“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.
A very lively quarrel is in progress among Australian radicals. Joseph Symes, the high priest of Free-thought at Melbourne, finding himself unable to “boss” the Anarchistic element so rapidly growing under the fostering care of David A. Andrade, is trying to expel it from the organization of the Secularists. His task is proving not altogether an easy one. Excluded from the columns of Symes’s paper, the “Liberator,” the Anarchists are conducting the fight through the “Australian Radical,” which is itself becoming more and more Anarchistic with each new issue.
It is not often that Liberty’s interpretation of the principle of equal liberty receives legal sanction. But its application of that principle to the matter of boycotting now has the clear endorsement of the California courts. The following decision has recently been rendered by Judge Maguire of the supreme court, who therein shows a knowledge of the doctrine of individual sovereignty which would make Eastern judges envious if they were not dishonest: “If each and all have the right to bestow their patronage or employment, or sell their labor to whomsoever they will, to commence and discontinue at will, then it would be absurd to say that, while each and all have the individual right, they cannot exercise it collectively, for that would be to assert that the exercise of one lawful right is legal, but that the exercise of two lawful rights is illegal; that while one right will not constitute a wrong, two rights, or ten rights, or one hundred rights will constitute a wrong, increasing in illegality with the number of rights collectively exercised, which is the reductio ad absurdum of the position that a combination among workmen to do collectively that which each has the individual and unquestioned right to do separately constitutes an unlawful act or an unlawful conspiracy.”
The London “Freedom” says that the American Mutualist papers, with the exception of the “Alarm,” “zealously repudiate all but passive resistance to oppression, and cling to the peace-at-all-costs doctrine of George Fox, Godwin, Shelley, Proudhon, and Leo Tolstoi.” The truth of this assertion cannot be tested unless “Freedom” will be good enough to define the doctrine concerning peace which it imagines these five men to hold in common. I am not sufficiently familiar with Godwin’s writings to speak positively of that author’s views, but I am certain that no American Mutualist paper accepts the non-resistant teachings of Fox and Tolstoi. And what Shelley is this that is sandwiched thus between these men? And what Proudhon? Surely not the Shelley who said to the Men of England: “Forge arms, in your defence to bear.” Surely not the Proudhon who wrote two large volumes on “War and Peace,” which, while a prophecy of peace, were at the same time a justification of war. Neither Shelley nor Proudhon preached peace-at-all-costs, nor do the American Mutualist papers. Liberty prefers peace to war only when it is less costly than war, and has never based its preference on any other ground. Before “Freedom” can intelligently criticise Individualistic Anarchism, it will have to make a further and closer study of it.
Translated from the French of Victor Hugo by B. R. Tucker.
Written at the aolmen of Rozel, January, 1853.
Say, why, within the soundless deeps
And walls of brass,
Within the fearful gloom where sleeps
The sky of glass,
Why, ’neath that sacred temple’s dome,
Dumb, vast retreat,
Within the infinite as tomb
Imprison your eternal laws
And your bright lights?
O truths! my wings will never pause
Below your heights.
Why hide yourselves within the shade
To us confound?
Gloom-compassed mankind why evade
By flight profound?
Let evil break, let evil build,
Be high, be low,
You know, O justice! I have willed,
To you I’ll go!
O beauty! pure ideal that lives
In germ ’mid woe,
That to the mind new firmness gives
And makes hearts grow,
You know it, you whom I adore,
O reason, love!
Who, like the rising sun, must soar
And shine above,
Faith, girdled with a belt of stars,
The right, the true,
O liberty! I’ll break my bars,
I’ll go to you!
In boundless space in vain do you,
O gleams of God!
Inhabit dismal depths of blue
By feet untrod.
Accustomed to the gulf, my soul
I have no fear of cloud or goal;
I am a bird.
I am a bird of such a sort
As Amos dreamed,
As sought Mark’s bedside and athwart
His vision gleamed,
Who, ’twixt a pair of eagle’s wings,
’Mid rays that rain,
O’er neck and forehead proudly flings
A lion’s mane.
Wings I possess. I soar on high;
My flight is sure;
Wings I possess for lurid sky
And azure pure.
Innumerable steps I climb;
I wish to know,
Though knowledge be as dark as crime
And bitter woe!
You surely know the soul dare try
The blackest hill;
If I must mount, however high,
Then mount I will.
You surely know the soul is strong
And fears nought, so
The breath of God bears it along!
You surely know
I’ll climb pilasters azure-crowned,
And that my feet,
Once on the ladder starward bound,
Will ne’er retreat!
Plunged in this troublous epoch, man,
To pierce the dark,
Must imitate Prometheus’ plan,
And Adam’s mark.
From austere heaven he must seize
A fiery rod;
To his own mystery find the keys,
And plunder God.
Within his hut, by tempests torn,
Man needs the sight
Of some high law in which is borne
His strength and light.
Forever ignorance and need!
In vain man’s flight,
From Fate’s tight grip he’s never freed!
The people now must overthrow
The stern decree,
And martyred man at last must know
Upon this dying era’s grim
Is sketched by love, in outline dim,
The future’s face.
The laws of human destiny
By God are signed;
And, though these laws mysterious be,
I have a mind.
I am the man who stops nowhere
And never falls,
The man prepared to go whene’er
I am the man to duty bound,
The poet austere,
The breath of grief, the lips to sound
A clarion drear;
The seer whose gloomy scroll records
Those living still,
Whose music freights the winds with words
That bode but ill;
The dreamer winged, the athlete bold
With sinewy arm.
And I the comet’s tail could hold,
Secure from harm.
To solve our problem and its laws
Then I engage;
I’ll go to them, nor further pause,
Why try to hide these laws profound?
Your walls are glass.
Your flames and waves begird no ground
But through I’ll pass;
I’ll go to read the bible grand;
I, nude, alone.
Will in the tabernacle stand
Of the unknown;
Into the darkness I will dash,
The deep abyss
O’er which the lurid lightnings flash
With jealous hiss.
I’ll go to the celestial gate,
Nor stop before,
And, thunders! growl at whate’er rate,
I’ll louder roar.
Socialist Economics and the Labor Movement.
By Victor Yarros.
The vexed question of the right of capital to reward having been settled, it remained for the author to unfold his plan of removing poverty without affecting the income of the capitalist. We have seen that extension of the use of machinery is the only means of increasing wealth. Now, what conditions the use of machinery? For an answer we are referred to Chapter Second, and in it we are told that there are two necessary requirements to be fulfilled to induce the capitalist to invest more and more in machinery. First, that the entire produce meet a demand, and, second, that it be sold. But perhaps only Socialists cannot see that, after a thing is sold at a profit, it cannot be unsold.) Considering that the working population consumes about eighty per cent. of the machine-made products of the world, it is clear that, unless the great majority of consumers are able to buy the increased quantity of goods, there is no market for them. And as the consuming capacity of the wage receivers who constitute that majority is limited by the rate of wages, that rate must be permanently raised in order to enable them to enlarge their consumption.
Gradually thus we are brought to the question of the law governing wages. But before we follow the author into Part Second of his book, we must point out a contradiction in his argument. When contending for the right of the tool-lender to a share (and a lion’s share) of the increase in the total product due to the use of the tool, Mr. Gunton was obliged to suppose that the inventor of the tool was the first to make the offer to his fellow-laborer to lend him the tool for a share of the benefit of its use, and that the laborer, seeing a chance to get a greater return from the same amount of labor, readily and gratefully accepted the offer. Now, when speaking of the consuming power of the laborers, he lays it down that all introduction of new and better methods in production has invariably been preceded by a demand for higher wages on the part of the laborer, which demand grows out as an inevitable result of unconscious social influences and changes. If this last be true, the question of the reward of the idle tool-lender will have to be reopened and reconsidered. For it is evident that, if employers are forced, in the interest of self-protection, to utilize all new improvements, and are not permitted to do it leisurely and as a matter of choice, the argument of extra inducements and increasing returns being a condition of extension of machinery falls to the ground.
With the critical analysis of various theories of the law of wages with which Part Second opens we are not concerned. Suffice it to say that its criticisms of Mr. George’s theory of wages are very strong, though not new. Readers of Liberty will recall Mr. Tucker’s articles against Mr. George, in which he contended that mere land had no practical use to the moneyless proletaire, who would rather starve or work for extremely low wages in the centres of trade and wealth than go out into the wilderness and lead a semi-barbarous life. Mr. Gunton’s argument is very similar to this, but not as conclusive. He refutes Mr. George’s imaginary and ungrounded theory of wages by pointing to the fact that employers pay higher wages to their laborers than they ought to according to Mr. George’s theory; but Mr. Tucker shows that even those who live most miserably on scant earnings and those who, having no employment, earn nothing and have only the hope of securing employment, would rather endure hardships in the cities than settle on unoccupied land.
