“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 man can have no more despicable enemies than those who, pretending to be his “warm friends and admirers,” make their praise the vehicle of insidious attempts to injure or belittle him in others’ eyes.
A. B. Westrup’s lecture on “The National Banking System,” begun in this issue, was given in Chicago, in reply to Banker Lyman B. Gage’s defence of that system at one of the “Economic Conferences” held in that city, and made a marked impression.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox is credited with this remark: “The chivalry of the average man consists in protecting a woman against every man save himself.” And the men-made laws for “protecting” women protect them against sexual abuse from every man except their “legal” husbands. Now the question suggests itself: Is the law such because of man’s alleged notion of chivalry, or are the men made brutally egotistic by the evil effect of the law? Whatever the answer, abolition of legal marriage is necessary for the elevation of sexual relations.
The Socialistic municipality of St. Etienne, France, has abolished the common grave to which heretofore have been consigned all bodies buried at the public expense. Why those whose dearest wish is to institute Communism in everything this side the grave should object to it in the grave itself is incomprehensible to an Anarchist. One would suppose that, if Communism must be accepted at all, it would be found less intolerable than anywhere else in the common dust of earth to which we all return. But it seems to be the aim of the Communists and State Socialists to destroy all individuality that exists and make a pretence of it after it has gone,— to murder men and worship their ghosts.
To Edward Atkinson’s perfectly sound argument that the present accumulation of money in the United States treasury does not constitute a surplus revenue, inasmuch as there are $250,000,000 of demand notes outstanding against the United States for the payment of which no provision has been made, Henry George’s “Standard” makes answer by asking if any private corporation would “ever acknowledge that it had any surplus revenue if it possessed an unlimited power of levying taxes on sixty odd millions of people.” If Mr. Atkinson were not as blind as Mr. George himself to the wickedness of this power of taxation, he would doubtless retort with the question: “Would any highwayman ever acknowledge that he had any surplus revenue if he possessed an unlimited power of robbing travellers with impunity?”
A California friend sends me a copy of the “Weekly Star” of San Francisco containing an article which, if a tenth part of it be true, shows that city and State to be under the pestilent control of a band of felons. At the end of the article, the writer, regardless of the fact that this state of things is the direct outgrowth of the government of man by man, proposes to add to the powers of this government the exclusive management of the telegraph system, of the banking system, and of corporate enterprises, as well as a vast new field of judicature. To this political servant who has not even the grace to hide in the earth the talent entrusted to him, but insists on using it as a scourge upon mankind, the editor of the “Weekly Star” says: “Thou hast been un faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things.” I am not surprised to find from another column of the same paper that the editor looks upon Anarchists as pestilent mischief-makers and noisy blatherskites.
Abram Hewitt, who was elected mayor of New York in 1886 to “save society,” now confesses, not only that he has failed to save it, but that there is no hope for it in the old method of salvation. It is impossible to be honest in administering public affairs in New York without destroying forever one’s chances of political advancement. No one is more bitterly persecuted than an official who tries to fulfill his duty and refuses his sanction to the all-pervading rascality. In making these charges Mayor Hewitt seems to imagine himself superior to and more virtuous than his brother “saviours,” but when he says that he was well aware of this prior to his nomination and election, and only accepted office because, having entertained no political ambition, he had no occasion to fear possible regrets, he really proves himself to be far worse than the rest.
The striking Anarchistic definitions of the many familiar things given elsewhere in the paper under the heading “From the Dictionary of the Future,” are reproduced from the K. of L. paper, “Journal of United Labor,” where they appeared together with many others (of an indifferent nature), without a word of reference or explanation, under another caption. I take it that no editor or contributor or supporter of that paper is to be suspected of being the guilty father of these heretical definitions. Supposing them to be the illegitimate offspring of some wretch as shameless and remorseless as those who write for the atheistic and Anarchistic organs, I still cannot account for their reproduction in such a devout and “conservative” organ as the “Journal of United Labor.” To say nothing of seriously countenancing such blasphemous treatment of the sacred institutions of government, marriage, taxation, etc. (which would be simply the most heinous of offences), even to smile at such profanity is unpardonable and impossible in a truly moral and religious soul. Let the “Journal” hasten to explain and apologize, or there will be a damaging doubt thrown upon its innocence.
At last the New York “Truth Seeker” has declared for Anarchy. It says editorially: “There is altogether too much of this ‘paternal guidance’ spirit manifested today, and the newspapers are among the chief sinners. The women make rules for the children, the men enact laws to govern the women, the educational boards assume the right to teach us religion at public expense, the Prohibitionists want to manage our stomachs, the churches desire to control our actions on Sundays and our beliefs on all days, the municipal government won’t let us hang a sign on our own premises, most States won’t let us denounce the Bible, the federal government makes laws to regulate the morality of our reading, and the ‘Brooding Buddhas’ of the ‘great’ daily newspapers superintend the whole lot. The poor, weak individual, as Bill Nye would describe him, stands a mighty poor chance of doing anything of his own volition. The present tendency is diametrically opposed to Jefferson’s clearly stated doctrine that that government is best which governs least, but, instead, regards that government best which governs most. Let’s get back to Jeffersonian principles and let every body alone until he or she injures some one in person, property, or reputation.” This is Liberty’s platform exactly. I hope the “Truth Seeker” will have consistency and intelligence enough to advocate voluntary taxation for the maintenance of the institutions necessary to properly punish crime (injury of person, property, or reputation), and Lysander Spooner’s ideas of conducting trials of alleged criminals.
Anarchy’s Surprising Growth.
[New York Letter In Galveston News.]
It is a singular fact that, if you pin Most down to what he really believes,— or rather what he thinks that he can support by argument,— you will find it to be the doctrine which is really making the most important progress in this country,— namely, individualism. Mr. Benjamin E. Tucker of Boston, the great apostle of scientific Socialism in this country, is at sword’s points with Most and Most with him, but for all that the editor of “Freiheit” has always fallen back very nearly to Tucker’s position in his conversations with the writer, although he will inconsistently advocate the most utterly diverse notions. It is scientific Socialism — Anarchy properly so-called — that is making real headway. It is to be found among doctors, among lawyers, among journalists, and even in the pulpit. It would surprise anybody to know how many intelligent people refrain from voting because they disbelieve in government. But these cannot be counted because there is no organization of them. The main fact about them is that they are men and women of powerful and well-trained minds.
From the Dictionary of the Future.
Law — A trap baited with promise of profit or revenge.
Lawyers — The heirs of intestates.
Taxes — Periodical bleeding as prescribed by government.
Debt — The example set by a Government to its people.
Prison — An oven, into which society puts newly-made crime to harden.
Army — A body of men kept a thousand days to be used on one.
Family — Matrimony doing penance.
Jealousy — The homage paid by inferiority to merit.
Success — A veneering that can hide all baseness.
From yonder gilded minaret
Beside the steel-blue Neva set,
I faintly catch, from time to time,
The sweet aerial midnight chime —
“God save the Tsar!”
Above the ravelins and the moats
Of the grim citadel it floats;
And men in dungeons far beneath
Listen, and pray, and gnash their teeth —
“God save the Tsar!”
The soft reiterations sweep
Across the horror of their sleep,
As if some demon in his glee
Were mocking at their misery —
“God save the Tsar!”
In his Red Palace, over there,
Wakeful, he needs most hear the prayer.
How can it drown the broken cries
Wrung from his children’s agonies? –
“God save the Tsar!”
Father they called him from of old —
Batyushka! . . . . How his heart is cold!
Wait till a million scourged men
Rise in their awful might, and then —
God save the Tsar!
Socialist Economics and the Labor Movement.
By Victor Yarros
At this juncture a highly important and fundamental question formulates itself in our mind:
Since, as we are told with great stress, nothing more is needed for the complete pacification and harmonization of social antagonisms than an increase of wealth, through utilization of perfected methods of production; since, further, such an increase through such agencies is not only possible, but inevitable, in the natural development of industrial activity; and since, finally, the claims of capital to reward, in the shape of rent, interest, and profits, are perfectly legitimate and equitable, and in no way tend, as Socialists would have us believe, to clog or obstruct the wheels of production and exchange,— why, then, are those wheels obstructed? What is the cause of our disorders, and where is the source of the mysterious influences that have such a depressing and deplorable effect on our material relations? In a word, why do not Mr. Gunton’s desiderata actually take place,— that is, why is not machinery introduced, hours of labor shortened, and well-being progressively raised and extended?
Much importance is attributed, as we have seen, in the book to the desires, demands, and claims of the workers. Surely, then, on this side there need be no resignation to their lot and sheepish submission to and acceptance of things as they are? Who can say that labor lacks enthusiasm, energy, confidence or perseverance? We have had, one would think, enough of agitation and clamor for higher pay, shorter hours, better treatment, and many other things, to cause the capitalist to fulfill his part of Mr. Gunton’s programme. Why, then, does not practice correspond to theory, and why are not the aims of labor organizations achieved and their demands satisfied?
