“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
The “Workmen’s Advocate” need not have gone to the trouble of declaring, apropos of nothing concerning it,that it had not “even faintly expressed admiration” for Liberty. I am aware of it, and I am glad of it. Praise from that source would indeed be the worst infliction.
The present issue of Liberty concludes the fifth volume, copies of which, bound uniformly with the preceding volumes, will soon be ready for delivery at two dollars each. Those desiring copies will confer a favor by sending in their orders as early as possible, accompanied by the cash.
I have often been asked for an English translation of the French song printed in the early chapters of “What’s To Be Done?” A California friend has kindly prepared one for me, which is given in this issue and will he substituted for the French in the next edition of the book.
“There are two things needed in these days,” says sagacious Edward Atkinson: “first, for rich men to find out how poor men live; and, second, for poor men to know how rich men work.” You are right, Mr. Atkinson; and when the poor men once know this, the rich men will very speedily find themselves out of a job. It will be the greatest lock-out on record.
J. E. Hall writes essays and lectures on Individualism and Anarchism, in which he vainly tries to give profound and philosophical appearance to silly and crude ideas. He evidently has yet to read (or, at any rate, to master) the first Anarchistic book. Meantime let him answer honestly this simple question, which will clear up his confusion of experimentally-proven and voluntarily-accepted scientific truths with individual opinions enforced by majority-made statutes: Why do we not hear of any movement against the tyranny of the absolute rule that twice two is four at the same time that we hear so much against the ideas which he and his friends advocate with such confidence in matters social and political?
“Only the righteous wrath of the people, backed up by physical force, can restore to its owners the stolen wealth,” writes Henry F. Charles in the “Alarm.” The righteous wrath of the people backed up by all the physical force in the world can never restore the wealth already stolen, because no one knows or ever can know to whom it properly belongs. Nor can it provide that all wealth hereafter produced shall not be stolen, unless it acquires some knowledge of economic law. Possessed of this knowledge, righteous wrath will need no other backing. It will need then only to stand back upon its rights and not budge therefrom. Immediately all wealth held by idlers will begin to drain away from them, and when it is entirely gone, they will have to work or starve. After that there will be no labor question and no need of revolution.
Opposing capital punishment in the columns of the “Christian Register,” Edwin D. Mead remarks: “Society would have done much more to protect itself from bombs by sending Spies and Parsons to Joliet than it did by hanging them; and, if the prison is a rational one and not a brutal one, it would have done much more for their own moral culture.” Let me tell you, Mr. Edwin D. Mead, that long before it shall become possible to place prisons under the control of men who have mounted one-tenth the way to the heights of rational and moral culture attained by August Spies and Albert Parsons the necessity for both prisons and gallows will have disappeared, and that, if at that epoch your words have not been forgotten, they will only be remembered to mark the depth to which either ignorance or cowardly hypocrisy can descend in the way of insolence.
The Boston “Transcript” rebukes the New York press for devoting so much attention to the funeral of the late Courtlandt Palmer, and says that men of his stamp “are as common as blackberries in every city of New England.” As newspapers go, I hold the “Transcript” in relative respect as an occasionally fair-minded journal, and am the sorrier therefore to find in its columns this bit of New England snobbery. One would gather from the “Transcript’s” paragraph that Courtlandt Palmer was simply a man of social standing who rejected the orthodox creed. The editor of Liberty happens to be on an intimate personal footing with a “young gentleman who produces headlines” for a daily newspaper who can inform the “Transcript” that Mr. Palmer was much more than that,— in fact, that he was an all-round radical, holding heterodox views of love and marriage, and even a pronounced Socialist, although a man of great wealth, and that he held the truth which he possessed, not after the fashion of New England dilettanti as a pretty bauble for the private admiration of the curious and of no more value than a lie except as a curiosity, but after the fashion of earnest workers everywhere as a priceless possession, growing in value in the proportion that others share it, and therefore to be actively propagated, not that it may be made the creed of a sect, but that its power may be utilized to the fullest for the destruction of social evils and the enhancement of social welfare. If the “Transcript” will point me, not to a whole blackberry crop, but to a single young man, in any New England city, of Courtlandt Palmer’s wealth and social position, who affords anything approaching his parallel in these particulars, I will apologize to its editor for dubbing him a snob.
