rid of it even after it was almost universally admitted to be utterly mischievous. The last substitute for it before the national banking system was created was the issue of circulation under State authority on the security of State bonds, and it was that plan, national bonds being substituted for State, that was copied into the national system, The general adoption of that plan by the States was a distinct recognition of the unwisdom of permitting the unrestricted issue of circulating notes by banks and their general credit.
The issue of circulation is not a necessary part of banking. The existence and prosperity of a great number of banks without circulation are proof enough of that. There is much reason to doubt whether there is any good at all in bank note issues. The national bank notes are disappearing pretty rapidly, and they do not seem to be greatly missed. Our greenbacks, coin, and coin certificates seem to meet all the requirements of a circulating medium pretty completely, and there are no indications that the country would suffer greatly if the entire bank-note currency should eventually disappear.
But be that as it may, it is to he hoped that the American people will never again commit the folly, and worse than folly, of tolerating the sort of free banking that southern writers advocate. Freedom is an excellent thing in its way, but freedom to emit paper substitutes for money is not the kind for which this country, or any other, has any use.
A Particular Demand in Free Commerce.
A year or more ago the Chicago “Times” gave expression to several criticisms upon the proposal for free banking. Its comments, proceeding from a cultured and candid mind, would scarcely have taken the turn they did had not the “Times” been led by preconception to imagine that the old authoritarian system of alleged specie-basis banking was intended. That was not free banking, The “Times” asked for information, and the “News” endeavored to indicate the difference in principle between the methods. Since then the “News” has not observed any reference to the subject in the “Times” until the other day, when the “Times” again noticed the subject in an article, reprinted in another column. The “Times” therein says that note issuing is now free to any five persons who have a moderate amount of capital and are disposed to offer the required security. Which is to say that it is not free. The security required is a deposit of government bonds. These evidences of debt are certainly good enough security. Their employment as a basis for currency shows what can be done without the deposit of specie. The admission of one sort of property to monetization emphasizes the deprivation of that use from the rest. The “Times” is flatly in error in saying that free banking has been tried and condemned by experience in this country. The spurious banks to which it alludes were fruits of an arbitrary legislative dictation as to a specie deposit security which was as impossible as unnecessary. It would be no more illogical to say now that freedom of contract in insurance business is discredited by the failure of companies which have received the permission of the State to do business, than to assert that free banking is discredited by experience under a system wherein the frauds were chiefly perpetrated either to pretend compliance with arbitrary and impracticable guarantees, or else perpetrated by the very means of the worse than worthless charters serving to dupe depositors and noteholders. The “Times” is too good an economist and too sound a logician to assert that the fact of a plan having been adopted by the States, under the belief that free banking was unsafe, was proof of the wisdom of the opinion. The fiscal system of the United States at present is not proof that free trade is dangerous, but only that people have thought it less advantageous than restricted trade. The States did not learn by experience of free banking, but started with a prejudice against it, and that prejudice has been strengthened by reference to disasters which overtook experiments in unfree banking. The view that greenbacks, coin, and coin certificates meet all requirements will be congenial simply to those who have not grasped the idea that currency is a tool of exchange, and that its scarcity value bears as a tax on every transaction,— would the scarcity of any other useful implement,— besides being the cause of much abstention from exchange of commodities where barter is too inconvenient. All the newspapers show that property is daily offered in trade. The advertisers know that the original necessity for barter still exists. There is a medium of exchange to some extent, consisting of bits of divisible metallic property and its representatives, and of bills representing bonds. But the bonds being thus monetized simply serve to admit their owners to a share in the astounding monopoly of money. It is not so much a hardship that large capital is required for banks. If the law would allow note issuing upon the mutual bank plan, it would be easy to bottom one hundred thousand dollars upon two or three times as much property, whereas the national bankers are agitating for more than nine-tenths currency on their security. The principle of free banking is the principle of free commerce. Whether it is safe or not involves the question whether paternalism or free contract is the correct principle in public affairs. The advocates of free banking desire liberty to organize and to secure currency in a manner which would be acceptable as security for a loan of gold, but, to escape the cost involved in using that scarce medium or its representative, they would use their own property or credit, and not trespass upon others. Permit them to use other currency, and they cease to compete for gold. Thus abandoned by a part of society, gold may become cheaper for those who prefer it. The first question here, as in many other instances, is that of self-direction in business or of a paternal control based upon the idea that free contract is too dangerous to be permitted.