To this question Mr. Gunton somewhat tardily gives an answer which caps the climax of absurd misunderstanding of economic progress everywhere manifest in the book. “The trouble is . . . . due to mistaken conceptions of the laws of economic relations.” “The inverted notions of economic movement . . . have naturally led to a mistaken and most uneconomic industrial policy.” “Having adopted the European industrial policy, born of a one-eyed political economy . . . we have made as much of him [the laborer] as possible as a producer and as little as possible as a consumer.” How very simple! Because employers have governed themselves, both negatively and positively, by the false teachings of political economists, we are in the midst of industrial war and confusion. But as soon as we succeed in refuting the fallacious reasoning of the one-eyed theorists, and convince capital and labor of the identity of their interests, of the harmony of their ultimate aims, and of the necessity of their friendly coöperation in increasing wealth and general well-being, we insure a complete reversal of the economic policy and lay the solid foundation for a new condition in which, instead of the “Progress and Poverty” of the past, we shall behold “Wealth and Progress” hand in hand.
Certainly the stupidity of a man who thus views industrial history is not of the common sort; natural ignorance alone could not give birth to such a brilliant piece of insanity. Rousseau is outdone. The fantasy of human individuals coming together to institute a social compact becomes the dullest invention of a commonplace mind beside the idea that capitalists, employers, and captains of industry of today, in pursuing their economic policy, deliberately follow distinct and definite instructions elaborated for their guidance by theoretical economists. Really, we can almost imagine how the affair was conceived and accomplished. One fine morning, some centuries ago, wealthy owners of all kinds of property, disgusted with the ennui and monotony of caste life and desirous of inaugurating a new era in history, met to consult as to the best mode of production. Invitations having been sent to all learned men of the time, they turned out in full force. The men of wealth laid their case before the men of brains, and the latter disinterestedly considered it. As a result of that conference the capitalistic system came into the world, and the modern relations between capital and labor, work and wealth, are the direct practical application of the theories and axioms of the political economy expounded at that remarkable gathering. “Profits rise as wages fall,” was the central truth of the science, and the enterprising gentlemen who, weary of the feudal system, had determined to make history and create new conditions of life, learned and remembered that truth, and since then have governed their actions in strict accordance therewith. They endeavor to grind the laborer down and keep him at the lowest level, that their profits may be high; they oppose every attempt on his part at bettering his condition, seeing in it a menace to their own prosperity and supremacy; and as a consequence of this we have what is called the social problem. Now history is to repeat itself. A new political economy must be created and spread among the wealthy who stand at the helm of things. They must be taught that profits and wages rise and fall together; that their interests are identical with those of the poor and portionless; and that they must endeavor to lift those below them if they wish to rise still higher. Happily, however, no new international convention is now required. The trouble and expense are saved by the fortunate and opportune appearance on the horizon of social science of a great genius whose voice is heard from end of the world to the other, and who is rapidly converting all the employers to his teachings. A little time and patience,— and the new ideas will cause a thorough transformation of industrial relations, and the social problem will be no more.
Whatever shadow of reason some may be inclined to detect in Rousseau’s Social Contract, there is no danger of any one not wholly destitute of intelligence sharing Mr. Gunton’s puerile philosophy or endorsing his “science.” Men spoke before they had grammatical rules, and political economy, the grammar of commerce and trade, cannot be responsible for the defects and imperfections of the language of economic facts. Political economy deals with ready facts and actual phenomena, classifying them and explaining their origin, meaning, and tendency. The “classical” economists, while not entirely free from class motives, are nevertheless principally occupied with a scientific consideration and exposition of the fundamental questions of production, consumption, and exchange, in which they have done important and valuable work. The “vulgar” (I am following Marx in thus dividing the economists into “classical” and “vulgar”) economists, on the other hand, simply observe facts, and, in the belief (or rather pretence) that what is is right, put down these facts as fixed and inevitable laws of economic activity. They make the operations of Lombard and Wall streets the data of their “science” and seek to justify them by assumptions and à priori reasoning. They are, so to speak, under contract to turn out polished goods of whatever raw material they are supplied with, and at short notice. Mr. Gunton has performed a similar service. He has reduced to a “science” the ignorant and contradictory schemes of trades unionists and empirical reformers.
Unfortunately for the theorists, the capitalists trouble themselves as little about political economy as they do about the millennial utopias of the antagonists of political economy. They have not the need, desire, or patience to give theoretical economy a moment’s attention. They govern themselves by the necessities of the market and practical lessons of the hour. The investigations of learned economists can have no influence upon the actual conditions of the economic world: that is determined by forces and factors which science can only seek to discover and formulate. It cannot change things that are by advocating change; it simply concerns itself with the how and (partly) with the why. Instead of being the innocent victims of evil-minded and guilty theorists, the capitalists are really responsible for the false and lame and vicious and hypocritical theories that are industriously spread by their willing and pliant tools, the “vulgar” economists. Preaching played no part whatever in the development of the bourgeois economic policy, though it does eminent service now, in befogging the minds of the exploited by sophistry and lies. Capitalists, for the very reason that they desire to hold themselves independent of all codes, scientific or other, are lavish in their reward of those who plead their cause and save them from the wrath of the oppressed multitude. They may even find it convenient to liberally pay those who, like Mr. Gunton, recommend preaching and praying for their own salvation as the remedy for all evils, though none better than they appreciate the childlike and primitive naïveté of those who sincerely advocate this method of salvation.
Once more we are left without an answer to the question why, if there is no inherent antagonism between capital and labor, is not the economic movement orderly, progressive, and harmonious? And this omission entitles us to pronounce without further examination all of Mr. Gunton’s remaining argument as worthless and undeserving of attention. Of what value can be the suggestions and advice of a physician who has shown himself incapable of understanding the nature and the origin of the disease under treatment? A correct and scientific diagnosis of the malady is the first and most important duty devolving upon the social doctor; the remedies are a secondary consideration. Mr. Gunton offers no satisfactory explanation of the cause and growth of the social disease; therefore we are justified in dismissing him as a quack and his remedies as quack-medicine.
For the same reason and in the same manner do we excuse ourselves for not following him into his historical excursions and watching how he demonstrates by recorded facts his deductive reasoning. But it may be well to note that the plot of short-hours agitation and legislation in England, which is made to serve so admirably as an illustration and practical proof of Mr. Gunton’s ideas, is worked out by Marx, in that splendid chapter of his “Capital” entitled “The Working Day,” in a very different manner, and is made to carry a very different lesson. We are inclined to think that in this disagreement Mr. Gunton is as reliable in his matter of fact statements as he is sound in his logic when, in another place, he combats and disproves Marx’s ideas of wages under capitalism by a triumphant reference to an epoch which Marx distinctly characterizes as the eve of the birth of capitalism.
Let us now briefly outline the Socialist view of the present economic situation. Let us glance at the Socialist method of analyzing the social problem and accounting for its origin and development. We invite Mr. Gunton and all others who ride the eight-hours hobby-horse to slowly follow us. They cannot fail to become conscious of the fact that, if the Socialist view of the situation is true and correct, all the talk about shorter hours being any remedy at all is thoughtless and non-sensical and the great expectations founded upon it wholly illusory. They will see that radicals must abandon the eight-hour delusion, and that non-radicals, instead of making and destroying their own men of straw, must attack and destroy the real Socialist position before marching out for new conquests.
The capitalistic system — the system embodying rent, interest, and profits — presupposes the existence of freed and “free” laborers (freed from feudal ties and “free” from the encumbrance of capital and other self-employing means) who depend upon the price of their labor-commodity for existence. The class possessing the means of production will not hire these free laborers and set them to work except with a view of personally profiting by the transaction. In other words, they must be sure of a demand for the product of the hired laborers at a higher price than the cost limit before they enter the field as employers. And it is hardly necessary to add that, once in the field as profit-makers, the employers devote their attention to devising plans of increasing the rate of profit. But, whether great or small, the question is whence comes their profit and who ultimately pays it. Now, it is obvious in the first place that the consumers of the finished article pay the share which is inventoried as profit at the same time that they reimburse the outlay for labor and other items in the cost of production. Who are the consumers? None other than the producers themselves. For there are only classes in society,— the capitalists and wage-laborers. The capitalists being the owners of the manufactured commodities (virtually if not nominally in all cases) are not to be considered as buyers. They say, then, to the laborers: “We consent to employ you on the condition that you pay us for the articles to be created by your labor and put on the market more than the sum total of our expense in producing them. That is to say, one day’s wages shall only buy one-half a day’s products.” The laborer, anxious to sell his labor in order to obtain food, thinks that half a loaf is better than none and accepts the offer. What happens next? The laborers, upon receiving their wages, find that they can get for them only one-half of the articles that their labor throws out. The capitalists are left in the possession of the other half. Whether they are in equity entitled to it or not, the question now is, how do they dispose of it? To what use do they put it? Do they consume it all? If they did, there would not be any “labor problem,” in the distinctive sense in which we now use this expression. There would, to be sure, still be a decided difference in the standard of living and degree of development between the laboring class and the employing class. The latter would enjoy much and produce little or nothing; the former would toil hard and live very poorly. There would be diversity of opinion as to the justice, propriety, and beneficence of such a condition, but there could be no cry of over-production, no complaint of lack of employment for able and willing hands, and no trace of the thousand and one peculiar characteristics of the modern industrial struggle.