After some preliminary remarks the author proceeds to state his idea of the law governing wages. We will not undertake to describe the confusion and muddle into which he gets himself by his valorous and bold defiance of all known theories of political economy. Arguing that labor, being a commodity and consequently subject to all the conditions of exchange, must have its price determined by the same general law governing all other things in the domain of exchange, the author accordingly first gives us a general law of prices: “The ratio in which quantities of different commodities will exchange for one another...is determined by the cost of production.” Not by the relations between supply and demand, as it is popularly, but erroneously, held among economists, and not by the amount of labor socially necessary to produce them, as the Socialists teach, but by the cost of the portion of the supply which is produced under the greatest disadvantages. Of all the parties engaged in the manufacture of a given article, that which has to struggle with the greatest difficulties and is least favorably situated as regards that line of production is the one which fixes the price of that article in the market. The author in advancing this theory, puts himself in opposition both to the economists and the Socialists and reveals his own mental disorder. The economists have a half-truth on their side, and so have the Socialists, and in order to clearly perceive Mr. Gunton’s enormous offence against elementary economic knowledge, it is necessary to bring together the two theories mentioned and show their inherent harmony. When it is said that supply and demand govern prices of commodities in the market, it is not to be taken as a denial that there are other factors by which prices are and can be determined. On the contrary, it is just because there are several such factors, and because they are constantly operating, conflicting and clashing with one another, that some general, though superficial, and, strictly speaking, meaningless formula, as supply and demand, was found necessary to express at any given moment the play of these factors in the market. The real fight is between labor cost and monopoly greed. In a natural state of the market, when competition is free and unlimited, the prices of things are reduced to and kept at the cost price. And not the cost to those who produce under the greatest disadvantages, but the cost of those who produce under the most advantageous conditions; for competition does not satisfy itself with securing greater profits to those who produce with better facilities, but tends to drive out of the circle the unsuccessful and backward, leaving none except the most enterprising and economical producers in the field. In a market hopelessly controlled and ruled by monopoly, prices are as far removed from the labor cost limit as prudence and the narrowest of self-interest will allow. When monopoly is enabled to suspend the rules of ordinary transactions, it will have no hesitation in taxing the people’s patience and endurance to the most extreme point compatible with its own immediate safety. The prices are then kept at the maximum that consumers are willing to pay rather than deprive themselves of the product altogether. But no sooner is competition allowed to march against its foe, monopoly, than the latter takes a hurried retreating step in the direction of cost. Weak and insufficient competition (such as we have today), while unable to kill the monopolies which are protected in their disadvantageous conditions, serves to check their greed and to indicate the tendency of more complete freedom. It is perfectly correct to say that supply and demand regulate prices, though the natural limit of price is that of cost.
Dimly realizing the fact that competition tends to reduce prices to average labor cost, but confused at the same time by the contradictory fact of profits, Mr. Gunton tries to save himself by the straw of cost of production under greatest disadvantages, which seems to him to afford a sure basis for a permanent system of profits. But the straw of course fails to save him, and he sinks, intellectually, in view of all who witness his desperate and frantic effort. Profit exists because monopoly and protection and privilege exist and freedom does not, or is but slightly tolerated; and also because the backward and poorer manufacturers find the means of holding their own in the otherwise unequal fight with their betters by making their help supply the deficiency. It is notorious that poorer employers who are without improved and perfected methods seek and contrive to keep themselves above water by grinding out more surplus value from their laborers. Mr. Gunton discusses the law of prices without the least recognition of the all-important difference between the natural operation of economic laws in a free market and the conditions of trade as we find them today. He is not aware that in establishing fundamental principles it is illegitimate and illogical to apply for evidence either for or against an abstract scientific proposition to the present industrial muddle, which cannot be analyzed and understood except in the light of those very fundamental principles.
Our author is now prepared to deal with the question of wages. In the first place, he takes issue with Marx, Proudhon, Bakounine, and Lassalle, who have heaped damnation upon what they all thought to be, and the last mentioned called, the iron law of wages. Asserting that there is nothing iron about wages, but that, on the contrary, there is nothing more flexible and elastic, the author, as conclusive and crushing evidence against the soundness of the Socialistic doctrine, points out that there are different rates of wages, and that cheap labor does not, as the iron law would seem to imply, entirely crowd out expensive laborers, but that numerous classes of laborers get very high wages and live up to a high standard. Whether in the supply of labor or that of other commodities, observes the author, the actual state of things is not that those who produce at the very lowest prices sell at cost and all others do not sell at all, as it should be according to the pessimistic iron law, but that there are various degrees of high and low wages as well as of profits. Far from being fixed by the minimum absolutely necessary for subsistence, wages, claims Mr. Gunton, are determined by the minimum amount upon which the most expensive laborers will consent to live. As in the case of other commodities, so in the supply of the labor-commodity, those who produce under the greatest disadvantages — that is, those who require a high standard of living — fix the prices at which all other laborers in their line will be employed, enabling those who are satisfied with a lower order of living to make accumulations and invest in real estate, etc.
Since the author is an entire stranger to the thought of Marx, Proudhon, Bakounine, and Lasalle, and knows nothing whatever of either their positive or negative positions, as I have already said and as I shall prove later on, I am relieved from the necessity and responsibility of defending them against their new assailant. His patronizing references to them and polemical remarks I will simply pass in undisturbed peace of mind. But with regard to the iron law of wages in general it may not be amiss to say a word or two for the benefit of Mr. Gunton and the uncritical reader who is liable to be misled. First, then, Mr. Gunton evidently is under the impression that the “iron law of wages” is a Socialistic invention, a result of pessimistic exaggeration, which does not describe any real phenomenon, either past or present. Yet the Socialists (in the person of Lasalle) have only, so to speak, an etymological share in the matter, for the iron law of wages refers to and embodies the Ricardo-Malthusian conclusions concerning the effect of fluctuations of wages upon population, and vice versa. Mr. Gunton, for no obvious reason, leaves out the subject of population altogether from the discussion of wages; yet if he had glanced into the writings of Lasalle (whom he feels at liberty to censure), he would have known that it is futile, thoughtless, and inexcusably arbitrary to dissociate the iron law of wages from the question of population and criticise it in its isolated and meaningless form. Again, the iron law of wages does not pretend to be an exact and absolutely accurate description of actual facts, but merely an approximately true indication of the tendency of wages under the present capitalistic system. Mr. Gunton, further, interprets it to mean that the laborers are reduced to the lowest conceivable point at which a human being can subsist, and, making his own rendering the basis for abundant talk about the differences of the standards of living in different civilizations, demands to be told why, if this law be true, wages in this country do not fall to the Chinese and Indian level and why American laborers are not reduced to the extremity of subsisting on rice and fish. No Socialist of course is obliged to answer this question, for the iron law does not necessarily imply or involve such a consummation. It only affirms that the tendency is to reduce the laborer to the minimum at which he, at a given time, will consent to live and what he considers the necessaries of existence. Thus far and no farther can the ruling order drive him; beyond that the red terror and revolution reign supreme. Among unskilled workers naturally the reality of this tendency is displayed in its most palpable form. Those who know the life of some classes of common laborers in mining regions and of working women and children in large cities surely could give Mr. Gunton valuable information regarding the lowness of the level of some portions of American wage-workers. At any rate, even if extreme degradation were really unknown here, the iron law would not be disproven by it. For there are still numerous influences at work which check the downward movement and slacken its velocity. A patient may be doomed to a slow and gradual decline while yet allowed temporary breathing spells now and then. Need Mr. Gunton be told that in all statements of what a certain law is bound to effect, the qualification, if unchecked or counteracted, is implied?
Wages, as Mr. Gunton truly says, are determined in the same way that the prices of other commodities are determined. Competition among laborers tends to bring wages down to the cost of production,— that is, the least amount upon which existence is considered desirable and preferable to suicide or the dangers of war and social chaos. Thus we see that where competition is freest and bitterest, as among the low unskilled laborers, wages are at this point where the iron law reaches its culmination. The less competition in the supply of labor, the higher the wages. Skilled laborers, enjoying a species of monopoly, command their prices precisely as sellers of other monopoly-commodities do. But the difference is that machinery and minute division of labor are constantly rendering skill less and less necessary and thus make monopoly in the supply of labor an exception which becomes rarer and rarer every day. Labor, indeed, is the only commodity in the supply of which competition promises to soon be at its fullest and the price of which consequently will sink to the cost limit. (And herein, by the way, is to be found the condemnation of capitalism, for of all commodities labor should always be — and, under a rational and free industrial system, could not fail to be — the one exceptional commodity for which demand would greatly exceed the supply and of which the sellers would command the terms.) Victim of a patent-remedy, Mr. Gunton scornfully ignores every-day facts and experiences of the labor world. Unsuccessful strikes, defeats and failures of organizations, seem to contain no lesson for him. And the immense army of starving unemployed is entirely left out of the classification of the factors operating on wages. It were interesting to know what Mr. Gunton thinks of the condition of the unemployed: whether they are literally worse off than the laborers of past times or whether their poverty is only “more intense in kind.”