Cooperation a panacea?
Sharpers have said so, greenhorns have believed them. In reality, cooperation might be, and, if it is desired, will be, a potent peaceful agent of social transformation.
But on this condition,— that the greenhorns shall not let the sharpers put the tool in their pocket.
Juggling is so quickly done. A turn of the hand; presto! and there you are!
Friends of the Cooperative Congress at Tours, this letter is addressed to you. Beware of jugglery!
Ten years ago the wind blew in the direction of cooperation, and it was a good wind. But under the influence of metaphysical clouds from over the Rhine, part of the French Socialists have suddenly lost their footing, put on the air of a cyclone, and have begun to blow collectivism.
That the faithful friends of cooperation should have been thrown into a little confusion thereby was not astonishing; but that, the battalions once rallied, they should have so lost their way that now they seem no longer to know why they started, whence they came, or whether they would go, is a matter that requires a word of explanation. To fall into the beaten path of political economy would be the height of confusion for cooperation. Never again would they get out of that rut. Danger! cooperating friends.
Do you remember the early days when the roll-call of cooperation was beaten and you grouped yourselves in enthusiastic choruses, singing the captivating hymn of solidarity?
You were to replace from top to bottom the old, heavy, burdensome commercial edifice, to renew the worn-out, rusty, dirty tools of exchange which returned scarcely twenty-five per cent, of the force expended and rendered useless millions of intelligent heads, excellent hearts, and skilful hands, occupied in the parasitic labor of a decrepit commerce.
The industry of transportation, which is all of commerce, was so badly organized that the product delivered to it for twenty-five francs was sold for a hundred, though nothing had been added to it save a little dust from the warehouse.
This could not last, and the following reform was proposed.
The consumers should form groups. They know almost surely that they will want boots and shoes, overcoats, food. They should combine to the number of one hundred, two hundred, five hundred, and assure houses established for the purpose that they will regularly buy food, shoes, and coats of them.
On the other hand, these houses should turn to the laboring people in the different productive regions and say to them:
What need is there of a mass of middle-men, monopolists, devourers, adulterators, who thrust themselves between you, creators of products, and us, final distributors of products? Group yourselves, then, for cooperative production, as those who need to consume group themselves to cooperate in consumption; and we, the houses of distribution, will guarantee to purchase of you as we are guaranteed a sale by our consumer-customers. You, producers, will receive the value of your product, of your effort, without having to deal with a mass of hucksters and exploiters, who profit by your crises, by your accidents, and who hold the knife at your throats in order to pay no more for your sweat than they would for clear water. You, consumers, will find on our shelves every thing that you need, at cost, cost of sale included, without having to pour your hard-earned money into the hands of the multitude of middlemen allowed by the present system of exchanging products.
And again, all the activities uselessly devoted to operating the disastrous machinery of exchange would be restored to useful labor, and such labor would never be lacking.
Thus understood, cooperation is a solution of the great problem of social economy,— the delivery of products to the consumer at cost.
Now, this hope from cooperation would be destroyed and cooperation would be compromised, if the vote passed by the Lyons Congress in 1886 should be persisted in. That Congress, in fact, adopted the following principle as one of its formal objects:
To sell at retail prices and capitalize the profits.
The ambush was prepared. The economistic serpent, to tempt the cooperators and make them abandon their promised land, has said to them, not “Ye shall be as gods,” which is stale, but “Ye shall be capitalists!”
“What! buy at cost! A vulgar instinct, showing lack of foresight. And then, would you not grievously annoy the parasite next you, who, added to the parasites who supply him with merchandise, succeeds in extracting from your pocket a fourth or a third of its contents? Leave this commonplace of gross immediate gain; do not annoy parasitism; do not restore to useful labor those who are wearing themselves out in the absurd gearing of the commercial machine; renounce all ideas of emancipation; and follow simply the movement of the day, make profits.”