My old friend and associate in the newspaper business, W. Kilby Reynolds, has embarked in the publication at St John, N. B., of a monthly pamphlet called the “Gripsack” and devoted to the interests of travellers in the provinces. This is a little out of Liberty’s line, but, in remembrance of “auld lang syne,” and because Mr. Reynolds is one of the brightest men I ever knew, and because he is two-thirds, if not three-thirds an Anarchist, and because the words which I shall quote from his first number regarding the “Gripsack’s” patrons apply with equal force to Anarchy’s supporters, I wish to say that this pamphlet is published at one dollar a year by Knowles & Reynolds, 107 Prince Wm. Street, St. John, N. B., and that Mr. Reynold’s introductory article, “The Gripsack is Opened,” concludes as follows: “The ‘Gripsack’ has come to stay. Yes, gentlemen, it will stay. Not in any one place, but in many places. It will go where the travellers go. Such patrons as have given their support through personal friendship, ‘to help the thing along,’ will find that they have not devoted their money to a charity. Those who have reluctantly consented after much time, shoe-leather, and patience has been exercised on our part, will find that they have builded better than they knew. Those who have become patrons through principle, because they believe the investment a good one, are men of business, who will get just what they expect. And they are in the majority among the advertisers. There is one other class we want to thank. It is composed of those who intend to become patrons, if we make the venture a success without their aid. We thank them for their civility, and will see them later. These are the kind of men Who build up a country — after their neighbors have solved the problem of its settlement and destiny.”
Liberty and Liberties.
A papal encyclical is announced, which, it appears, will make a “great sensation.” This dissertation will be entitled “Libertas praestantissimum bonum,” and, under pretext of celebrating human liberty, will condemn all the liberties which contemporary humanity demands,— liberty to think, liberty to write, liberty to speak. Leo XIII. recognizes only one possible liberty,— liberty to believe. It is a trifle restricted. With this theory of liberty stakes are set up at which to burn those who do not believe. The era of inquisitions is reopened, and we again enter upon a past age.
We do not say more about this document, which is not yet published in Paris and which promises to be a sweetmeat of a pretty length. But I imagine that many people will take the human liberty not to read it,— another liberty of which the sovereign pontiff doubtless will not approve.
[Translated from the French for Liberty by H. B. P.]
Under our rags we all,
Courageous workers, wait
In hope that science may fall
To man, and a better fate.
So let us study and work,
For knowledge brings force to men;
Yes, let us study and work;
We’ll see abundance then.
Ah!’twill come! it will come! it will come!
Now people united cry:
Ah! ’twill come! it will come! it will come!
Who lives shall see by and by!
And from our ignorance who
Are sufferers, if not we?
Let science, then, come to do
The work that shall set us free:
We are now bowed down with grief,
And yet, by fraternity,
We hasten the glad relief Of all humanity.
Ah! ’twill come! &c.
Let the union fecund take place
Of knowledge with toil, and O
What happiness to our race,
With love as the law, may flow;
Then, laboring each for all
As brothers and sisters dear,
We’ll, loving and learning, call
Life better with every year.
Ah! ’twill come! &c.
Yes, that misery may no more
Be ours, we work and learn;
Earth’s paradise, in store
For those who love, we earn:
In labor, and love, and song,
All true good shall be known;
Good! — happy! — taught! we long
To call that day our own.
Ah! ’twill come! it will come! it will come!
Now people united cry:
Ah! ’twill come! it will come! it will come!
Who lives shall see by and by!
’Tis coming fast!
’Twill come at last
To those who live!
The Rag-Picker of Paris.
By Felix Pyat.
Translated from the French by Benj. B. Tucker.
Continued from No. 129.
Then, again escorted by the attendant, she passed a second time through the waiting-room.