But we must follow Mr. Gunton’s argument and let him make out his case. The standard of living being the regulator of the price of labor, no permanent increase in the rate of wages is possible except through raising that standard. The habits of the working population must be improved and refined, their opportunities enlarged, their wants multiplied, their appetite developed. A loud and emphatic demand for more of the pleasures of life must arise before the capitalists will be moved to action. As long hours of hard toil are destructive of high aspirations and refined cravings, a reduction of the hours of labor is the first step toward a new order of life. This step taken, a number of others in the same direction would necessarily follow. The employer, in order to satisfy the demand for higher wages without loss to himself, would cheapen the process of production,— that is, would introduce new machinery. But even then he would not be equal to the task of supplying the increased demand for commodities. He would have to call in all idle hands and give them employment at good wages. In short, once begun, this movement would steadily gain in vigor and solidity, ever making new and still greater reforms indispensable, finally working out the solution of the labor problem. This reform, however, must not begin where it is most sadly needed. There is no immediate help for those who are most disastrously wrecked by our industrial war. Sentiment must submit to economic necessity, and those who are least pinched must first be attended to and surrounded with greater comforts. Only slowly and imperceptibly will the amelioration spread among the lower classes of laborers, for their degradation and brutality are too deep to allow them any rapid elevation and development.
To be continued.
Love, Marriage, and Divorce,
And the Sovereignty of the Individual.
Henry James, Horace Greeley, and Stephen Pearl Andrews.
Mr. Andrews’ Reply to Mr. James and Mr. Greeley.
Continued from No. 126.
You speak in the most hopeless manner of the final removal of murder from the face of the earth. Do you reflect that already among us one-half the crimes of the Old World, or of other countries, are entirely unknown as crimes. Such are lésé majesté and heresy, the utterance of treason, etc. Thirty hours’ ride south of us, the crime which actually shocks the public mind more than any other is negro-stealing. Throughout the Southern States it is pretty much the only crime that is rigorously punished. Here it is unknown, even by name, among the common people. What, now, is the cause of this wonderful phenomenon,— that one-half of the known crimes of the world are actually gone out and extinguished in this the freest spot (observe the fact) upon the face of the earth? It is simply this,— that the artificial institutions against which these crimes are but the natural protest of oppressed and rebellious humanity have themselves gone out — not, as is thoughtlessly supposed, to be replaced by better institutions, but by the absence of institutions — by the natural and untrammeled action of individuals in a state of freedom. There is no lésé majesté, because there is no institution of majesty to be insulted or offended; there is no heresy, because there is no instituted or established church; there is no verbal treason, because there is so little of government that it seldom provokes resistance, and can afford to wait till the resistance becomes overt; there is no negrostealing, because there is no institution of slavery; there is no publication of incendiary documents as a crime, because there is no institution so conscious of its own insecurity as to construe freedom of the press into a crime; there will be no seduction, and no bigamy, and no adultery, when there is no legal or forceful institution of marriage to defend, when woman is recognized as belonging to herself and not to a husband, when she is expected simply to be true to herself and not to any man, except so far as such fidelity results from fidelity to herself as the prior condition, of which she alone of all human beings is a competent judge; and when, by the principle of “commercial equity,” which, thanks to the same science of society, is now known in the world, woman shall be placed upon a footing of entire pecuniary independence of man and installed in the actual possession, as well as admitted to the right, of being an individual.
There is already far less murder among us than elsewhere in the world, because there are less institutions to be offended against. With still less institutions there will be still less murder, and, with the addition of equitable relations between capital and labor, there will be none. Crime is just as much a matter of cultivation as potatoes. The way to produce it and the way to prevent it is a matter of science, just as much as any chemical process. Chemical processes go on and fail to go on in nature without our knowledge, but we can learn them and hasten or prevent them. Crime springs solely from two causes. 1. The existence of arbitrary institutions, and the ignorant and false ideas in men’s minds growing out of our relation to those institutions, whereby acts are construed to be crimes, which, by the institutes of natural law, are no crimes; and, 2. The denial of equity, growing out of ignorance of the scientific principle of equity, and out of the want of sufficient intelligence and expansion of the intellect to enable men to see that their interests lie in adopting and acting upon that principle, when known. In other words, out of the denial of the sovereignty of the individual in all things, and out of a false or unscientific commercial system.
I see clearly, and even sympathize with, while I do not partake of, the fears of the conservative and half-way progressive, from the growth of the sovereignty of the individual. Still further, I recognize that evils and disorderly conduct grow out of its growth, when unattended, as it is hitherto, by “equity” in the distribution of the burdens and benefits of life. But I see just as clearly that the remedy for those evils does not lie in the direction of repression or forcible constraint, but in the acceptance and addition of an entirely new principle of order; not in going backward to a system which has been tried, and disastrously failed, for thousands of years, but in going forward to the discovery and application of a new and efficacious system.
You expressly acknowledge, you can not but acknowledge, that marriage does not work well for all the parties concerned,— only for some of them; and the first must be content to sacrifice their life-long happiness and well-being for the good of the others. No such system will ever content the world, nor ever should. It does not meet the wants of man. Your line of reasoning is after the old sort,— that the State exists not for the good of this or that individual, but for the good of all, when you begin by admitting that the good of all is not secured. You are, of course, aware that this is the argument of every despot and despotism in the world, under which the liberties of mankind have always been stolen. The argument is the same, and just as good, in the mouth of Louis Napoleon as it is in yours. It is just as good as a reason for depriving me of the freedom of the press, as it is when urged as a reason for depriving me of freedom in the most sacred affections of the heart. The most stupendous mistake that this world of ours has ever made is that of erecting an abstraction, the State, the Church, Public Morality according to some accepted standard, or some other ideal thing, into a real personality, and making it paramount to the will and happiness of the individual.
So much for principles. Now, then, there is another thing in the world which is called expediency, which is just as right and just as good a thing, in its place, as principle. Principle indicates the true and right toward which we are to aim, and which we are finally to attain; expediency, what we are to do provisionally, or as the next best thing, in the midst of the wrong by which we are surrounded, while working to vindicate principle, or to secure the final right. If your tariff doctrines, for example, and other repressive measures, were put fairly on the basis of expediency, or present exigency, and admitted to be wrong in principle, evils themselves, to be zealously overthrown as soon as practicable, I might go a great way along with you. Extremes meet. Ultra and intelligent radicalism has many points of relationship to rigid conservatism. Its surface action is often just the reverse of its deeper and more persistent movement. You certainly do not mean to assert that free trade is a wrong thing in itself; that it is a breach of one of nature’s laws, a thing to be feared and defended against, if the whole world were dealing fairly and honestly in the reward of labor and in their interchanges with each other. You mean that, because the European capitalist deals with his laborer upon such terms as render him a pauper, American laborers are compelled, by their wrong, to resort to another wrong, and refuse to buy those starvation products, in order to protect their own labor from the same depression through the medium of competition. They are compelled by the wrong of others to deprive themselves of one right, as an expediency, to secure themselves in the possession of another right. Hence you are found defending a tariff on the ground that it is the most speedy avenue to free trade with safety,— free trade and safety being both goods to be sought after and attained.
So, again, you do not and can not mean that the time is never to come when woman shall possess the freedom to bestow herself according to the dictates of her own affections, wholly apart from the mercenary considerations of shelter, and food, and raiment, and to choose freely at all times the father of her own child. You do not, of course, mean that the free play and full development and varied experience of the affections is intrinsically a bad thing, any more than the development of the bodily strength or of the intellect; but only that it is bad relatively to the present depressed and dependent condition of the woman; just as intellectual development is a misfortune to the slave, only tending to render him unhappy until the final period approaches for his emancipation. You certainly do not believe that human society, in the highest state of well-being it is destined to attain, is ever to be attended by an army of martyrs, who must sacrifice their own highest happiness and “the highest happiness of all the parties immediately concerned” to the security and well-being of somebody else remotely interested.
Do you, or do you not, then, advocate restrictions upon the exercise of the affections as you do the tariff,— merely as a means of arriving the more speedily at complete “free trade”?
To be continued.
The Rag-Picker of Paris.
By Felix Pyat.
Translated from the French by Benj. B. Tucker.
Continued from No. 126.
Some of the neighbors leaned over the bannisters and jumped back, frightened.
“It is he?” asked Mme. Didier, with a gleam of hope.
There was no answer.
“What is the matter?” she continued.
“Nothing good,” murmured a member of the group.