“Yes, incite profile. You shall establish a cooperative store. When you need a pound of candles, you will go to your store, which will have received this pound of candles with all charges paid and all risks covered, and you will lay down fifteen sous. If you profess Socialistic doctrines, you will give your store the fifteen sous and take away your candles. But that is an inferior way of doing things, and if you are imbued with the healthy doctrines of political economy, you will hasten to pay the price fixed by the old-time parasitism; you will give twenty-five sous. Then you can say that you have made a profit,— that you have gained the ten sous paid by you in excess.”
“Why, yes! since at the parasite’s you never would have seen them again, while by cooperation thus practised you have chances of getting them once more.”
“But would it not be better to keep my ten sous paid in excess and use them in buying shoes for my baby, who just now needs a pair?”
“What low instincts you have! Is it not a virtue to become a capitalist? When you have pinched the bellies of your entire family for a whole year by paying too high prices for everything, for a virtuous object and not to annoy those who sell everything for twice as much as it is worth, you will be in control of a small capital.”
“And this capital?”
“Ah! be careful not to touch it; leave it religiously in the treasury. It will be invested in bonds paying a handsome income, which you will receive later if you are not dead, or else in real estate the rents from which you will likewise receive in the future provided you are alive.”
This is how the cooperative idea can be turned from its path. If the famous pioneers of Rochdale had understood cooperation in consumption to mean the supply of products at actual cost, perhaps English commerce would have been revolutionized. They applied, on the contrary, this principle: Sale of goods at city retail prices and accumulation of the profits as savings, and thus they have simply ended by having a large sum of money in the society’s coffers, by means of which they have increased by several thousands the number of individuals who, by lending money at the highest possible interest, withdraw from other laborers a part of the product of their labor without any effort of their own.
One who had not lost his bearings, however, might say to the tempter at the outset:
“Villainous serpent, wicked serpent, lying serpent, why do you advise me thus? I have seen scandalous profits realized, and I have undertaken the task of putting an end to this scandal; I have blushed to think that I live in a time when a gentleman, because he has possessed a hundred francs once, can receive, without ever doing anything more, a hundred sous a year, and that indefinitely, continually, for himself or his heirs forever; and I hare become a cooperator, because that seemed to me the first remedy for such a state of things. And, serpent, you come to induce me, by insinuation, not to enter into competition with the old machinery of exchange; and, worse yet, to me who feel the rebellious blood boiling in my veins against all the Vantours and all the Gobsecks, you come to tempt me with the promise that — what? — that I shall be M. Vantour, that I shall be Father Gobseck!”
The economist would shrug his shoulders, as much as to say:
“You understand nothing of political economy.”
To the Editor of Liberty;
The last issue of Liberty contains an editorial headed, “Where silence would have been golden,” signed by V. Yarros, in which a “fling” is made at “a Boston labor reformer,” which is manifestly intended for me. To this I beg your leave to reply through Liberty.
With substantially this statement I opened the criticised address: There is a class of people in nearly every community that lives through the superstition of the common people; there is another class that thrives on their ignorance, known as lawyers; there is still another class that luxuriates on their labor: hence one might assume that it does not pay to be honest or virtuous, yet few, if any, of you would indorse such a conclusion. In reply to this my critic says: “Moreover, he began his speech by an affirmation that, despite all appearances, honesty is really the best policy and virtue the safest quality.” Is this true?
I disavow the statement which the editor puts into my mouth by means of quotation marks, not because it misrepresents me, but because I did not use exactly that language.
He also says that I “very earnestly protested against the indifference of the various schools of reform to the eight-hour movement.” I did nothing of the sort.
This is superb: The “address meant to be in favor of eight hours” approved the “quack remedy” when it “acknowledged the impotency of the eight-hour remedy.” Could you fatten this any?