The beggars, male and female, divined her failure in the confusion which covered her race.
Exclamations of spite and satisfaction were exchanged.
“The blonde is upset!”
“The young woman got left!”
“The beauty is done for!”
The attendant had pity on her, and as she disappeared in the stairway, he recalled her and said:
“Stay, go mingle with the crowd there. Talk with them, and you will find out where soup, linen, and even pennies are distributed, morning and evening, at the houses of the good heads, as they call them.”
Then, looking at her with a complacency and an absence of moral sense peculiar to his philanthropic business, he added:
“But no. . . . listen a moment. You are not smart. To beg here is to waste your time, as pretty as you are.”
The widow went away, bedaubed with this last insult. A handful of mud after the thrust of a knife. . . .
Thus religious and civil aid, the assistance of Church and of State, of God and of man, one of the two (which of the two?) made in the image of the other, the entire official and officious almsgiving machinery, failed a woman in the most sociable of societies.
Behind the dirty cart of a dirty knacker, drawn by a dirty horse and loaded with a dead jade, its four feet in the air and its neck hanging and bleeding, follow a file of beasts old and valueless, utterly worn out, with nothing but skin on their bones, walking carcasses, some lame in the left foot, others in the right foot, some even in both feet. They walk or rather are dragged to the slaughter-house, whipped toward death, unconscious and docile beasts, who, serving man all their lives, now go to receive the finishing stroke and furnish after their death the leather with which to bridle and lash their fellows.
Sad emblem of the poor man who, in spite of the right professed by modern society, gives all his life to clothe, feed, and defend the rich man, and, dead, gives also to science even his body to cure him.
In the bosom of the Tiber of ancient Rome, on a deserted island, the pagan slaughter-house guarded by Caesar’s soldiers, they landed the old and useless slaves, there to die of hunger; but at least after having sufficiently fed them, as horses are fed, during their lives of service, and without subjecting them, as the modern slave is subjected, to the torture of Tantalus, starvation in the midst of abundance, hunger at the doors of Paris restaurants.
Animals, you have no reason to envy the “king of creation”; slaves of Rome, you were tortured less than the “sovereign people” of France!
Even in Rome, when Paganism was at its height, death was only for invalid old age. In Paris as in Pekin, amid European civilization as amid Asiatic barbarism, death even for children!
Jean, who was neither a deputy, nor a peer, nor a judge, nor a priest, and as little of a deist as a royalist, had kept his oath, faithful to his conscience, to the promise which he had given himself over the body of Jacques.
He drank no more, ate little, slept still less, and worked a great deal, watching incessantly over Didier’s wife and child.
“I will do what I can to aid them,” he had said to the dying collector.
But what can a rag-picker do for others? Scarcely can he do anything for himself!
He did more than he could. Every night a double basket, beginning early, finishing late, leaving his hole before twilight, returning to it after daybreak, the first and the last of the night-walkers. He went to the muck-heap with the same ardor with which he formerly went to the wine-shop.
Hence, on the night preceding the third day after the murder of Jacques, Jean had gone out and come in twice with two full baskets.
He had gone out a third time.
Having taken quarters in the very house where the widow lived, a benevolent spy, he never abandoned his watch except to help her.
“Poor woman,” he continually said to himself, “she has nothing from the banker and what from the rag-picker? If I were rich, if I only had enough to pay the rent and the funeral expenses. What a life, or rather what death! All day on the rim! All night on the watch between a corpse and a cradle! And on top of all the rest the police pestering her with their inquests and visits. They could do much better to catch the guilty than to mangle the victims.”
He was thus soliloquizing during his third trip, when he had a singular meeting beside a pile of dirt.
An individual, tolerably well-dressed but suspicious in appearance, had stopped there before him and thrown a bundle into it.
Jean, suddenly coming up, thrust his hook into the heap, when the individual, who had started as if to retreat, noticed by the light of the lantern the rag-picker’s basket, stopped short, and, seized with an irresistible fit of curiosity, said to Jean:
“Where did you get that basket, I should like to know?”