Under that system — which was the system of feudalism — we can easily conceive how a plan might be devised whereby both the rich and the poor would be benefited. If Mr. Gunton should prove to the rich that by raising the standard of living of their dependents and permitting them to increase their consumption they would enlarge their own opportunities and ascend still higher in the scale of refinement and luxury, we can understand how they would be induced to act upon his advice. Equality of course could never be attained under such conditions. The poor would improve themselves, but so would the rich; the poor would be allowed to become less poor only that the rich might become more rich. The total wealth would be augmented, and the share of the poor would be increased, but only relatively to their past consumption, not to the proportional division of the total product. They would still consume only half of it, and the other half would still go to their masters. (Economists who meet the protests of the modern laborers by assuring them that they more and better things than the princes and lords of past centuries will please take to heart this truth and see that their irrelevant comparison no longer beguiles anybody.)
With the breaking-up of the feudal relations the material interest of the wealth owners in the laborers ceased. The causes that made serf labor unprofitable and brought about the new order of things severed the last tie between the rich and the poor. The laborers secured freedom at the expense of the necessaries of life. The new methods of production have so increased wealth that the few capitalists no matter how extravagant and wasteful they may be, in what luxuries they may revel, can only consume a small portion of the product left after the laborers’ purse has been exhausted. If production is to continue without interruption, a market away from home must be found for the surplus product. If it is found, the result is the same as would be if the capitalists could themselves consume it. The product would be got rid of in foreign markets as rapidly as it was created without causing the laborers to undergo periods of idleness and starvation. But today, as is well known, even this avenue is almost completely closed. Capitalism being developed in all “civilized” countries, the search for foreign markets is a common need and occupation. Kropotkine shows that “annexation” is the bottom cause and end of modern war. The product cannot all be sold abroad and must largely remain in the home market. This necessitates periodical crises, a stopping of the wheels of production and a throwing out of resourceless laborers into the streets at certain intervals, and a chronic malady of relative over-production. The capitalistic system is thus characterized by suffering at once from abundance and scarcity,— over-production and under-consumption. The laborers are perpetually starving, and the capitalists have more goods than they know what to do with.
In view of this situation an individual steps forward with a solution of the dilemma. “Produce more,” he tells the owners of the means of production, “and let your workmen have a little more than you have been in the habit of allotting to them in the past.” Is it necessary to hear another word from him before declaring him a presumptuous ignoramus who has not the faintest glimpse of the situation and who attempts to cure a malady which he does not begin to understand? Even if the proposition could be carried out, it would not effect any change, for, though more would be paid out to the laborers, more would be produced, and the difficulty of finding a market for the surplus product would remain precisely as it is now. But, of course, it is obvious to all reasoning minds that such an increase of production is out of the question. The very causes that have brought about the present stagnation invincibly stand in the way of a revival of industrial activity. If there were a possibility of any such revival, it would actualize itself in the natural course of things.
Doubtless it will occur to those who cannot separate sentimentalism and ethical considerations from economic facts that, as the present system is clearly not only a cannibalistic one so far as it affects the laborers, but a suicidal one so far as the capitalists themselves are concerned, and that since it is plainly to the interest of the capitalists to end this ominous and threatening condition and avert the certain catastrophe by removing its cause,— the under-consumption of the laborer — all that is needed to insure prompt action is to show the capitalists that their own security and prosperity demand that they return to the laborer all that is left of the total product after their own consumption is abundantly supplied. Let the capitalists keep enough of it to satisfy every conceivable desire and indulge every taste and whim, but let them surrender all the rest to the laborers. Then there will always be a “home market,” and the evils of over-production will be unknown. The question as to the equity of the shares may be settled at leisure; we shall, at least, have guaranteed work and bread to all.
Truly, a desirable and rational plan. Indeed, of what use to the capitalist is the surplus product which he withholds from the laborer and cannot consume himself? Why continue to play the dog in the manger? Let him recognize the importance of the laborer as consumer as well as producer, and adopt a policy which will benefit the laborer without really and materially injuring himself. All that he sanely cares about is the preservation of his comfortable and pleasant mode of living; this, pending a revolution in ethical and social ideas, he can be well assured of, as the laborers, being immensely relieved, would not be likely to press matters further, and would willingly agree to indefinitely postpone the final settlement of the remaining claims. But unfortunately (and, from our standpoint, fortunately) a compromise of such a nature is an impossibility. This scheme might be practicable if there were but one capitalist in opposition to the laborers, or (which is the same thing) if the capitalist class, while arrayed against the laboring class, presented a solid, harmonious, coöperating front; if in their own ranks prevailed peace, order, identity of interests, and unity of purpose. Then it could be shown to them that in a sense and up to a certain point the prosperity of the laborer is a guarantee of their own advancement, and there might be hope of inducing them to view the laborer otherwise than merely as an appendage to machinery in the process of production. But not so now. The capitalists have not for their motto than an injury to one is the concern of all, but that each is for himself. The struggle for existence and supremacy is waged as bitterly and mercilessly in their own camp as it is between them and the laborers. Economic relations not being governed by benevolence or even far-seeing prudence, the capitalist draws no line at which his war with the world ends. On finding himself in a critical condition, with under-paid laborers and without a market for his wares, he, instead of entering into negotiations with the enemy-laborer in front of him, savagely turns upon the one next to him in line. To preserve himself, he attacks a fellow-capitalist, endeavoring to crush him and drive him out of his class. He sees that the quickest way to save himself from ruin and create a greater demand for his own product is to kill a competitor and diminish the number of suppliers. If he succeeds in this, there is no need for him to think about the capacity of the laborers to consume more. No matter how little each individual laborer consumes, provided a large number of such laborers go to him to make their small purchases, he is contented and secure. The individual capitalists seek to escape the evils growing out of their class monopoly by greater concentration of the monopolized wealth. Whatever the ultimate consequences, the necessity for immediate victory compels this course. In war there are victories which are worse than defeats in their indirect results, but those engaged in mortal combat can only think of direct results. Accordingly, the fight amongst the capitalists becomes more and more desperate in proportion as the poverty of the laborers becomes more and more intense.
Is it not the climax of lunacy to expect that a sermon on the subject of the laborer’s capacity for consumption would reach the ears of the fighting hosts and bring the war to a close? And is it not evident that it is equally useless for laborers to expect any substantial concessions from the capitalists?
Socialists know that the present conflict between capital and capital and capital and labor, this three-cornered fight, is the inevitable and direct effect of the inherent and fundamental vice of usury, which dooms the capitalistic system to an early extinction. Because of this knowledge they pronounce all “moderate” measures futile and ridiculous, and regard eight-hours and kindred remedies as about as efficacious as fasting and prayer. Since the malady is not temporary and accidental, the cure cannot be entrusted to the hands of empiricists and quacks. Socialists arrive at the conclusion that usury and equity, capitalism and social order, reward of capital and justice to labor, are mutually exclusive. Consequently they do not flatter, delude, or “pacify” the laborer; neither do they waste any efforts on the humanization of capitalists. They declare that the capitalistic order must be wiped out if the “countless millions” who “mourn” are to wipe their tears and know the joys of life. And all who desire progress without poverty must prepare to bury the whole system of usury forever. Reward of capital has no other source than the exploitation of labor, and such exploitation paralyzes industry and obstracts development. Only when labor alone is rewarded will wages repurchase the total product, and, consumption thus keeping pace with production, the latter will increase practically without limit. And labor, to secure equity, needs freedom, full freedom, and nothing but freedom. Let there be the light and warmth of freedom, and the flower of progress will grow and expand luxuriously. Wealth will keep on multiplying, the proportion of effort to satisfaction will keep on diminishing, and the labor problem of today will disappear, there arising instead the problem of thinking and working humanity in its relation to the blind forces of hostile and unintelligent nature.
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. 127.