She rushed to the stairs, pressing her child to her bosom.
“Go no farther, poor lady!” said a man who was hurriedly ascending.
It was Jean.
But, borne on by her impulse, the unfortunate woman violently pushed him aside.
Banker, collector, cashier, and officer followed her.
Some municipal guards appeared, bearing a torch.
“Arrested! at last!” cried the banker, deceived by appearances.
But suddenly the body of Jacques Didier came into view upon a stretcher.
“No! dead!” said the poor woman, with a terrible cry.
“Ruined!” exclaimed the banker, leaning against the wall to keep from falling.
“Murdered! Murdered!” repeated the widow, throwing herself upon the stretcher.
“Dishonored!” he responded.
“My husband! My baby!”
“Oh! My God! My God! restore my uncertainty!”
And a flood of blood rushed to the banker’s neck and head.
“You see that we are not all knaves or fools,” said Brmont, gravely; “you sought a robber and you find a victim.”
The banker heard no more; his apoplexy stifled him; and, stammering these incoherent words: “Maturity, end of the month, bankruptcy!” he sank at the head of the stairs like an ox felled by a club.
The widow, raising her head, saw the miserable man fallen near Jacques at her feet, and with a movement of sublime compassion she exclaimed:
“Ah! poor Monsieur!”
Then, quickly entering her room again and depositing her baby in the cradle, she was the first to go to the banker’s aid, moistening his temples with salts and water.
“Ah! he would not do as much,” said the cashier, deeply moved and looking at his employer, who was recovering consciousness. “A strong-box is not a heart!”
All hastened around the banker. The cashier aided the guards to bear him away.
It is said that the name Calais was found in the heart of Queen Elizabeth. The word bankruptcy would have been found in that of the banker.
While they were going out, the widow came back to her own sorrow and her own dead, distracted for a moment by that feeling so keen among the masses,— solidarity in misfortune.
Kneeling by Jacques’s side, she felt of him, called him, kissed him, tried to restore him to life, to impart to him her own.
“Ah! his poor blood! Dumb, dull, cold, dead!”
And, despair giving her tenfold strength, she took the body in her arms and laid it on the conjugal bed.
Unperceived by her, Jean had remained a witness of this desolation. At all risk he had rejoined the patrol and guided it to Didier’s address. Agitated, he descended to the story just above the ground-floor, where the janitor’s lodge was located.
“Have you anything to let here?” he asked the janitor, abruptly.
“Yes, a loft,” answered the latter, sleepily. “But why?”
“Nothing. I simply wanted to know. I will come back.”
And he descended, or rather jumped down, the rest of the stairs, wiping two big tears from his beard as he reached the street and saying:
“Really, I didn’t think I knew how to weep. Ah! yes, I will come back, by tomorrow at the latest.”
At the Pawn-shop.
The next day the entire press reported the double tragedy of the Berville mansion and the Didier garret.
The authorities were congratulated on restoring the body of Jacques to his widow, instead of sending it to the Morgue, as is the rule. Right-thinking journals, well cared for out of the secret funds, did not fail to affirm that it was a great consolation to the poor woman in her affliction to be able to bury her husband at her own expense.
It was necessary, then, to pay for burial in any cemetery save that of the criminals, which receives its bodies from the Morgue and from the scaffold, scoundrels and outcasts, murderers and suicides, the whole offscouring of civilization, no less good than Providence, that other Divine.
An immense current of interested sympathy was formed . . . . for whom? For M. Berville. And everybody repeated after his newspaper: “The poor man!” As for the widow, there was no further question of her; she was left to herself. For she had no stockholders, no person interested in her safety.
What is the ruin of a woman of the people? That of a banker is quite another thing!
The principal creditors and stockholders of the Berville Bank granted a renewal of their claims for a fortnight, thus permitting the banker to double the cape of maturity, the end of the month. This mark of confidence and prudence did not fill the treasury; but at least M. Berville had a breathing-spell before the inevitable crash that awaited him on the fifteenth of the month, the wealthy classes’ day of settlement and the limit of the conceded delay.
That of the poor, the petty rent-day, as it is scornfully called by the proprietors, was near at hand with no prospect of indulgence. Consequently the pawn-shops were never empty. The central office, in the Rue des Blancs-Manteaux, was crowded from morning till night. The entire laboring and consequently needy population of Paris came to this shrine of Saint Necessity to pledge their poor offerings at the headquarters of philanthropic and official usury.
A woman dressed in black made her way into the office of pledges and redemptions.
Undecided or ashamed, she looked on for a moment at the continuous and varied procession, by turns ludicrous and pitiful, of those coming and going.
She did not notice the presence of a man in a blouse, who had entered behind her and was sitting in concealment on a bench in a dark corner of the room.
Summoning all her courage, she finally took her place between two railings, running in front of the grated windows.
The clerks, bending over their registers, noted the pledges, took strict account of the names, addresses, and professions of the borrowers in order to strip them as much as possible, delivered them their pawn-tickets, and handed them cards against which the cashier paid them the sums loaned.
The attendant went back and forth, taking the packages and carrying them into an adjoining room, where they were estimated in a loud voice.
The woman dressed in black was the last of a line of thirty persons, arranged in single file as at the ticket-office of a theatre, all having packages or articles in their hands.
A girl dressed with the elegance of an interloper, with a fine India cashmere on her back and a short silk mantle under her arm, then entered as if perfectly at home and went straight to the window without heeding the procession.
“At the end of the line!” cried the crowd.
Not disconcerted, the beauty slipped a coin into the attendant’s hand and advanced.
“At the end of the line! at the end of the line!” the voices repeated, louder than before.
“It is an outrage!” exclaimed a Hercules with a husky voice.
“What do you expect?” answered the attendant; “it is a custom.”
She was already at the window, on the other side of the railing, handing in her shawl.
“Ah! this has been here before,” said the clerk, not examining it very closely; “number 66, ninety dollars.”
“I need a hundred.”
“Then complete your security, my dear.”
She took off her lace veil.
“Oh!” exclaimed the Hercules, “it is Sophie.”
“My daughter! Sophie! Sophie!” cried in turn a woman at the head of the line, “give me a dollar.”
“What does this crazy creature mean?” said Sophie, superbly.
“All right! One hundred dollars,” said the clerk, receiving the veil. “Forty cents to be deducted for the wrapping.”
Sophie threw down the forty cents, received the hundred dollars, and, putting on her mantle, went out, as proud and irresponsible as Queen Victoria.
“Number 67. Come, be quick,” cried the clerk from his window, the space in front of which was left vacant for a moment.
And the denied mother, a poor madonna with a poor Jesus clinging to her neck, who, either from shame or fear, had hesitated a moment before opening her bundle, with a trembling hand laid a heap of rags upon the counter in front of the window.
They were the woman and the innocent who had presided at the lottery of the basket at the Hotel d’ltalie.
“We cannot lend on those,” said the attendant, pushing back the needy woman’s collateral.
“I am in such need, good people,” she murmured. “Only twenty cents. I have nothing but these things, and no bread.”
“You know very well that we do not lend less than sixty cents,” said the clerk.
“Monsieur! I beg of you,” said the poor woman.
“This is not the charity department; go to the board of public relief.”
“Come, my old woman, make room for the others!” said the attendant.
The unfortunate creature left the railing and went away, saying in an undertone of despair:
“Nothing left, nothing! Ah! such heartless people as my daughter!”
She passed by the woman in black; the latter stopped her, and, quietly slipping a few copper coins into her hand, said, in a voice of ineffable sadness:
“For the little one.”
“Oh! thank you!” exclaimed the other. “God bless you! This saves us . . . till tomorrow.”
And she passed out, pressing her baby, who also uttered his moan of thanks, more closely than ever to her breast.
“Number 68,” cried the clerk.
A drunken and dissolute man, another acquaintance of the Hotel d’ltalie, the Hercules of the North, asked by the attendant to lay down his collateral, fumbled for a moment, and then, with herculean wit, said:
“One moment, and I will show you, governor. . . . I have been robbed. . . . One would say that ‘my aunt’ has nephews and all sorts of relatives. What a family! It is enough to stifle one! It makes one hot . . . . and thirsty. Ah! but don’t push so in the rear. Say, easy there, relatives!”
“Well?” said the attendant, getting impatient.
“Yes, well? what do you want, young fellow?”
“What have you to pawn?”
“Myself!” answered the Hercules. “I weigh two hundred . . . . not easy to support, and the government is bound to restore articles in good condition!”
“Will you clear out?” said the attendant.
And he gave him a rude shove.
“Take care . . . . fragile! You are answerable for breakage. I come to put myself in gage, I tell you.”
“In cage, you mean,” said the clerk, intervening.
Then, calling the officer on duty, he said:
“We have had enough of this. Officer, take Monsieur into the jewelry room.”