“That doesn’t concern you, friend,” said Jean, in little humor for talking, especially on that subject.
And again he plunged in his hook.
“Oh! what’s this! an infant!”
His hook had torn open the bundle, which contained a still-born babe.
“Another crime! Police! Police!” he cried with all his might.
Then the individual wheeled about as if to run away.
“What! the coat fits you? Stop!”
And Jean seized him, shouting at the top of his voice:
“Police! Where are they? Sleeping with servants or hidden in doorways? Hurry up; don’t be afraid! It’s only a dead baby!”
An officer came at last.
“What is the matter?”
“Here, see what I have found,” said Jean, still keeping a firm grip upon the individual. “This is the gentleman who threw that there.”
“No, no,” cried the individual, struggling, gesticulating, and swearing in Italian.
“Your name?” asked the officer.
“Paolo, an employee at”. . . .
And he stopped short.
“Where? Tell me, or I arrest you.”
“At Madame Gavard’s.”
“What does she do?”
Again Paolo hesitated.
“She is a midwife.”
“Indeed!” cried Jean.
“Well, let us be off, then. To the station-house, everybody,” decided the officer.
“To kill a child, there’s a crime for you! We know what a grown man is, but a child we cannot know,” said Jean to himself, thinking of the little Marie as he carried the poor body to the station-house.
Then he returned to his work, and in a frenzy threw the rags into his basket.
At last, reaching home again, overcome with fatigue, he threw himself upon his pallet, where he slept until late in the morning.
What was going on in his neighbor’s room during his morning slumber?
She did not sleep. She had been, not wakened from her sleep, but shaken from-her stupor by a veritable invasion of her room.
Janitor, proprietor, process-server, auctioneer, auctioneer’s clerk, second-hand dealers, and buyers, who came, in the name of justice, to execute the law!
Ravage followed invasion.
The process-server brought an execution for the last quarter’s rent, the payment of which had been delayed in consequence of Louise Didier’s confinement.
The auctioneer immediately took possession, sitting down rudely in the armchair in which Louise had passed the night and from which she had just risen with a start.
The clerk asked her for the keys to her furniture, opened the different pieces, took out the linen and anything that he found, laying everything pell-mell, upside down, in parcels, on the table, where the auctioneer took note of the lots of the poor establishment.
The proprietor reviewed each article with an anxious eye, coldly calculating whether the whole would suffice to pay the rent.
The public subjected to the same careful scrutiny all the articles to be sold, weighing them, estimating their condition and value, the women especially admiring their cleanliness.
The auction began with the bed coverlet.
The auctioneer picked it up roughly, revealing, stiff upon its couch,— this at least unseizable,— the pale corpse of the bank collector.
Louise, stifling a cry, covered Jacques’s face with her handkerchief, the body having been left there for the inquest and now awaiting burial.
“A woollen blanket, very clean, without a hole or a stain, in good condition! A dollar, did I hear that bid?” cried the auctioneer, quickly recovering from his astonishment.
“Dollar ten,” said the proprietor.
“Dollar twenty,” said an old woman, enviously.
“Dollar forty,” cried a second-hand dealer, the Jew Gripon.
“Ah! if Canaille & Co. are here, we are done for,” said the old woman to her neighbors. “It’s a pity.”
“Dollar fifty,” rejoined the proprietor.
“Dollar sixty,” said the old woman.
“Dollar eighty,” answered another second-hand dealer, with an Auvergnat accent.
“One Auvergnat is worth two Jews; there’s no hope,” said the old woman, in a rage.
And there was silence for a time.
“Dollar eighty,” repeated the auctioneer, having an interest, like the proprietor, in getting a high price on account of his percentage; “why, that’s nothing at all! don’t you see that it’s almost new?”
“Dollar ninety,” pushed on the proprietor.
“Two dollars,” exclaimed the Auvergnat.
“Disgusting!” cried the old woman; “I drop it entirely.”
Again there was silence.
“Two dollars. . . no one says a word? Once, twice, going, going, gone!” said the auctioneer, letting fall a black and white hammer with an ebony handle and an ivory head.