Dismiss, I entreat you, all your fears of the sovereignty of the individual. Cherish it rather as the glorious realization of the golden age of the future. Instead of whitewashing Repression, and Reaction, and Martyrdom, and holding them up as things to admire, and love, and fight for, resort to them, if you must, as the unlovely expedients of the bad ages that are past or passing away. Fight for and defend, if you so judge right, as present necessities of the times, the censorship of the press, the police organization of domestic spies upon word and act, the passport system, tariffs, prohibition of divorce, laws regulating the affections of men and women, Maine liquor laws, and the whole system of arbitrary constraint upon individual freedom; but cherish in your heart, nay, proclaim openly, as the ideal, not of a remote, uncertain, and fanciful utopia, but of the imminent, of the actually dawning future, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of locomotion, free trade, freedom of intellectual inquiry, and freedom of the affections. Defend your restrictions upon the only ground upon which they are tolerable; namely, that a temporary enforced order is only the more direct road to the more perfect order of complete freedom. Pursue that road, or any road which in your judgment will bring you fastest and farthest toward universal freedom, or the sovereignty of the individual – not rashly but surely, not inexpediently but expediently, not dangerously but safely, and wisely, and well. It is this freedom which the whole world aspires after. It is the dream of universal humanity, whether men or women. It is the goal of all reformation, and the most sublime and the most beautiful hope of the world.
You refer to my position on the marriage question as well understood. Unfortunately it is not so, and can not be so, if that question is considered by itself. I have no special doctrine on the subject of marriage. I regard marriage as being neither better nor worse than all other of the arbitrary and artificial institutions of society – contrivances to regulate nature instead of studying her laws. I ask for the complete emancipation and self-ownership of woman, simply as I ask the same for man. The “woman’s rights women” simply mean this, or do not yet know what they mean. So of Mr. James. So of all reformers. “The Observer” is logical, shrewd, and correct, when it affirms that the whole body of reformers tend the same way, and bring up sooner or later against the legal or prevalent theological idea of Marriage. It is not, however, from any special hostility to that institution, but from a growing consciousness of an underlying principle, the inspiring soul of the activities of the present age – the sovereignty of the individual. The lesson has to be learned that order, combining with freedom, and ultimating in harmony, is to be the work of science, and not of arbitrary legislation and criminal codes. Let the day come!
Stephen Pearl Andrews.
Mr. Greeley’s Reply to the Foregoing.
Mr. S. P. Andrews:
Let me begin by setting you right respecting my position, on a point where you expressly invite, if not challenge, correction. I never indicated “freedom from State systems of religion” as one of the impulses of our time against which I take my stand. I think you never understood me to do so. Nor do I regard the strong tendency of our time to wild, ultra individualism, as an element of any progress, but that made by Eve at the serpent’s suggestion, Sodom just previous to Lot’s escape from it, Rome just before its liberties were destroyed by Caesar, and others in like circumstances. Admit the legitimacy of egotism, or the selfish pursuit of happiness by each individual, and a government of despotism seems to me a logical and practical necessity. Had the Pilgrim Fathers of American liberty cherished your ideas of the sovereignty of the individual, I have no shadow of doubt that their children would, long ere this, have passed under the yoke of a despotism as rigorous as that of Nicholas or Louis Napoleon. They founded liberty, because they taught and practiced self-denial – the subordination of the individual will and pleasure to the will of God (or, if you please, the common weal) – and thus only, in my judgment, can Liberty ever be founded and perpetuated.
You totally mistake in attributing to me the assertion of the principle of non-intervention between nations, as the principle of peace and harmony. On the contrary, I deplore the absence of competent tribunals to adjudicate questions of international difference, and believe all peaceful, just nations should promptly combine to establish such tribunals. Had such existed in 1846, we must have been spared the waste and the butchery, the guilt and the shame, of our bloody foray on Mexico. How readily all the intrigues and agitations of our day respecting Cuba would be settled by a just international supreme court! So far from rejoicing or acquiescing in its absence, I deplore that circumstance as the great scandal and calamity of Christendom.
The State is to me something other and more than a mob, because I believe that, since justice is all men’s true and permanent interest, the heat of passion or the lust of gain, which too often blind men to the iniquity of their own personal acts, are far less potent in their influence on those same men’s judgment of the acts of others. I believe, for instance, there are two men in the State of New York who are personally licentious for every one who would gladly see libertinism shielded and favored by law. Men who roll vice as a sweet morsel under their tongue, are yet desirous that virtue shall be generally prevalent, and that their own children shall be trained to love and practice it. I do, therefore, appeal to “the State,” or the deliberate judgment of the community, to arbitrate between us, believing that the state properly exists as a “terror to evil-doers and a praise to them that do well,” [Online editor’s note: 1 Peter 2:14. – RTL] and that it not only does, but should, judge and deal with offenders against sexual purity and the public well-being. I think it ought to “suppress,” not the expression of your opinions, but such action as they tend to clothe with impunity; and so far from deprecating their contingent suppression of me, should ever your principles gain the ascendancy, I prefer to be suppressed, for I would not choose longer to live.
“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.
Ergo and Presto!
In Henry George may be seen a pronounced type of the not uncommon combination of philosopher and juggler. He possesses in a marked degree the faculty of luminous exposition of a fundamental principle, but this faculty he supplements with another no less developed,— that of so obscuring the connection between his fundamental principle and the false applications thereof which he attempts that only a mind accustomed to analysis can detect the flaw and the fraud. We see this in the numerous instances in which he has made a magnificent defence of the principle of individual liberty in theory, only to straightway deny it in practice, while at the same time palming off his denial upon an admiring following as a practical affirmation. Freedom of trade is the surest guarantee of prosperity; ergo, there must be perfect liberty of banking; presto! there shall be no issue of money save by the government. Here, by the sly divorce of money-issuing from banking, he seems to justify the most ruinous of monopolies by the principle of liberty. And this is but an abridgement of the road by which he reaches very many of his practical conclusions. His simplicity and clearness as a philosopher so win the confidence of his disciples that he can successfully play the rôle of a prestidigitator before their very eyes. They do not notice the transformation from logic to legerdemain. For a certain distance he proceeds carefully, surely, and straightforwardly by the method of ergo; and then, when the minds of his followers are no longer on the alert, presto! he suddenly shouts, and in a twinkling they are switched off upon the track of error without a suspicion that they are not still bound direct for truth. It is this power to prostitute a principle to the furtherance of its opposite, to use truth as a tool of falsehood, that makes Mr. George one of the most dangerous men among all those now posing as public teachers.
One of the latest and craftiest of his offences in this direction was committed in the “Standard” of June 23, in a discussion of the copyright problem. A correspondent having raised the question of property in ideas, Mr. George discusses it elaborately. Taking his stand upon the principle that productive labor is the true basis of the right to property, he argues through three columns, with all the consummate ability for which credit is given him above, to the triumphant vindication of the position that there can rightfully be no such thing as the exclusive ownership of an idea.
No man, he says, “can justly claim ownership in natural laws, nor in any of the relations which may be perceived by the human mind, nor in any of the potentialities which nature holds for it. . . . Ownership comes from production. It cannot come from discovery. Discovery can give no right of ownership. . . . No man can discover anything which, so to speak, was not put there to be discovered, and which some one else might not in time have discovered. If he finds it, it was not lost. It, or its potentiality, existed before he came. It was there to be found. . . . In the production of any material thing — a machine, for instance — there are two separable parts,— the abstract idea or principle, which may be usually expressed by drawing, by writing, or by word of mouth; and the concrete form of the particular machine itself, which is produced by bringing together in certain relations certain quantities and qualities of matter, such as wood, steel, brass, brick, rubber, cloth, etc. There are two modes in which labor goes to the making of the machine,— the one in ascertaining the principle on which such machines can be made to work; the other in obtaining from their natural reservoirs and bringing together and fashioning into shape the quantities and qualities of matter which in their combination constitute the concrete machine. In the first mode labor is expended in discovery. In the second mode it is expended in production. The work of discovery may be done once for all, as in the case of the discovery in prehistoric time of the principle or idea of the wheelbarrow. But the work of production is required afresh in the case of each particular thing. No matter how many thousand millions of wheelbarrows have been produced, it requires fresh labor of production to make another one. . . . The natural reward of labor expended in discovery is in the use that can be made of the discovery without interference with the right of any one else to use it. But to this natural reward our patent laws endeavor to add an artificial reward. Although the effect of giving to the discoverers of useful devices or processes an absolute right to their exclusive use would be to burden all industry with most grievous monopolies, and to greatly retard, if not put a stop to, further inventions, yet the theory of our patent laws is that we can stimulate discoveries by giving a modified right of ownership in their use for a term of years. In this we seek by special laws to give a special reward to labor expended in discovery, which does not belong to it of natural right, and is of the nature of a bounty. But as for labor expended in the second of these modes,— in the production of the machine by the bringing together in certain relations of certain quantities and qualities of matter,— we need no special laws to reward that. Absolute ownership attaches to the results of such labor, not by special law, but by common law. And if all human laws were abolished, men would still hold that, whether it were a wheelbarrow or a phonograph, the concrete thing belonged to the man who produced it. And this, not for a term of years, but in perpetuity. It would pass at his death to his heirs or to those to whom he devised it.”