The drunkard tried to resist.
“I tell you that I wish to be hung up.”
“That’s what we are going to do with you,” retorted the clerk. “Next!”
The officer led away the obstinate man, who still went on jabbering:
“You will give the ticket to my wife. She will come to redeem me,— the tall beauty who just went out without her cashmere. She loves me like a beast; consequently I do as I please. When one is a fine specimen of a man, he ought to live on his physique, eh?”
The door closed upon him.
“Number 69, a clock . . . Ah! we are deaf with them, two dollars,” cried the clerk; “number 70, a set of teeth, not new, sixty cents.”
- Brémont, M. Berville’s cashier, hesitating and mortified, offered a set of diamonds which had belonged to Mme. Berville.
“Number 71, six thousand dollars.”
Then came the turn of a man of military bearing.
“Number 72, a sword, three dollars. No, it is a sword of honor, with the name upon it: only two dollars and forty cents.”
The valuations continued.
A gentleman, decorated and serious as a diplomat, was at the window.
“A necklace of the order of the Golden Fleece...an imitation. Number 78, one dollar.”
A workingman, in the prime of life, handed in the implements of his toil, saying in a discouraged tone:
“No more work . . . No need of tools”. . .
“Number 74, a hammer, nippers, etc., eighty cents.”
“Not a dollar?”
“No, we have too many of these traps. Eighty cents...will you take it?”
“Twenty cents for wrapping, you know?”
The workingman bit his moustache and grumbled as he passed to the cashier’s office, where he was given but sixty cents.
A freshly-shaven individual, looking like a clergyman, advanced a picture. “Number 75, a Raphael, ‘The Holy Family,’ a copy. We cannot take that. Ah! yes, the frame is copper; a dollar and forty cents.”
“That is not much for my poor little ones, Monsieur.”
“Or your mistress,” muttered the workingman on his way to the payment office. And he added, laughing:
“See, the Good God! the Good God also pulls the devil by the tail.”
A musician took his place before the window.
“A violin,” said he.
“Try it,” said the clerk.
The artist began to play the “Marseillaise.”
“Stop, or I arrest you!” exclaimed the officer, just then coming in again.
“All right. Number 76, six dollars,” continued the appraiser.
A sculptor passed in several busts under the head of objects of art.
“Number 77, Charles X, Napoleon I, and Louis XVIII. Three plasters, not much difference! a dollar, forty cents, twenty cents,— in all, a dollar and sixty.” The Hercules had returned behind the officer.
“Louis Eighteen,” he cried, with his massive wit, “Louis Eighteen! I prefer eighteen louis! Where is Sophie, who has twenty-five? I must have her.”
Again the officer put him out.
“Ah! Number 78, a silver watch with its chain, and a second-hand wedding-ring, five dollars.”
The tired clerk raised his eyes upon the person offering them.
It was the last comer.
“Have you your husband’s authorization?”
“I am a widow, Monsieur.”
“Then a death certificate is necessary; two licensed witnesses must answer for you and sign upon this register.”
“Two licensed witnesses?”
“Yes, two merchants of your neighborhood.”
“But I have nobody, Monsieur. I cannot make my position known to everybody. It is impossible.”
“I am very sorry, but it is indispensable.”
“Then give me back my things; I will go to a second-hand dealer.”
“No. The pledge is seized. Here is a receipt.”
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 “Home Guard” Heard From.
The last issue of the “Workmen’s Advocate” contains the following communication:
To the Workmen’s Advocate:
Oh! what a feeling of rapture came over me as I began reading the dialogue between Tucker and Fenno in the last number of Liberty. (Ego Tucker needs no introduction, Fenno is the fiend who came to collect the poll tax.) My thoughts went back to another age and to distant clime. I thought of John Hampden refusing to pay the ship tax. I had often asked myself, who will be the leader in this, the struggle of the fourth estate? Where is the man who will dare resist oppression? I thought I was answered. Here! here was the man who would risk all for Liberty! And although she slew him, still would he trust in her!
But softly; as I read further, he takes the big iron dollar from his pocket and gives it to the minion.
Oh, ignominy! Instead of refusing to pay, he indulges in a little billingsgate,— a favorite pastime with him. He pays, and all is over. Our idol is but clay, and we must seek another leader. Is this what Ego Anarchists call “passive resistance”? If it is, it is certainly passive.
H. J. French.
Denver, June 5.
When I published the poll-tax interview, I foresaw that it would call out some such rubbish as the above from my Socialistic critics. The fact that timely retreat often saves from defeat seldom saves the retreating soldier from the abuse of the “home guard.” The “stay-at-homes” are great worshippers of glory, but are always willing to let others win it. To the man of peace the man who runs is never a hero, although the true soldier may know him for the bravest of the brave. After reading such a criticism as Mr. French’s, well may one exclaim with Wilfrid Scawen Blunt: “What men call courage is the least noble thing of which they boast.” To my mind there is no such depth of poltroonery as that of the man who does not dare to run. For he has not the real courage to obey his own judgment against that “spook,” public opinion, above which his mind is not sufficiently emancipated to rise in scorn. Placed in a situation where, from the choice of one or the other horn of a dilemma, it must follow either that fools will think a man a coward or that wise men will think him a fool, I can conceive of no possible ground for hesitancy in the selection. I know my circumstances better than Mr. French can know them, and I do not permit him to be my judge. When I want glory, I know how to get it. But I am not working for glory. Like the base ball player who sacrifices his individual record to the success of his club, I am “playing for my team,” — that is, I am working for my cause. And I know that, on the whole, it was better for my cause that I should pay my tax this year than that I should refuse to pay it. Is this passive resistance? asks Mr. French. No; it is simply a protest for the purpose of propagandism. Passive resistants, no less than active resistants, have the right to choose when to resist.
Far be it from me to depreciate the services of the Hampdens and the martyrs reverenced by mankind.
There are times when the course that such men follow is the best policy, and then their conduct is of the noblest. But there are times also when it is sheer lunacy, and then their conduct is not for sane men to admire. Did Mr. French ever hear of the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava? And does he remember the comment of the military man who witnessed that memorable, that splendid, that insane exploit, fruitful in nothing save the slaughter of half a thousand men: “It is magnificent, but it is not war.” The editor of Liberty is engaged in war.
Mr. Underwood and the Anarchists.
To the Editor of Liberty:
In your issue of May 26 you speak of my “slanderous references to Anarchists” in the Boston “Investigator.” If I have slandered Anarchists, I am sorry. I certainly have not done so consciously. I am confident that I have not done so at all. Who are Anarchists? You say Thomas Paine was an Anarchist. If this be true, I am an Anarchist, for I agree with Paine in his views of government. Perhaps you will be kind enough to reproduce one or two of the “slanderous references” to which you refer. My aim is to be just to every class of thinker, whether I concur in their views or not.
Yours truly, B. F. Underwood.
Chicago, Ill, June, 1888.
The “slanderous references to Anarchists” appeared in the “Investigator” of March 21, in an article on “Freethinkers and Free Thought.” It was my original intention to subject that article to systematic criticism, but so many weeks passed before time permitted that I decided to dismiss it with a paragraph. If, however, Mr. Underwood insists on proof, in fairness it must be furnished; hence I give below the principal portion of the matter which I have characterized as slanderous.
We see the words Freethinker and Free Thought used to indicate the views of Darwin and Spencer and George Eliot, and of those “Anarchists and Freethinkers” — products of European despotism — who would destroy government and religion by dynamite. The temptation is doubtless strong, when the object is to show the weakness of the views held by actual Freethinkers, to bring in the cruel thought and violent methods of the ignorant and undiscriminating men who are regarded as an element of danger in the country. But these men are not in any rational meaning of the word “Freethinkers.”
Their condition is one produced by that despotism, civil and religious, which has been the persistent foe of Freethinkers and of Free Thought. The men who come to this Republic and advocate violence as the true method of reform are not Freethinkers in fact. It would be nearer the truth to say they are no-thinkers; in truth, they are men who have thought enough to enable them to perceive injustice and wrong, but not enough to enable them to distinguish between real and fanciful causes, or between the necessary condition of social life and security, and evils, admitting of removal, connected therewith. “Freethinking habits” never produced men of this type. They are the legitimate products of conditions caused by the accursed union of church and State, of priestcraft and kingcraft, and the military system which is encouraged and sustained by this corrupt union, and which goes far to neutralize the effects of intellectual and moral culture in repressing the brute in man.
With a few years’ experience in this country, and opportunities that will be afforded them to observe the methods by which reforms are effected here, where the social rigidity of the old world is unknown, these revolutionary Anarchists and Socialists will, let us hope, outgrow their wild theories, and, by the exercise of Free Thought, of which they have had too little, they must share the larger and broader views, and the milder and more constructive spirit, of the country and the times.