Louise had not left her husband’s side; she stood erect, petrified, the statue of grief.
The sale went on.
She looked at this crowd in her orderly home, upsetting, depreciating, profaning its chaste and sober interior, everything that she had that was private, precious, and dear in her domestic life, these poor nothings in order which had cost her so much toil and care, these small treasures of her past happiness, these solemn witnesses of happy days, these gifts associated with joyful memories, some paid for by her labor, others surprises of her husband for her birthday, even to her wedding-wreath, the entire museum of her love ransacked, scattered, disparaged, sold at a reduction, at a contemptible price, in presence of herself and her dead husband.
She felt herself becoming mad, unable longer to stand, as if they had torn, sold, and carried away the shreds of her heart.
“A cradle,” cried the auctioneer.
At this word she leaped like a lioness toward her child.
“Do not touch,” she cried, and, throwing herself upon Marie, she lifted her from the cradle, suddenly wakened by the noise, moaning and wailing in her mother’s arms.
“Make your child keep quiet,” said the auctioneer, continuing:
“A wicker cradle, trimmed with muslin, very clean. Forty cents. Keep the child quiet, I tell you, or go out; we can hear nothing.”
To quiet the child, the mother gave her her breast. Alas! there came from it only a thread of reddish serum. Suffering had turned everything . . . . no more milk, nothing but blood!
The child cried with hunger and shook convulsively.
Then Louise Didier, as if impelled by an extreme resolution, went out suddenly with her daughter hanging on her neck.
“Good enough!” said the satisfied auctioneer.
“A cradle, forty cents”. . .
“Fifty,” cried a young wife, who seemed to have a pregnant woman’s desire for the article. And the auction went on briskly.
Jean, awakened also by the noise of the sale, had come down from his garret to the chamber; and, seeing the door open and the room full of people, he entered and stood for a moment dumbfounded by what he saw and heard.
“What’s the matter? What’s this? What! What! An auction here!” he cried at last to the janitor.
“Well, what of it? You see for yourself. You can hear as well as I. We are selling everything to get the rent. What then?” answered the janitor, indifferently.
Still a warm dispute was going on for the cradle.
“And Mme. Didier?” said Jean, alarmed.
“And the child?”
“Faith, I don’t know.”
Jean asked nothing more, but started like a ball, leaping down the stairs and rushing like a madman into the street after Mme. Didier. . . .
“A pretty little cradle,” continued the auctioneer. “See, ladies, all white, fresh, and tammed, at only a dollar. It’s no price at all; it’s worth double the money.” “Dollar ten,” said the young woman.
“Dollar twenty,” answered the proprietor.
“But you are a bachelor; you have no need of that.”
“Dollar forty,” said the Auvergnat.
“Dollar sixty,” said the Jew.
“Are you going to have a baby, like me, old Auvergnat?” cried the exasperated young woman; “and you, old Jew, can your old Rebecca still make little Jacobs?” “Dollar eighty,” answered Gripon, without laughing.
And there was another period of silence.
“Once, twice. Dollar eighty! No more amateurs? For the third time. Dollar eighty! Sold!”
The sale concluded: all the furniture,— clothes-press, chest of drawers, cupboard, table, chairs; all the linen,— sheets, table-cloths, shirts, napkins, handkerchiefs; all the household implements,— shovels, tongs, broom, dustbrush; all the humble utensils of the poor woman’s kitchen; all the wearing-apparel,— garments, shoes, caps; — everything passed under the fatal hammer, everything was struck and coined into money for the pocket of the proprietor, the official, and the secondhand dealer.
The spoils were divided in the interest of those three harpies,— property, the law, and usury.
As for the creature who had acquired and accumulated it all by dint of labor and economy, nothing was left for her but her weeping eves. And as for her sisters in poverty who hoped for bits of her effects, they had to buy them on the instalment plan from the three monopolists.
The proprietor held out against the Auvergnat and the Jew and arranged with them to surrender, in consideration of a premium, all that he had bid in,— in short, he was repaid and more.