The whole of the preceding paragraph is quoted from Mr. George’s article. I regard it as conclusive, unanswerable. It proceeds, it will be noticed, entirely by the method of ergo. But it is time for the philosopher to disappear. He has done his part of the work, which was the demolition of patents. Now it is the prestidigitator’s turn. It remains for him to justify copyright,— that is, property, not in the ideas set forth in a book, but in the manner of expressing them. So juggler George steps upon the scene. Presto! he exclaims: “Over and above any ‘labor of discovery’ expended in thinking out what to say, is the ‘labor of production’ expended on how to say it.” Observe how cunningly it is taken for granted here that the task of giving literary expression to an idea is labor of production rather than labor of discovery. But is it so? Right here comes in the juggler’s trick; we will subject it to the philosopher’s test. The latter has already been quoted “The work of discovery may be done once for all . . . but the work of production is required afresh in the case of each particular thing.” Can anything be plainer than that he who does the work of combining words for the expression of an idea saves just that amount of labor to all who thereafter choose to use the same words in the same order to express the same idea, and that this work, not being required afresh in each particular case, is not work of production, and that, not being work of production, it gives no right of property? In quoting Mr. George above I did not have to expend any labor on “how to say” what he had already said. He had saved me that trouble. I simply had to write and print the words on fresh sheets of paper. These sheets of paper belong to me, just as the sheets on which he wrote and printed belong to him. But the particular combination of words belongs to neither of us. He discovered it, it is true, but that fact gives him no right to it. Why not? Because, to use his own phrases, this combination of words “existed potentially before he came”; “it was there to be found”; and if he had not found it, some one else would or might have done so. The work of copying or printing books is analogous to the production of wheelbarrows, but the original work of the author, whether in thinking or composing, is analogous to the invention of the wheelbarrow; and the same argument that demolishes the right of the inventor demolishes the right of the author. The method of expressing an idea is itself an idea, and therefore not appropriable.
The exposure is complete. But will Mr. George acknowledge it? Not he. He will ignore it, as he has ignored similar exposures in these columns of his juggling with the questions of rent, interest, and money. The juggler never admits an exposure. It would be ruinous to his business. He lies low till the excitement has subsided, and then “bobs up serenely” and suavely to hoodwink another crowd of greenhorns with the same old tricks. Such has been juggler George’s policy heretofore; such it will be hereafter.
The social condition at which you are aiming is all well enough for perfect men and women, but for such as we it will never do. So long as human nature is not more perfect, so long as men are still the slaves of their passions and selfish promptings, so long all your fine talk will be of no avail, so long there must be some awe-inspiring government. Thus runs one of the stereotyped objections of the governmentalists. Although it has been often refuted, it is brought forward again and again both in the press and in private conversation, so that it may perhaps be worth while to consider it once more.
To be sure men are domineering, avaricious, quarrelsome, and imperfect in every way, over-cunning guardians of their own advantages, and incredibly stupid victims of spoliation. That our present State and the social economic system based upon it are excellently well adapted to develop just these very trying and inconvenient human imperfections to a most dangerous point, is known even to the goverinnentalist who has any humanity and eyes to see. But the superstition that everything would be still worse without the scourge of the law is as deeply and firmly rooted as was once that other superstition that all the horrors of future punishment were absolutely necessary for the taming of the human animal. At last, however, we have overcome purgatory and hades; and are we any the worse for it, because this sword of Damocles no longer hovers over our lives with awful threat? On the contrary, even the more intelligent portion of Christianity is now endeavoring to do away with the horror beyond the grave because of its degenerating influence on the living.
Let us examine those of the human frailties most inimical to society, and consider the chances for development that may open up to them in a condition of society devoid of government.
For the domineering spirit there certainly remains but little hope, for it will be a commodity for which there will be no demand. Where governing has come into disrepute, where prominent positions which favor the exercise of arbitrary power are no longer to be filled, how is this most petted child of the State to come to his right? Death from starvation is his only alternative; Anarchy need fear nothing from his impotence.
To avarice, however, with its host of small and great evils, there seems at first sight to be given much freer play. But of this, too, a somewhat closer examination reveals the State as the main support. Without the State no State-protected privileges for property and money, and in the wake of the abolition of interest will follow that of profits and rents. Whoever may then desire to pocket more than the results of his toil, either manual or intellectual, can no longer do so through mere cunning speculation. He must take the trouble to accomplish an actual, unspiritualized feat at burglary or highway robbery, or acquire the legerdemain necessary to pick his neighbor’s pocket in other than the figurative sense. But how much uglier stealing straightway begins to look if it has to be done directly and without legal license. It impairs our esteem among our neighbors, and we do care somewhat for respectability. Among respectable people, then, there will be no stealing even in the absence of intimidating penal law, but there are plenty of people who have not yet arrived at their exalted vantage-ground of respectability, and they will steal and rob and kill without lot or hindrance. Let us see.
Emerson says of California in her pioneer days that she “had the best government that ever existed,” — i. e., none at all.
Pans of gold lay drying outside of every man’s tent, in perfect security. The land was measured into little strips of a few feet wide, all side by side. A bit of ground that your hand could cover was worth one or two hundred dollars, on the edge of your strip; and there was no dispute. Every man throughout the country was armed with knife and revolver, and it was known that instant justice would be administered to each offence, and perfect peace reigned.
“I wish to be excused from the comforts and enjoyments of such a peace,” exclaims many a gentle citizen, who feels a cold chill creep over him at the mention of the words knife and revolver. “I for my part prefer the club of the policeman.” Even if, at the instigation of rich thieves, it clubs down poor laboring men in the most arbitrary manner?
We must bear in mind that the pioneers of California consisted mostly of a rude, adventurous class of people whose chief if not exclusive object was wealth. Is it then in the face of these facts very difficult to think of and hope for an orderly social life without a government and without laws, composed of individuals not passionless and perfect, but of the same erring, faulty type to which we belong, full of anti-social tendencies and self-seeking to the point of invasion, but who will well know how to protect themselves against the encroachments of their fellow-beings on their possessions, their personal safety, their comfort, and their liberty?
Undoubtedly the Anarchistic community will not be wanting in those who will strive to abuse their liberty. Indeed, the probability lies near that every one of us would be liable to become guilty of such abuse in one way or other, but would not our vigilant neighbors be just as liable to resent every transgression? “Do whatever you please,” each one says to the next, “but remember that I have an equal right to do what I please, and that I shall not tolerate your encroachments upon my rights, or your interference with my innocent and unobtrusive enjoyment of life.”
The cost principle which will be the economic basis of the Anarchistic social structure, according to which all values are determined by the time and labor required for their production, and by means of which equity and economic equality will be secured, will in a certain sense be also the regulator of all social relations. “Whatever you may do,” will be the injunction, “do it at your own cost. Dare to endanger in any way intentionally the possessions or the person of your neighbor and bear the inevitable consequences.”
I even claim that it will be less possible to sin against our fellow-beings with impunity than is the case now, and that Anarchists are justified in this conclusion because they take into account human nature as it is. and not because they foolishly assume an improvement in accordance with the supposed Anarchistic ideal. But although they do not presuppose perfect men, they are calmly confident that Anarchistic liberty will develop an intellectually and physically more beautiful and stronger race than any that has ever walked the earth.
Much indeed must be struck from our code of morals which is now registered there as a crime, not because men will have so greatly perfected themselves, but because the offences, if they are offences at all, are of a purely personal character, harming no second person — offences against the laws of Nature, Nature herself will be sure to punish — and objectionable only in so far as they conflict with our conventional prejudices. These prejudices are so great in many minds that the world threatens to go out of joint whim due respect is not paid them, and is only kept together by a code of morals to which obedience can be exacted by State authority.
Perfection in the sense of these prejudices would indeed be an abnormity from which we might well pray to be spared, if there were any danger of ever realizing it. Fortunately in our Anarchistic ideal of the future strife promises to be ever present, and nothing more distant than the stagnation of a world of perfect beings; in it “eternal vigilance will be the price of freedom.”
E. H. S.
Broad and Narrow Partisanship.