What is the estimate placed in these paragraphs upon the men to whom they refer? Simply this,— that they are illiterate, ignorant, undiscriminating men, well-nigh devoid of intellectual and moral culture, and governed by instincts largely brutal. Who are the men thus characterized? Clearly and indubitably those typified by the eight defendants in the recent trial at Chicago growing out of the bomb-throwing. What is the real truth about those eight men in the respects specified? That among them there was not one who was not above the average American citizen, the product of our “free institutions,” in enlightenment, culture, and gentle-heartedness, and that some of them were men of distinct superiority in education, intelligence, and humanitarian sympathies, not only to the average American, but, in my judgment, to Mr. Underwood himself. And yet it would be a slander upon Mr. Underwood to apply to him such language as he applies to them. Is not his language equally a slander upon them?
Mr. Underwood’s question as to who are Anarchists is not to the purpose at the present moment. Perhaps I ought to have been more definite in my accusation. In charging Mr. Underwood with “slanderous references to Anarchists,” I meant slanderous references to the men whom he called Anarchists.
As the “Investigator” has published a letter from a correspondent in which I am called upon to substantiate my complaint against Mr. Underwood, I hope that paper will have the kindness to reproduce this article, which I tender as my response.
Liberty in the Incidental.
In reviewing my comments on Comrade Leahy’s position, I am reminded that the subject is not exhausted; that there are incidental injuries as well as incidental benefits; that there is a reverse as well as an obverse to the coin. And this side of the question puzzles students of Anarchism at least as much as the other, and perhaps more.
The question appears and reappears in a hundred different forms, but so far, by holding fast to the principles of individuality and cost, I have always been able to answer it, at least to my own satisfaction. And I think that the trouble with those who are troubled is a false conception of what constitutes liberty, and, consequently and necessarily, a false conception of what constitutes a violation of liberty. They do not consider their problems in the light of Anarchistic definitions.
The most disagreeable, yet perhaps the most necessary, part of a teacher’s function is the frequent reference to first principles, the constant repetition of fundamental definitions, the patient restatement of apparent truisms. And this labor we Anarchists may in no wise shirk, but must accompany every lesson with definitions of liberty and of government, knowing right well that, when all men accept these definitions, our battle will be more than half won; and when all men understand them, there will be no more battle for all time.
Liberty for the unassociated man is the right to do as he pleases. But the unassociated man is either the man unknown or a criminal. If we do not know him, he is to us non-existent; and if a criminal, we are against him. Therefore the only liberty we are concerned with is social liberty, and social liberty is the right of each to do as he pleases co-equal with his fellow, or the right of each to do as he pleases at his own expense,— equal liberty. Crime is an invasion of social, equal, liberty. Government, viewed in its history and necessity, is an association, or an act, for the invasion of equal liberty. Therefore government and crime are synonyms, governors are criminals, criminals are governors, and action or association to resist crime, government, is not properly to be called government (for that is confusion and contradiction), but defendment.
Tiresome and ridiculous as the following questions must appear to many, they are asked every day by awakening minds of the first intelligence, and urged as objections to the philosophy of liberty. Thus:
“I am a Christian, and a believer in the sacredness of marriage, but there’s my neighbor, Mr. White, living right opposite to me with a shameless creature whom he has not married. He takes walks and rides with her, and takes her everywhere, and it’s the scandal of the neighborhood, a perfect nuisance. I know a family that moved away rather than endure it, and it is frightfully demoralizing to my son and daughters. As a free woman I have a right to live in a decent neighborhood. She ought to be arrested, anyway,” etc.
Sad case. Let’s see,— you appeal in the name of freedom? — to freedom we will go. You are Christian and married, these “nuisances” are un-Christian and unmarried; equal liberty, all right. He goes with the “shameless creature” to walk, to ride, everywhere. Well, you go with your husband, who appears equally shameless, to walk, to ride, everywhere. Right again. The “scandal of the neighborhood”? Whose fault is that? If the neighborhood minded its own-business, would there be any scandal? Certainly these people desire none.
Scandal mongers have a right to scare themselves with their own phantoms, but let them take care they do not tell lies that the accused have no chance to refute with the truth. The nuisanceship appears to be of your own construction; for, if you agreed with these people, they would be your friends, and no nuisances, yet their attitude would be unchanged. What shall be thought of those who construct nuisances? The family that moved was free to stay, therefore not invaded. The “demoralization” of your son and daughters depends, first, on their ideas of morality, and, secondly, upon their self-application of the “demoralizing” agent or agencies. Suppose this “shameless” one begets a son and daughters, who are demoralized by your Christianity and marriageism. What then? As a free woman you have a right to live in a “decent neighborhood” — if you can find your ideal in that respect,— but no right to compel any neighborhood, or any individual, to subscribe to your ideas of decency; for in so doing you cease to be a free woman and become a tyrant woman. And, finally, you would have the woman arrested in preference to the man, because, although they are equal in fact of act, you have made her the greatest “nuisance” in your fancy.
Pardon, reader, this is dull, but it discovers a most important principle: An act that can only become an injury through some supplementary and voluntary act of our own is not an invasion.
Just as my neighbor opposite cannot compel me rightfully to share the expense of his lawn-planting because of my delight in it,— the benefit being no benefit except by my own act,— so my Christian friend cannot hold the “shameless creature” responsible for an injury that is only an injury through her own fancy. Suppose that I am not aesthetic, and the lawn is to me a nuisance, and suppose that my friend is not Christian and the “shameless creature” is her admiration,— what then? The lawn and the lady have not changed. If I leave a loaded pistol on my table, and my neighbor comes in and shoots himself with it, can he hold me responsible for the hole in his leg? If I have a savage dog, chained, and my inquisitive neighbor interviews him, with disaster to the cuticle, can he blame me for the bite? Leave the dog, the pistol, and the “shameless creature” alone, and they are all equally harmless; concern yourself with their affairs, and you do so at your own risk. It is obvious, then, that an act is only an invasion where it is necessarily and unavoidably injurious, in the probable course of events, and without any voluntary assistance or cooperation on the part of the one injured.
Here is another problem: “Jake, the newsboy, bathed nude in the river in full view of all the mansions on the esplanade. He was promptly arrested for the outrage.”
But the outrage was in the arrest. Jake had a right to be clean, a right to bathe, a right to such dress, or undress, as pleased him. Nothing in his behavior was necessarily injurious, unless something was added to it by the one injured. To be sure, the dwellers on the esplanade were shocked. Old women in caps fainted, and old women in whiskers muttered “Comstock”; maids who were prudes blushed, and maids who were prurient peeped and giggled; but it must be confessed that a back town in Turkey would have been equally aghast at the undraping of a lady’s nose. And there were three remarkable exceptions: Miss Palette, the artist, sat down with innocent enthusiasm and sketched the happy vandal; Dr. Cerebrum was inspired to write an article for the “Popular Science Monthly” on “The Sanitary Value of Sun, Air, and Water Baths for the Poor”; and Prof. Ideal fell into a profound and delightful reverie upon the Golden Age, Greek art, and the Renaissance. Art, Science, and Philosophy were not offended, but Convention and Christian Morality had fits. Jake, I acquit you; but — go and bathe with your breeches on hereafter, for it was said by one of old time that a prophet had no honor in his own [time and] country.
“Suppose that in Anarchy a majority of city residents pave a street, on which other residents, not sharers of the cost, choose to travel. These latter wear out pavements they have not paid for, and so destroy property without compensation, and get something for nothing, which is injustice. You will be obliged either to forbid these non-cooperators to travel your streets, or you must tax them with a share of the cost.”
Neither. One of the most fundamental rights is the right of free travel, in any direction, and with as much directness as is reasonable and consistent with the necessary occupancy and cultivation of the major part of Earth’s surface. The public streets do not belong to any one man; neither are they the communistic property of all; they are like the wilderness, unpossessed except at the moment of using. If I lay a book down in the street, I may go and recover it, for it is my property; but if the foot of a pedestrian has defaced it, I can call for no compensation, for the road is for travel, and everything in it may be travelled on; nevertheless, on the other hand, if I fell a tree into the street, I may be compelled to remove it, and pay all damages, for the road is for travel, and must not be obstructed. If I lay a paving stone in the street instead of a book, it is with it as with the book, anyone who goes that way may travel on it; for the road is for travel. I may put what I please in the street at my own cost, for the road, being nobody’s, is as much mine as anybody’s; but anybody may travel on what I put there, for the road was left to promote the liberty of travel, and to make any man pay for improvements made in the road before he can travel is to obstruct the liberty of travel,— is to be an invader. Howbeit I may make private roads, competing with, but not obstructing, the public roads, as many as I please, and take toll from all willing to pay it.
“The right to travel being so sacred, you cannot, in Anarchy, prevent a sick traveller from scattering germs, or in any way establish quarantine.”