I have practised gesticulatory, elocutionary, and phraseological sneers almost in vain. It is with the greatest difficulty that I approximate any of them. I am conscious of having made on the mentioned occasion no effort to effect a sneer, and have asked several of them that attended the meeting if I sneered, who answered negatively; therefore the gibe relative to a “strange and sneering remark” is, in fact, ungrounded.
In view of these facts, ought I not to cite the following of the editor’s language against him: “Unfairness and intentional misstatement would seem to be the only remaining explanation of his fling”?
Whether the eight-hour philosophy alleges to be a cure-all, cure-nothing, or cure-any-thing is a subject which I will not discuss in Liberty, because all her readers are familiar with it.
February 4, 1888.
[The article to which the above is intended as a reply appeared as an editorial by accident, my instructions to set it in small type not having been given with sufficient explicitness. But after the mistake I decided that it was not worth while to correct it, because I did not anticipate any dispute as to the words and ideas attributed to “Labor Reformer,” and, assuming them to be accurate, I sympathized largely with Mr. Yarros’s protest. Such dispute having arisen, I must leave Mr. Yarros and “Labor Reformer” to settle it between themselves, reminding the latter, however, that, in his present communication, he had discussed comparatively trivial points, to the neglect of Mr. Yarros’s main charge,— that “Labor Reformer” tried to make his audience believe that the opponents of the eight-hour movement combat it because it is not a cure-all, though he well knew that they combat it because it is a curenothing. — Editor Liberty.]
The Absurdity of Interest.
Ever since history commenced her story, we have been told by wise and good men that usury was wrong. But rarely, if ever, has the fact been noticed that paying money for the use of money is as absurd as it is wicked. When I tell the average man that interest is not necessary in the issue of and the use of money, he will laugh and say that I must be crazy.
Now, let us see where the laugh comes in, and who is the stupid, unthinking fool. John Stuart Mill says:
“A bank which lends its notes lends capital which it borrows of the community and for which it pays no interest.”
Here we see the community lending money — which is practically capital — for nothing, and the same community then borrows this same money and pays more for the use of it than for everything else. Is it possible to think of anything more absurd? If a man should give away a thing of value and then buy it back, he would be considered foolish, but if he should continue to repeat the act day after day, he would be thought to be a lunatic.
The natural compensation of labor is what labor produces; but now, under our system of credit monopoly, labor gets less than half of its product.
A man works some three months every year to keep a roof over him. Can anything be more ridiculous?
Look at a rich man: he has nothing to do but take his rents, and, while he lives in the greatest luxury, he yet buys more houses.
Sometimes, when I think of these things, I feel like saying: Damn the fools! Neither God nor man can help them until they get their eyes open.
A Case Where Discussion Convinced.
One word as to boycotting itself. “Jus” was some weeks ago taken to task by the Boston Liberty for incorrectly defining the term. “The line of distinction,” says Liberty, “does not run in the direction which ‘Jus’ tries to give it. Its course does not lie between the second person and a third person, but between the threats of invasion and the threats of ostracism, by which either the second or a third person is coerced or induced. All boycotting, no matter of what person, consists either in the utterance of a threat or in its execution. A man has a right to threaten what he has a right to execute. The boundary-line of justifiable boycotting is fixed by the nature of the threat used.” This seems reasonable enough, and, until we see the contrary proved, we shall accept this view in preference to that which we have put forward hitherto. At the same time, we are not so absolutely convinced of its soundness as to close our eyes to the fact that there may be a good deal said on the other side. The doctrine of conspiracy enters in. That which may not be illegal or even wrong in one person becomes both illegal and morally wrong in a crowd of persons.
Please Remember it.
[New York Herald.]
Congress has gone on for years piling laws upon laws and duties upon duties expressly to “protect” the American laborer and make him the more blessed of his kind, and yet strikes and discontent increase yearly. It was a wise statesman who said that the true way to reform evils was by the repeal of old and not the enactment of new laws. If our Congressmen were not so extremely busy — Heaven knows what with! — they might have time to consider this saying a little.
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.