It is of course perfectly natural that brave natures should fail to understand or sympathize with the contemptible manoeuvres of cowardice, that upright and honorable natures should be at a loss to account for the mean tricks of low cunning, that frank and sincere natures should be unable to appreciate the unworthy motives of hypocrisy, and that the thoughtful should stare at the movements of the stupid. Being a hater of sham and chicanery, I have often had to wonder at the conduct of Socialists, and have never been able to explain why so much bigoted ignorance, malice, and dishonesty is publicly displayed by them in their treatment of Anarchistic opponents. Even the blindest and narrowest partisanship cannot account for the total loss of all idea of self-respect and common decency, much less partisanship of a broad nature.
In a certain sense, I am a partisan myself, and am rather proud of it than otherwise. I am convinced that those who put on airs and with an assumed superiority for which no real ground is discernible pronounce all those who “label” themselves and fight under a chosen flag unphilosophical and lear-sighted creatures, deserving of condescending attention from cultured and broad-minded people, are simply men without head and heart, “superfluous people,” who have no vital interests to defend and no high needs to gratify. Instead of being philosophical, they are beastly, and, claiming to be the flower of modern progress, are (since extremes meet) on the point of returning to the condition at which intellectual development began. To live in the present state of social existence is to act, fight, move, and do; and of course one cannot be a fighter and worker without being a partisan. The question only is, To which party one ought to belong,— to that of the future, of human advancement, or to that of reaction, darkness, and barbarism.
But while I deem it absolutely unavoidable for the true and enlightened man to become a partisan of process, I do not see that anything more is required of him. Nay, it is a violation of true manliness to go farther and become a bigot and zealous watchdog of a clique. That a good lover must also be a good hater is true enough, but there is too much in this world that justly merits hate to excuse unjust and improper abuse.
Difference of opinion is no legitimate ground for bitterness and malicious persecution. Honest motives and nobility of purpose entitle a man to respect under all circumstances. Cooperation may be impossible where fairness and mutual regard are not only entirely possible, but obligatory on all self-respecting persons. The Socialists are extremely deficient in the virtues of fairness and sobriety, and no one suffers therefrom more than they themselves and their own cause.
A case in point: The “Hammer,” official organ of the Metal Workers’ Union, thus speaks (howls, rather) of that class of revolutionists known as “Anarchistic Communists”:
Their cry of “decentralization” and “anarchism” was raised for the first time when incompetent, muddle-headed, and dishonest Bakounine was unable to rule the International Workingmen’s Association; when he saw that he could not wrench the staff of leadership from the hands of the immortal Karl Marx and honest Fred. Engels. Bakounine wanted to rule; and, as he could not do so, he, at least, wanted to ruin what the centralizationists, in their wisdom, foresight, and experience, had keen working for years to build up. And, to this very day, all other ignorant, incompetent, muddle-headed, and dishonest elements in the labor movement have been imitating the infamous example set them by Michael Bakounine. . . . They are ignorant, incompetent, muddle-headed, and dishonest, and being impelled by the desire to rule, to command, to snake themselves heard, and to boast and brag with their own great importance. . . . Their principal activity consists in bragging, blowing, and howling. They talk about the “propaganda of deeds”; but those “deeds,” so far, have resulted in nothing short of immensely injuring the general movement.
The “Workmen’s Advocate,” the official Socialist organ, reprints these choice sentiments (clothed in such elegant and correct language) with a joy and glee which it has not the propriety even to try to conceal. Yet on sober-minded people the effect of these utterances will be precisely the reverse of what the utterers intended. Ravings are never mistaken for calm and serious judgments, and he who shows too much eagerness to injure another frequently succeeds in becoming the first victim of the wrath of those he incited against the other. Instead of discrediting Bakounine, these two mediocrities expose their own littleness. In their violent haste, the two obscure editors could not foresee that the adjectives “ignorant, incompetent, muddle-headed, dishonest,” when employed in describing men with such records as those of Bakounine, Kropotkine, Spies, and Most, would be turned by the judicious reader against those who so employed them with a determination admitting of no reversal or mitigation. The saying that to attempt to prove too much is to prove nothing is true in this case only with the explanation that it is to prove nothing for the pleader, but very much against him.
These people may not be dishonest in the ordinary sense of the word, in the sense in which it is applied continually in the business world, where dollars and cents and kindred narrow interests are involved, but they are certainly dishonest and hypocritical in the interest of their party, religion, and creed. They are Jesuits, and act upon the principle that the end justifies the means. Holding their aim to be sublime and lofty, they do not scruple to use the most foul and degrading means to secure its triumph. Whoever dares maintain a position unfavorable to them is treated as a personal enemy, and, no matter what his motives or reason, is lied about, sneered at, calumniated, and denounced as a vile wretch and an idiot.
Between these two forms or dishonesty, people are apt to judge the second (when not carried too far) mildly and indulgently, discerning in it a mark of altruistic superiority. I, on the contrary, abhor it with all the intensity of which I am naturally capable, and deplore it as the curse of the reform movement. It is another manifestation of that intolerant, religious spirit which has cost mankind so much blood and anguish in the past and which, finding the theological realm no longer sufficient for its satisfaction, possessed itself of the hearts of those “liberal” and heretical crusaders who are engaged in fighting out the living political, social, and economic problems of the day. I have much more hope for a man who is dishonest in pursuit of gain and other “worldly” interests than in one who is base and hypocritical for the sake of “reform.” A reformer who cannot afford to be fair and just to friend and foe has no cause worthy of examination; and a man who is naturally incapable of square dealing is a disgrace and misfortune to a serious movement. I advise the Socialistic journals quoted above to be more careful in the future. Eternal vigilance is the price of influence. If they desire to have weight with (not contempt from) intelligent people, they must learn (be it ever so hard to them) to be sober and sincere and dignified. For “thine own self” have respect, and “it follows” “thou canst, not” fail to command the respect of “any man.”
In the silly speech which Colonel Ingersoll made at an informal session of the Republican convention at Chicago he declared that he favored protection of American industries because the Americans are the most ingenious people on the face of the earth. By the ordinary mind this will naturally be regarded as a reason why other peoples should be protected rather than the American. It requires the wit of an Ingersoll to see that it is either necessary or advisable to protect the ingenious against the dull-witted, the strong against the weak.
The Rag-Picker of Paris.
By Felix Pyat.
Translated from the French by Benj. B. Tucker.
Continued from No. 127.
“Yes, until the formalities are complied with. It is the law in your case. For loans of more than three dollars, regular papers are required and the testimony of two honorable persons.”
The man who had entered after Madame Didier and remained hidden in the corner, rose suddenly and spontaneously offered himself at the window:
“Two honorable persons? Here is one at any rate!”
“You know Madame?” asked the clerk, with a look of disdain.
“I should say so; I live in the same house.”
“Who are you?”
“Jean, dealer in rags.”
“Wholesale and retail.”
“Let us see, are you established? Have you a license?”
“You mean a basket?”
The clerk became angry.
“Confounded biffin, away with you! Clear out, and be quick about it! Who ever saw you?”
Jean did his best to restrain himself.
“I tell you that I am the witness of this poor lady; and, since you will not land to her, you at least will restore her property.”
“What? You are doubtless in conspiracy”. . .
Madame Didier took the rag-picker by the arm.
“Thank you, Monsieur Jean,” said she, alarmad. “Make no scene. I prefer to abandon these articles. Oh! these wicked men!”
“The regulations apply to all,” concluded the clerk. “And no comments, or else”. . . .
And he pointed to the officer, who stood ready to intervene.
“Miserable quill-driver!” exclaimed Jean, grumbling, swearing, storming.
Nevertheless he suffered the widow to lead him away.
“Now, there you are, stripped,” said he, on reaching the street. “And they call that the Mount of Piety! I was not acquainted with it, but I shall remember it.” The widow started to go, after a final expression of thanks.
“No,” exclaimed Jean, “this must not be left so. You have been robbed as if this were the forest of Bondy. Mount of thieves, away with you! Oh! I wish”. . . .
“I pray you, for pity’s sake, do not make my pitiful situation public. I should die of shame as well as pain.”
“Well,” answered Jean, “I will be silent. . . . But on one condition,— that you permit me as a neighbor, and without regarding it as of any importance. . . . Within the last week I have saved a dollar”. . . .
“Never! Thank you again, and farewell, Monsieur Jean.”
“But I tell you that it is ‘for the little one,’ as you said just now to the woman who was poorer than yourself.”
And he dropped the coin into the widow’s pocket.
“You may return it when you can; it is you who oblige me. The money is well placed. Perhaps I should drink it up. It is agreed? For Marie! Au revoir, Madame Didier.”
And he slipped away as if he had robbed the widow.
Stop, honest Jean; you are not the robber; the robber is the Mount of Piety! The poor mother, surprised and deeply moved, could not restrain him or recall him to return his money.