The Jew and the Auvergnat, hand and glove together, sold to advantage all that they had bought — coverlet, cradle, furniture, linen, etc. — to the old and young wives, who paid double and triple according to their necessities. Then all was over,— the furniture removed, the room evacuated, the door closed; and each retired, speculating and commenting upon his profits and losses, more or less content.
Meanwhile Jean had overtaken Madame Didier with his eyes, and was following her as if he were her dog.
Return to the Board of Public Charities.
In the Public Charities building a bare and gloomy room, divided into two by a wooden barrier, was devoted to the reception of abandoned infants.
Unfortunate or degraded mothers, indifferent or constrained relatives, midwives or simple commissioners, came to this human pawn-shop to pledge forever their own children or the children of others.
On this first day of April poverty had driven a number of unfortunates to this ante-room of the hospital for found, or rather lost, children.
The aspect of the room was terrible from the very variety of its phases of despair and shame.
Some of the women, silent or excited, resigned or maddened, with eyes moist or burning, offered for the last time an exhausted and withered bosom to the fruit of their love, while awaiting the supreme and frightful sacrifice of Carthage to Paris.
By the side of the mothers were step-mothers, with eyes dry and hard, sneering at these mute sorrows which condemned them. Some brought their children to save them, others to lose them. These, unfortunate, were no longer able to feed their poor offspring; those, rarer and more miserable, were no longer willing to do so!
“Poverty is not a vice,” said Voltaire; “it is much worse.” Yes, it is a crime, a social crime! Where were the responsible authors of these miseries? For, when a woman falls, it is because a man has pushed her. In love there is no fault without an accomplice, and the accomplice here is the real author. And the law, as immoral as the prostitution which it creates, maintains, and regulates, prohibits search for the original criminal in forbidding inquiry as to paternity.
Yes, most of these destitute creatures bad committed their “fault” perforce, driven to it by poverty! Their babies had no father. . . . No father! O law of nature! O so-called civil code!
On the bench, between two midwives, in a hurry to finish their professional duty, a man in the prime of life, the workingman of the Mount of Piety, dandled an infant feverishly upon his knees. In his whole person there was something tragic, an immense sentiment of tenderness mingled with indignation and even with rebellion.
In front of him a vixen, abominably drunk, was constantly on the point of dropping her offspring, which, all covered with pustules, seemed to have an alcoholic head.
The clerk in charge of this infernal office registered the abandonments, talking to the women in a supercilious and wearied tone. He was in a hurry to get through. . . . and while the mothers stifled their sobs and embraced their crying babies, he looked at the clock and rolled a cigarette.
From time to time he stormed.
“A little silence! Whose turn next?”
The habit of following this diabolical calling had hardened the bureaucrat against emotion. Through handling iron the blacksmith gets callous hands; this clerk had a callous heart. He wrote rapidly, unmoved by the mothers’ tears falling under his pen and moistening the fatal registry.
The midwives came first, no one disputing this privilege with them; then the liquor-soaked woman advanced to offer her bud.
“Here’sh a present I make you,” said she to the clerk. “Soon you will have a pair.”
The bureaucrat turned away to avoid breathing the odor of brandy which the creature exhaled.
“Pooh! he exclaimed. “Why don’t you keep your child?”
“Can’t. My husband drinks disgustingly.”
“I, never. Besides, my husband beats me, and my milk spoils. Understand? It is to save the brat.”
“All right; hand it over!”
“There you are. Good luck, little glutton, you will suck at the municipal bottle. Don’t deprive yourself! get full, like papa.”
“And mamma,” said the clerk; “she ought to be condemned to water.”
“To water yourself! Oh! it’s poison. . . . not good even for drunkards.”
“Another! and quickly!”
And as the mothers naturally did not hurry, and looked at each other with terror, the clerk hailed the workingman.
“Say, you there, come forward. A man. . . . this is a pretty how-do-you-do!” The workingman started under the insult.
“Confounded clerk, attend to your scribbling,” he cried. “Ah! one of these days, and before long too, we’ll give it to you.”