Why not? In the order of liberty superior rights necessarily take precedence of inferior ones, and the most fundamental right is the right to live,— the right of self-defence. A man has a right to travel, but if his traveling, necessarily, in the probable course of events, will bring sickness and perhaps death to me, I am justified in stopping it till I feel safe. A man whose traveling is a necessary peril to others is not traveling at his own expense,— is not fulfilling the necessities of equal liberty. Certainly a justifiable quarantine does not invade liberty.
“A exposes whiskey for sale, and tempts young men by various devices to go to his saloon and drink. He should be prohibited.”
Not so. The tempter can do no injury except by the willing cooperation of the tempted; the injury is not a necessary or unavoidable one; therefore the right to tempt, which is one branch of the right of free expression and communication of ideas, must be kept inviolate. But the tempter has no right to obtrude his temptation upon the unwilling to be tempted. I have a right to prohibit his tempting me, just as I have a right to prohibit all non-defensive acts toward me. I can always refuse to heed, and to compel me to listen is to go beyond temptation,— is utter invasion.
Temptation never can be prohibited by law; it can only be made, at the most, infrequent and secret; and the infrequent and secret temptation is the more dangerous, because the law has taken the place of moral courage as a defender. There must be free competition between temptation and contemptation, between persuasion and refusal, vice and virtue, folly and wisdom, the rum-seller and the total abstainer, the prostitute who sells mock love for coin and the soul-sweet woman who loves because she loves.
And we must trust Liberty as we hope for happiness.
J. Wm. Lloyd.
J. K. Ingalls, the well-known pioneer in land reform and author of “Social Wealth,” announces a course of Industrial Economy Lectures, dealing with the questions of land, money, credit, competition, and cooperation. The terms are ten dollars for the course and one dollar for a single lecture. Mr. Ingalls and his wife, Mrs. O. H. F. Ingalls, live at Glenora, Yates Co., New York, one of the most healthy and picturesque spots on Seneca Lake, and parties who would like, not only copies of the lectures, but oral illustration thereof, can get good board and rooms at the Ingalls home at reasonable rates. This is an unprecedented opportunity for students of economic problems to acquire valuable knowledge, benefit their health, and pass a delightful summer.
George Standring’s friends have come gallantly to his rescue, and his paper, the London “Radical,” will therefore continue to appear monthly. The June number contains a sketch of Félix Pyat’s life by his former secretary, Jules Magny, which is accompanied by a portrait of Pyat admirably well executed and printed. Facts given in the sketch regarding Pyat’s youth indicate that the character of Camille in the “Rag-Picker” is drawn largely from the author’s own life.
Children and Liberty. *
If I had said, “I do not feel that it is a blessing to a woman to bear children the conditions of whose life some other will can control,” would Mr. Warren feel more in agreement with me? The word control may have carried an idea which it does not convey to my own mind. I can think of no other way to express the establishing and defining, by the mother for the child, of those limitations which fate sets for us all. Little Frank might throw a hundred dollar gold piece from the boat into the water. There is quite strength enough in his little hands and ignorance enough in his little mind to make that a possibility. If he does it, Ellen is one hundred dollars less rich, for herself and him. Her nerve and strength not being quantities of unlimited elasticity, she can replace neither that amount of money nor what that money would procure.
I admit the right of every one to protect himself against all invasion, even that of children. If the gold piece had been snatched from Mr. Brown’s hand instead of from Ellen’s, certainly the stranger has the right to rescue his own. What I wish to secure for Ellen is such control of Frank’s destiny while he is a child that, if she deems Mr. Brown’s method rough or cruel, the little one need not again be subjected to his influence.
The limitation, as Mr.Warren calls it, to the sovereignty of the individual seems to me not a limitation. It is simply saying: If liberty is to be universal, it must be equal. If my liberty extends beyond yours, it is invasion. If I do something at your cost, you are no longer free. Now, a child can do almost nothing at its own cost. And if Ellen gives Frank liberty to do anything, at whatever cost to her, she is making of herself a slave, and of him a tyrant; not at first an intentional tyrant, but a real one, nevertheless. And it is often difficult to determine when a child who has constant opportunities to practise tyranny begins to be a willing master.
And again, something else has to be considered in reference to children besides the protection of others against invasion. We must first rescue the child from self-invasion until he is old enough to understand what self-destruction means. Frank must be kept from throwing himself from the window, from putting pins in his mouth, from in any way directly endangering his life or even indirectly doing so by anything which may affect his health. Ellen could claim no altruistic motive in this care. The child’s life is at present more to her than to him.
All this involves a frequent restraining the child in many natural impulses, simply because many of our natural impulses are from a very early age at war with our best interests. And this function of restraint and guidance, and the choice of the theory of life and conduct upon which it is to be based, should fall, it seems to me, except in very sudden emergencies, exclusively upon the mother as the guardian and sustainer of the child and at whose cost the child exists.
I think it is not true that children are sovereign from the moment of birth. The difficulty and perplexity of this question about the rearing of children springs from the fact that a child is not an individual and yet is daily becoming one; and that it does not become one at some definite and unvarying period, take a leap into individuality, but grows into that estate. But, if Ellen is an enthusiastic lover of liberty and believer in the sovereignty of the individual, she will check herself more and more, as the years go on, in her interference with the child’s wishes. She will appeal to his reason just as fast as there is any evidence of the existence of reason in his mind. She will most studiously and carefully assist his reason. While restraining him,— by force, if need be,— she will explain to him the motives for this restraint even before he can comprehend them, that the words which are at first almost meaningless may the more quickly acquire meaning from their iteration. She will carefully warn him against little dangers, and yet permit him to expose himself to them, that he may learn by experience what her words can never teach. Herbert Spencer’s illustration of the child playing with the candle seems to me an admirable instance of the ideal course to be followed in education.
* See A. Warren’s communication on the seventh page.
Equity in Love.
To the Editor of Liberty:
Zelm’s ideal reads almost like mine: “Independent men and women, in independent homes, leading separate and independent lives, with full freedom to form and dissolve relations, and with perfectly equal” and equitable “opportunities to happiness, development, and love.”
The difference seems trifling, yet without equity her beautiful ideal would be sterile. That Zelm does not fully appreciate equity is shown by the meekness of her computation, in assuming the costs of maternity and the rearing and educating of children, obligingly assigning to men the role of a drone in a bee-hive. It will never do to encourage sexual robbery by favoring lady-killing and female infatuation; we must not forget that we are laying a foundation for pure and unalloyed equity, which cannot compromise with iniquity. Those who have studied Anarchistic cooperation know that sexual relations may be as equitable and self-adjusting as other relations, by the provision of a special fund, raised by voluntary contributions, to pay the costs of maternity and childhood; said fund constituting a restraining balance-wheel by throwing the costs of sexual invasion and folly upon their propagators, by the wronged parties refusing to support them.
Intelligent men cannot afford indifference in matters of education, which does not mean the perpetuation of our hobbies through children, whose education should be free and who should be allowed to educate themselves, the task of their educators consisting chiefly in supplying subjects for study, selected with impartiality.
Truly yours, James Thierry.
Laramie City, Wyoming, June 3,1888.
The Rights of Babies.
In determining the rights of classes of persons, there is but one standard that will bear radical criticism, and that is the absolute sovereignty of each individual. It is true that few, if any, of even the most radical, have yet practically attained to this standard. Even the great apostles of freedom, Warren and Andrews, adopted it only with the limitation, “Each at his own cost”; as though a square circle or a limited sovereignty could be consistently conceived. Since the retirement of those noble pioneers, I have been watching for the advent of a leader brave enough to stand squarely on the apex of their work, and insist on the sovereignty without the restriction; but so far my watching has been in vain. If such a position has been consistently held, the fact has not come to my knowledge. A goodly number have approached very near it, and none nearer, perhaps, than the editor of Liberty. Some of these, with him, go so far as to be satisfied with no word short of Anarchy, to express their superlative position. They want no government, at all; which, indeed, seems quite radical enough,— seems to mean absolute freedom for every human being. I will admit, for the present, that it does mean that; but do they so construe it in the affairs of every-day life? Has any one ever even pretended to make the principle universal in practice?
I have been led to utter this criticism by the appearance in Liberty, No. 126, of “A Reply to Victor,” which Mr. Tucker very cordially and unqualifiedly endorses. Zelm has come nearer, I think, than almost any other writer to a consistent application of the principle in the sexual realm. She (I take Zelm to be a woman) has expressed my thought on that subject better than I myself have yet been able to do, except upon one point. As to this one point, without depreciating the many beautiful truths of her article, I wish to enter a protest. In her sensitiveness to the needs and aspirations of true womanhood, she has, I think, overlooked the needs and rights of children. I credit her with overlooking these. She was not thinking of the rights of children. Her soul went out, just then, to the mother only. I am sure that, when she comes to turn her attention to this branch of the subject, she will agree with me.