“Worthy man! when I can! But it is impossible. He does not know my situation. Rent tomorrow, bread today. Oh! it is all over! Poor Marie, in losing your father, we have lost all.”
And with lowered head, ashamed of this forced loan, the first of her life, she went back to the quarter in which she lived, hurrying away as fast as possible from the headquarters of usury where all Paris “on the nail” can satisfy both Heraclitus and Democritus, giving them something at which to laugh. . . and to weep.
Canaille & Co.
Everything here below has its parasite: wealth has flatterers; want, usurers. Fortune and misfortune, everything is exploited,— misfortune especially!
Widowed, exhausted, emaciated, Louise Didier was also an object of prey. What was she to do? What was to become of her? Should she prostitute herself or kill herself? A dilemma without a difference.
Crushed by her condition and by society which created it, she bent her head, dwelling in despair upon her famished little girl and upon the rent-day which was approaching to complete their ruin. She had no hope left save in death for both mother and child.
But on reaching the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, an idea struck her as her eye fell upon a three-sory house which bore three signs.
The first and most complicated was phrased in the following obliging terms:
Pawn-Tickets Purchased, Redeemable on Easy Terms.
Sales on Instalment. — Very Easy Payments.
The second, more laconic but no less benevolent, read simply:
Intelligence-Office for Women.
And finally the last, thoroughly Christian:
The Guardian Angel.
Mme. Gavard, First-Class Midwife, Holding a Diploma from the Faculty.
This house, with its three signs and three trades, one for each floor, was inhabited by M. Abraham Gripon, his wife, and his sister-in-law, Mme. Gavard.
Gripen, an Israelite of low Judæa and one of the most circumcised, bought, sold, loaned, and discounted providentially at five per cent., not per week, but per hour.
His wife, by way of salvation, kept the intelligence-office, and lodged, fed, and clothed girls coming from the country in search of a place in the grace of God.
This industrious and well-matched couple had given birth to a perfect little Jew, Ismael Gripon, no less an enemy of pork than a friend of gold, who already filled his family with the finest hopes.
His father destined him for high Judæa, for the lofty career of a stock-broker, with the upper grade of thieves, where he could steal with more freedom, honor, and profit than his ancestors.
Mme. Gavard, old Gripon’s sister-in-law, angelically practised abortion and even midwifery at accommodating prices.
In the neighborhood the three signs were thought to contain many words for the expression of few truths; and the entire holy Gripon-Gavard family of providential money-lenders, salvation-securing employment finders, and angel-making abortionists, this complete Noah’s Ark, had been popularly baptized under this typical firm name: Canaille & Co.
Even at that epoch such offices as these were the cut-throats and cut-purses of labor.
The widow Didier took her dollar from her pocket and entered the den. Going up one flight, she stopped before the door of the intelligence-office.
She rang timidly. An old woman in spectacles, her head adorned with curlpapers, opened the door and scanned her with a sneaking and inquisitive air.
“What do you want?” she asked her.
“Work,” answered Mme. Didier.
Mme. Gripon pointed her sharp nose upward and scratched her ear for a moment with the end of her pencil, asking herself undoubtedly what she could get out of this woman who seemed to her already consumed by poverty and sorrow.
“Come in,” said she, finally.
Louise was ushered into a cold-looking room, famished with benches upon which were sitting seven or eight women, in search, like herself, of a social position.
“Wait,” continued the old fairy of salvation. “You will take your turn.”
And she called a customer.
Then, making a sign to a spirited, shrewd, and buxom young woman, she retired into a little closet with a glass door.
“You know,” said the customer whom she had called, speaking volubly, “I do not like your place. An old bachelor with nothing at all; decorated, but without four cents to his name; an old soldier, retired on a pension, who pawned his sword yesterday!”
“My dear friend,” said Madame Gripon, superbly, “you must be resigned to service in the army. Your early education was too much neglected. The clergy, the magistracy, and finance, impossible!”
“Why? Why? Especially as I must have what I want.”
“And I tell you that I want a good handsome place for my money!”
“Indeed!” said the employment-agent, sharply, showing her teeth almost to the point of betraying herself, “do you think that I am going to give you, for your paltry two dollars, a place as governess at the Louvre or as niece to a priest?”
“Then how much do you want?”
“Well, sign a couple of little notes for me . . . . oh! a small matter . . . . four dollars each”. . . .
“Why, I will get them discounted down stairs, at M. Gripon’s; but take care! with him there is no trifling. When the money is due, it must be paid. On these conditions you shall have the place that you desire. Is it agreed?”
Mme. Gripon drew up the papers, had them signed by her customer, and in exchange handed her an address.
“The abbé Ventron,” read the stout girl. “Very well! That suits me; au revoir!”
The agent called another customer.
“So,” said she to the new-comer, “you will not work at the place to which I sent you?”
“Why, Madame, it is a bad place, a disreputable house.”
“Well? You are not a policeman, I suppose.”
“Never, I cannot” . . .
“Never!” repeated the old woman, “we shall see. What! you come to Paris without a cent! I give you board, lodging, and washing, in short I support you from head to foot, and after that you raise objections!”
“There is no Madame about it. You should have refused in the first place. There is a prison for swindlers, my dear. Choose.”
The unfortunate girl hesitated a moment, and then, overcome by fear and hunger, faltered:
“I will go.”
“Next,” cried Mme. Gripor.
A poor girl, far advanced in pregnancy, came in her turn.
“You here again!” exclaimed the old woman, indignantly. “And in the same condition! Incorrigible!”
“Oh! if you knew!” said the poor creature. “I have done wrong, it is true, but the son of my employer”. . . .
“Then you have been discharged?”
“My God, yes, Madame.”
“And you come back to me! Always the same story. Upon my word, I am your milch cow,” screamed the old woman, striking her flabby breast.
She continued in the same tone:
“Well, once more I will relieve you of your difficulty. You will go up stairs to Mme. Gavard. I will pay your board. But after that you mu mine.”
“Oh! I will be entirely, eternally grateful to you.”
“Pshaw! that’s all nonsense. The question is whether you will be submissive and practical.”
“I will do anything you want me to.”
To be continued.
O Love Was Red.
O Love was red, and Love was ripe,
And Love shone like the sun,
And my brain went round with a sweet delight,
As I sped away thro’ the charmed night,
With the maid, my loved one.
Her eyes shone bright till the stars went pale,
Her hair was silk-of-gold,
Her cheeks were hot with the blushing blood,
Her lips were full, like the red rose-bud,
Her voice was rich and bold.
“Come! love of mine,” she sweetly said,
“And bear me far away
Upon your steed so strong and fleet,
Away thro’ the moonlight, wierd and sweet,
Long miles ere break of day!
“For my home is not a home to me,
My parents are cold and stern;
My soul revolts at this tyranny!
O take me hence, for I would be free!
With love for you I burn!”
My mare stood under the linden tree —
Black as a flashing coal —
And she pawed the ground as she saw us come,
Whinneying low a glad welcome,
As tho’ the maid were her foal.
I placed my love on a pillion soft,
With one white arm she clung;
Her warm breath played athwart my cheek,
And words of love in my ear did speak,—
Ah me! — our hearts were young.
Afar we fled thro’ that moony night,
And landscapes strange and still;
And the hills rose up, and the hills sank down,
As we galloped on past waste and town.
Till midnight decks did peal.
We reined, at last, in a forest lone,—
My cloak was wide and worm;
Where love is pure, and love is real,
Where hearts are warm, and hearts are leal,
What matters a bond, or form?
Our priest was Love, who gave the ring —
The circle of joy complete —
By Nature’s rites our souls were wed;
And the stars looked down on our sylvan bed
And danced with twinkling feet.
Yea, holier far than prayer of priest
Is the maiden’s kiss of love;
And the faith of a true and sincere man
Was never yet helped by Statute’s plan,
Where Liberty smiled above.
J. Wm. Lloyd.
The National Banking System.
[A Lecture recently delivered in Chicago by Alfred B. Westrup.]
Mr. George Esterly of Whitewater, Wisconsin, has recently (1887) issued a pamphlet entitled, “Review of the National Bank System, as to how and why it should be continued.
In his preface he says: “This question of finance has received comparatively little consideration. Within the last few years the press and a few members of congress have attempted to discuss it to some extent, not always, however, with much skill. The business world, as a rule, have not given it much attention.” It is strange that the experience that results in such an admission should not have prompted a more profound research than we find in his essay.
Mr. Esterly falls into the error common with most political reformers, in supposing that natural laws have nothing to do with the question; that human rights are created by and subject to constitutional provisions and legislative enactments, instead of constitutional provisions and statutes being subject to human rights.
The present or national bank system is founded upon this idea,— that congress is authorized by the constitution to regulate the issue of paper money, and hence had the right to establish it, and that the individual must shape himself to the system thus provided.