“Until we can do better. To think that we have to pay all these quill-drivers for bullying us!”
“Go on, I hear,” said the clerk, “you are a red. . . . or rather a loafer.”
“Yes, a forced loafer; I am out of work, and I have only my arms with which to feed my child. I am not in the same case as you, who have enough to feed the child that perhaps you do not possess or that you lay in the nest of others.” “Enough, we Know the tune. Your name?”
“Good, the name goes with the principles. You are a spirit of the great epoch, it seems.”
“Yes, republican from father to son.”
“Well, this shall end the race. We will bring it up differently. It shall be a royalist.”
“We shall see.”
“You had better take it back. Why leave it with us?”
“Why? Because her mother is dead, and I cannot give her suck, and I wish her to live.”
“What is her name?”
“Oh, that’s promising! Here, put your name at the bottom of this sheet.”
The workingman signed, kissed the little girl, and then went out, turning back toward the clerk and shaking his fist at him.
The bureaucrat, while filling out Marianne’s registration paper, gave a lecture on morality ad hoc to the poor women whom he was under instructions to treat harshly in order to turn as many of them as possible away from the budget of Public Charities for the benefit of the budget-eaters, the biggest, fattest, and most insatiable of beggars.
So the official, faithful to this order of exclusion, growled away as he scribbled: “Ah! I know you, my wenches, and it will be vain for you to deny what I say; only unnatural mothers come here. . . . No excuses! Without work? . . . . ta-ra-ta-ta, without work, yes! When people make children, they must keep them. No pleasure without pain. Indeed, that would be too convenient. They come from the country to Paris, believing that larks are going to fall all roasted into their beaks. . . . Think of it! . . . . And what happens? They do not work, they allow themselves to be inveigled. . . . they commit a fault, as you call it. After the performance comes abandonment. They are left alone. . . . the man goes and the kid comes. . . . Then they whine and cry poverty; and then at the last they bring up here as at “my aunt’s.” Ah! but, you know, it is not the same to the end. Here they pawn, out they cannot redeem. A child found for the Public Charities is a child lost for the mamma. A warning to such as have hearts. There is still time.”
This harangue, ingeniously drawn up and learned and recited by heart, had on this occasion, as it always had, an excellent result for the administration; three or four women, the best of them, rose and went out, taking their babies. But patience: poverty does not lose its rights; mothers and children will be found tonight drowned in the Seine or hanging to some nail or suffocated in their room. Ah! these suicides are murders!
The pitiless clerk, undoubtedly decorated for this, went on with his task, registering social conditions, passing the abandoned little ones to a woman in waiting, and in exchange handing the unfortunates papers to sign.
At four o’clock in the afternoon the room was empty. The clerk resumed his ease and lighted his cigarette.
“Ah! it’s over,” said he, stretching his arms carelessly. “No damage. A dog’s life. Always the same thing. What a bore! Oh! if there were no perquisites!” At that moment two new faces appeared in the room. The first, Mme. Gavard, made her entrance superbly with an infant under each arm.
The clerk was as polite to her as he had been rude to the others. A smile spread over his entire face. He even forgot his cigarette.
The midwife advanced straight to the desk, sure of her business and of a cordial welcome, as an habitude, even as a friend, almost as mistress of the establishment. Why? Administrative mystery.
“Here are two for today,” said she, depositing her double burden on the table and then extending to the clerk a hand which did not seem empty.
The girl charged with verifying the sex approached complacently and said in a loud voice:
And, without further formalities, she carried the infants into an adjoining room. “Just born, at my house, no name, father and mother unknown,” said the Gavard, expeditiously.
“All right! sign, please,” said the clerk.
The midwife signed, and went to sit down and talk with the examiner, who had come in again.
“No one else . . . no . . . yes, there is! What is it that you want, you there?” cried the clerk.
He had just noticed a dark shadow at the rear of the room, the woman who had entered behind the Gavard.
He went on scolding:
“Ah! you don’t hear then? Is your business for today or tomorrow?”