If freedom is to be universal, children are sovereign from the moment of birth. If not, then who shall say when their freedom shall begin? But if the child is sovereign, the mother can have no authority to control it, any more than can any other person. Zelm Bays: “Except in those cases where the mother has been left a widow, she has never known what it was to have what she had purchased.” Too true; but what was it that she bargained for? “I do not feel that it is a blessing to a woman to bear children whom she can not control,” says Zelm. This is the point I wish to examine.
I do not deny the right of the mother to control her child. This is included in her individuality; but it is not her exclusive right. It belongs to the father also, and to everybody else. The right to control children is not different from that to control adults. It is not derived from motherhood or fatherhood; and it is not a commodity that can be purchased on any condition whatever. Neither is it based on any idea of benefit to the governed. It is simply a prerogative of sovereignty. There is but one question as to controlling others, or attempting such control, and that is, “Will it pay?” To this question the answer is not a constant quantity; and this is why I am not an Anarchist. I am in favor of government wherever there is need of government. I do not see that government is necessarily a denial of individual freedom. If all could agree to respect one another’s sovereignty, then government would be useless, but until we come to this agreement, I shall reserve my right to make war, both offensive and defensive. I am in favor of promoting this agreement, and exemplifying it in practical life, so as to render all government unprofitable just as rapidly as possible; and I think we can do this in no way with better effect than in our treatment of children. Let the little ones understand, from the first, that you respect their individuality, and have no selfish desire to control them, and you will win their love and confidence far more effectually, and will enjoy them more exquisitely, than it is possible to do in the old way. Don’t you think so, Zelm?
Wichita Falls, Texas.
A Russian “Privilege.”
[From G. Uspensky’s sketches of peasant life in Severny Vestnik.]
When I asked him where he was going and with what end in view, he said:
“Oh! I don’t know that. First of all, I have no money at all, and no passport either, though I am called upon to pay my tax-bill.”
This mention of the tax was so out of keeping with the nature of my impressions of the man that it astonished me. He has no money, no passport, and does not know where he is going; he has no tobacco, no hat, no clothes to speak of,— and yet here are taxes!
“But what are you paying for?” I inquired, in my astonishment.
“I pay for two souls!”
“Just as I stand!”
“So you must have some land?”
“No. I pay for not having land.”
And he added by way of explanation:
“It is best to pay in this manner. . . If we had to pay for the land, we could not get along. . . As it is, Heaven be blessed! . . .”
“You prefer to pay your tax without accepting your allotment?” I asked, uncertain whether I really understood him. “Very much so.”
“Hold on. You mean that you part of your own free will with your right to the land while paying taxes on it?”
“But why so? Couldn’t you rent your land to somebody, if you cannot use it yourself?”
“Oh! but it is nothing but swamp,” said he triumphantly. “Nobody would take it.”
“Swamp! Well, don’t use it then. But why not hold it? It can do you no harm.”
“God help those who have anything to do with such land!” “Well, don’t have anything to do with it; but why not keep it? Something may turn up to make it advantageous.”
“But, you see, if I hold the land, I am regarded as one of the Mir, and am compelled to do everything that is required of active members of the commune. I should have to pay for the highway, the maintenance of police, and a number of other things. As it is, I buy my immunity by agreeing to pay the tax on two souls and leaving the land to the Mir. I pay my tax, and then I am care-free and can do as I like. You see now?”
Parentage and Function of Politics.
The progressive nature of man causes spoliation to develop resistance, which paralyzes its force, and knowledge, which unveils its impostures. But spoliation does not confess herself conquered; she only becomes more crafty, and, enveloping herself in the forms of government and in a system of checks and counterpoises, she gives birth to politics, long a prolific resource. We then see her usurping the liberty of citizens the better to get hold of their wealth, and draining away their wealth to possess herself more surely of their liberty. Private activity passes into the domain of public activity. Everything is transacted through functionaries and an unintelligent and meddling bureaucracy overspreads the land. The public treasury becomes a vast reservoir into which laborers pour their savings, to be immediately distributed among placemen. Transactions are no longer regulated by free bargaining and discussion, and the mutuality of services disappears. In this state of things the true notion of property is extinguished, and every one appeals to law to give his services a fictitious value.
The True Meaning of Laissez Faire.
When we assert that men’s interests are harmonious, when we thence conclude that they naturally tend and gravitate towards the realization of relative equality and general progress, it is surely from the play and action of the laws governing human transactions, not from their perturbations and disturbances, that we educe harmony. When we say laissez faire, we surely mean, allow these laws to act, not, allow them to be disturbed. According as we conform to these laws or violate them, good or evil is produced; in other words, men’s interests are in harmony provided right prevail and services are freely and voluntarily exchanged against services. Does this imply that we lose sight of, or approve, the efforts which have been made in all ages, and are still being made, to alter by force or fraud the natural equivalence of services? This is exactly what we repudiate as a violation of the natural social laws, as an attack upon property,— for, in our view, the terms, free exchange of services, justice, liberty, security, property, all express the same idea under different aspects.
Power for Power’s Sake.
[Emile Zola in “His Excellency Eugéne Rougon.]
Without, frightened France was silent. The emperor, in summoning Rougon to power, wanted examples. He knew Rougon’s iron hand; on the day after the attempted assassination, he had said to him, in his wrath of a saved man: “No moderation! you must make yourself feared!” And he had just armed him with that terrible law of general safety, which authorized banishment to Algeria or expulsion from the empire of every individual condemned for a political offence. Although no French hand had been steeped in the crime of the Rue Le Peletier, republicans were to be ferreted out and exiled; this meant the removal at one sweep of ten thousand suspected persons who had been forgotten on the Second of December. They talked of a movement set on foot by the revolutionary party; it was given out that arms and papers had been seized. Since the middle of March three hundred and eighty exiles had been shipped from Toulon. Now, every week, a convoy started. The country trembled, in the terror which reeked, like storm-vapor, from the green velvet office in which Rougon laughed all alone as he stretched himself.
Never had the great man tasted such contentment. He was in fine condition and growing fat; health had come back to him with power. When he walked, he buried his heels heavily in the carpet, that the weight of his steps might be heard in the four corners of France. It was his desire to be unable to set his empty glass upon a table, to lay down his pen, to make a motion, without giving a shock to the country. It amused him to be a source of terror, to forge the thunderbolt in the presence of his admiring friends, to rain blows upon a people with his swollen fists of an upstart bourgeois. He had written in a circular: “Let the good be reassured; none but the wicked need tremble.” And he played his role of God, damning some, saving others, with a jealous hand. An immense pride took possession of him; the idolatry of his force and intelligence turned into a formal worship. He treated himself to feasts of superhuman enjoyment.
In the sudden growth of the men of the second empire Rougon had always proclaimed authoritarian opinions. His name stood for the extremity of repression, the denial of all liberties, absolute government. Consequently nobody deceived himself on seeing him become premier. Nevertheless, to his intimate friends, he made confessions; he had needs rather than opinions; he found power too desirable, too necessary to his appetite for domination, to refuse it, no matter what the condition on which it might be offered. To govern, to set his foot on the neck of the crowd,— that was his immediate ambition; the rest was simply a matter of secondary circumstances, to which he could always accommodate himself. His sole passion was to be superior. Only, at the present hour, the circumstances under which he reentered politics doubled his joy at his success; from the emperor he held entire liberty of action, thus realizing his old desire to drive men with the lash, as he would a herd. Nothing delighted him more than to feel that he was detested. Then, sometimes, when he was branded between the shoulders with the name of tyrant, he smiled and said these profound words:
“If some day I should become liberal, they will say that I have changed.”
Not Public, But Private Works.
A Memphis writer says: “The secret of England’s great power among nations, her ability to span oceans and link continents, lies, after all, more in the liberality with which public works are conducted than in force of arms. The arts of peace are as ably employed as those of war.” Nevertheless there is not a commercial harbor in Great Britain which has not been improved by an incorporated company, contrary to the plans of all the paternal governments elsewhere, precisely as there is not a life-boat station on the British coast which is not an establishment under local control and supported by voluntary subscriptions, and yet there is no country so well supplied with harbors and life-saving apparatus.
As Usual, Protection Only for the Rich.
One of the peculiar arguments of the copyright men is that the bill will not affect the price of any volume which has been printed. In other words, if “piracy” has been practised for one day or for years, piracy of the same thing may go on. If there were any justice in the bill, it would stop piracy if of six months’ or six years’ duration. The bill does not really guard the alleged natural copyright of a poor foreign author. It allows any publisher to pirate the works of all authors who are not rich enough to invest a considerable sum in printing in this country or famous enough to get some American publisher to do so for them.
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.