I shall not discuss the question as to whether the constitution does or does not confer such power upon congress, for, if it can be shown that the operations of supply and demand will furnish a safer and a better money than the arbitrary system established by the State, it is but additional evidence that progress and institutions are ever at war, and that to attain the one we must sacrifice the other.
It would seem as though a “free people” would hardly have allowed such a mixture of “royal prerogative” and “infallibility” to be dressed up in a republican garb and imposed on them as “majority rule.” How can a majority of the people be said to be intelligently in favor of the existing system, when as a matter of fact they are utterly ignorant of this, as well as all other systems, and do not even know the laws by which it is kept in force, much lees the effect that it produces.
What right, I ask, has the State to regulate the supply of the medium of exchange we call money any more than it has to regulate the manufacture and supply of bricks, bread, cloth, or any other commodity, or how much a man may buy on credit? It was one of the “functions of royalty” when the people of this country threw off the yoke of British rule, and as the question of finance had received even less attention then than now, it was easy for the error to insinuate itself, and become a part of the constitution, that the State should supervise and regulate the coining of money; but does it necessarily follow that, because the constitution says so, therefore it is right? Suppose that after twenty years more of continued and increasing monopolies on the one hand, and poverty on the other, the people should come to realize that, after all, the State is powerless to effect a remedy, or that its interference is the direct cause of these evils. How shall we undo the wrong that has been done? How shall we make amends to the unfortunate victims? How shall we justify the stupidity that failed to question the dogma? What will be the anathemas of the next generation with whom forbearance will cease to be a virtue? Let me remind my hearers that neither constitutions nor supreme benches, but justice, as voiced by the human conscience, is the court of final appeal.
The idea of the coining of money and the issue of currency by the State being borrowed from the despotism from which the people were emancipating themselves when they drove out the British tyrant; and since it is irreconcilable with the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims the right to freedom of exchange (liberty and the pursuit of happiness), how dare congress deny that right by restrictive and arbitrary legislation? If we are not to take the chances of this idea being wrong and of perpetuating the present evils in case they are caused by State interference, then we must fully investigate this question. If the business world, as a rule, has given this subject no attention now, it had given it less when the constitution was framed; hence, no one was prepared to question the wisdom of the clause in that document that relates to money; and, “as the business world as a rule has given it no attention,” and “bankers are no exception to the rule,” how do they know that the State should exercise this power? Mr. Esterly says; “I have talked on this subject with governors, judges, lawyers, members of congress, bankers, and business men, and almost universally, after a little conversation, hear them say, ‘This is a subject to which I have not given much attention.’” How can men who have not given a subject much attention “legislate wisely” upon that subject? How does Mr. Esterly know that it is proper or that it is best for the State to control the currency?
On page 14 of his “Review” he says: “It is entirely safe to say that we have now the best currency in the world.” This does not constitute an argument in favor of its continuance in view of the ignorance which he confesses is almost universal. To be the best that exists, and to be the best that can be devised, are two very different things. It can he the best that exists, and yet be very defective. Is this all the evidence he can produce to justify State control of money? How does he know that the operations of supply and demand, if allowed full scope, would not be an improvement on paternalism? The present system gives the banks control of the volume of money, “which,” he says, “I admit should be obviated,” but for which he gives no remedy. Before the present system came into operation, the cormorant corporation was unknown. On what, then, doth it feed that, it hath grown so great, if not on the effects produced by the control of the volume of money?
In what does the best system of money consist? In the fact that its currency does not suffer discount in different parts of the country, and that it does not become worthless by the failure of the bank that issued it? What other advantage has the present system? On the other hand, is not the question of the rate of interest as well as of the volume of currency vital in the consideration of a money system, and does not the present system give the rate of interest as well as the volume of currency to the control of the monopoly? Has it prevented banks from failing? May not monopoly and failure be associated in the relation of cause and effect? Of what consequence is it whether you lose a hundred or a thousand dollars by a depreciation in the purchasing power of the paper money you hold, or whether you deposit that, much in the bottomless pit of a broken bank? If the State is a potent remedy, why do banks fail in spite of its supervision? The fact is that, whenever the State stops one leak, it causes two. If security to the holder of paper money and uniformity in its purchasing power are attained at the expense of low rates of interest and a sufficient quantity of the circulating medium, can we be said to have solved the problem of money and established the best system? Is there no other way of securing uniformity in the purchasing power of money than by State regulation? Can the question of security and moral obligation be settled by law? Does the State know how much money is needed? If so, how did it find it out? If it does not know, how does it presume to limit it? All these questions must be definitely settled before we can boast of having solved the problem and established the best system.
And is the intelligence that can erect these grand structures in our cities; that can annihilate time and distance by the telegraph and the telephone; penetrate yonder space and determine the size and composition of celestial bodies, their distance and their movements; that can photograph organisms that cannot be felt, or seen by the naked eye; aye, that can construct engines of war so destructive that they are afraid to use them,— is an intelligence, I say, so subtle, and a genius so profound, not capable of solving this problem, be it ever so complex? Let us boldly assume the task of contributing our best thought and earnest cooperation in so important a reform.
Mr. George Esterly believes we have now the best system of currency in the world. Mr. Britton A. Hill asserts that we must have an irredeemable money,— “absolute money,” — a money that shall depend for its acceptability upon the fiat of the State. Neither of these gentlemen seem to favor impartial investigation. On the contrary, they assert dogmatically, and then, like the attorney who has a bad case, construct an argument to justify their position. If paper money is amply secured, it needs no fiat; it will circulate on its merits. To force people to take currency that is not secured is as much a despotism as a forced loan, and is unjustifiable on any grounds whatever. In scientific analysis nothing is taken for granted. If we are to form an opinion as to any institution, we certainly must first know what is the method and object of such institution. Have we observed this course in choosing our money system?
It may be stated in general terms that the object of a money system is to furnish money; but here we are confronted with the question, “what is money? how is it defined?” We must also know what kind of money it proposes to furnish; of what material it is to be made; how it is to be issued; how it secures those who take it in exchange for commodities, and what is to be the cost to those who borrow it. First, then, as to the definition of money. The Encyclopædia Britannica gives Francis A. Walker’s definition of money as follows: “that which passes freely from hand to hand throughout the community in final discharge of debt, and full payment for commodities, being accepted without reference to the character or credit of the person who offers it, and without the intention of the person who receives it to consume it or enjoy it or apply it to any other use than in turn to render it to others in discharge of debt or payment for commodities.” This definition is applicable to coin as well as currency, and is acceptable so far as it goes, but it refers only to the office of money,— its function in facilitating the exchange of the products of labor or commodities.
In order to do this, money must have some qualities that are recognizable. For instance, coin may pass freely front hand to hand and purchase as much for a beggar as for an aristocrat, and so may currency, but the nature of coin is different from that of currency. It has market value at least to the extent of the quantity of metal it contains, while currency contains no market value whatever; hence its acceptability in exchange for commodities must be on other grounds than those on which coin is accepted.
Coin money is made of metal, which is a product of labor, and therefore has a market value. It is true, the natural limit to the metal and the fact that it is made a legal tender gives it an increased value artificially, but it is nevertheless market value. This is one quality. The fact that the stamp on it enables one to show how much of this market value it contains is another quality. The recognizable qualities of coin money then are, that it contains market or exchangeable value and that we are able to realize how much of this market value it contains by means of the stamp impressed upon it.
Paper money has no market value, or, to state it more correctly, the market value of the material contained in paper money is too inappreciable to be considered; but it is, or should be, a representative of market value, as is the ease when it is issued in place of an equal amount of coin pledged to redeem it. I therefore define the nature of coin money to be wealth, and that of paper money to be a representative of wealth when wealth is pledged to secure those who take it. State paper money which rests solely on the promise to redeem in taxes may, I think, properly be defined as State scrip, but when, in addition to this promise, it is made a legal tender for private debts, fiat money would be a more proper definition.
Having arrived at a conclusion as to the correct definition of money, in regard to its nature as well as its office, I will now proceed with the main question,— in what does the best system of money consist?
The best system of money is the one that will furnish money made of the most suitable material; that will provide a sufficient quantity; that will afford the greatest security to those who take it; that will maintain the most unvarying uniformity in its purchasing power; that will farnish it at a just rate of interest and with the least partiality. It does not seem necessary to discuss those points, for there will hardly be any one who will dispute them. A money system that will come up to all these requirements would certainly be a most perfect one; but as to the questions, what is the most suitable material, how much is a sufficient quantity, what constitutes security, purchasing power, a just rate of interest, and impartiality in a money system, we must fully determine before we can judge of the merits of the present system or suggest a better, which is the special object of this essay.
To be concluded.
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.