The woman thus appealed to dragged herself toward the desk.
She was hardened to all outrages, and had already, on revisiting this hell, met one insult more as she entered, from the jovial attendant of the charity office, who had said to her in passing:
“Back from Epinal already?”
But she was no longer sensible or conscious of anything except the desperate act which she came to perform.
“I beg pardon, Monsieur,” said she, “but”. . . .
“Nobuts. We will put this through in two times and three motions. Besides, it is purely an accommodation on my part. Shall we say, then, that you abandon your child?”
“Yes . . . it is necessary”. . . .
“Naturally . . . And or course it is yours, at least?”
“Oh! yes,” burst out the mother; “Marie . . . farewell! I shall die.”
“Oh! that’s the usual racket; come, pass the child to Madame.”
The woman in waiting, the cynical examiner, seated on a camp-bed covered with haircloth, rose listlessly and took the baby, which began to cry, being frightened and hungry.
“Bah! you will see many others,” said she, stretching the little one on the hard bed and unswathing her rudely, as one opens a bundle to verify its contents.
The mother had fallen on the bench.
“What’s your name, Mam’zelle?” asked the clerk.
“Madame Didier,” answered the widow, proudly.
The bureaucrat turned to the examiner.
“What? . . . male?” he asked.
“No, Monsieur, it is a girl,” the mother hastened to answer, wounded by this brutal question.
“No one spoke to you,” said the clerk; “you saw well enough that I addressed myself to the searcher.”
“Feminine sex,” said the latter, rolling the child up in its linen.
“Oh! you will hurt her,” cried the mother, as if she had felt the shock herself.
“That’s not your business now,” answered the clerk, who went on filling out the registry blanks until he reached the heading: Motives.
“Why do you abandon your child?” he said, repeating the question which he had put to the workingman a little while before.
To be continued.
“In abolishing rent and interest, the last vestiges of old-time slavery, the Revolution abolishes at one stroke the sword of the executioner, the seal of the magistrate, the club of the policeman, the gunge of the exciseman, the erasing-knife of the department clerk, all those insignia of Politics, which young Liberty grinds beneath her heel.” — Proudhon.
The appearance in the editorial column of articles over other signatures than the editor’s initial indicates that the editor approves their central purpose and general tenor, though he does not hold himself responsible for every phrase or word. But the appearance in other parts of the paper of articles by the same or other writers by no means indicates that he disapproves them in any respect, such disposition of them being governed largely by motives of convenience.
A Confession and a Suspicion.
Discussing the policy of boycotting and the outrageous decisions and action of the courts in relation thereto, the “Workmen’s Advocate” arrives at the following disquieting conclusions:
There are two ways of combatting the schemes of the capitalistic courts. One is to go into politics upon a radical platform and win; the other is to adopt a system of passive resistance, and boldly continue in the exercise of rights, no matter if the powers that be send committee after committee to jail. When one man is arrested and prevented from doing his duty by his organization, another should take his place; and another and another, till organized labor’s forces are exhausted, if need be. Insist upon the right to strike, to boycott, and to prevent a lowering of the standard of the workers by all honorable means. The political plan is not at present feasible. The latter plan is, if the organized workmen have confidence in the justice of their cause and the courage to maintain it.
If the orthodox State Socialist who penned these lines did not appreciate the startling significance of the thoughts contained in them or surmise the important consequences which unavoidably follow a logical extension and application of those thoughts in other matters, he will be sorry to learn that he is one of those who build better than they know — in the interest of the enemy. The Socialistic rank and file should incontinently proceed to fortify itself against this embryonic heresy, which, if not properly dealt with, will endanger their whole position. Passive resistance is essentially an Anarchistic method. State Socialists of every description naturally divide themselves into two parties,— the political agitators and the revolutionists. The first believe that existing wrongs can be abolished by a proper use of the ballot,— that is, by the exploited classes becoming more or less converted to Socialism and determining to delegate governmental powers to none but avowed Socialists. Once in power, the Socialistic majority, so chosen would easily and peaceably make all necessary changes and introduce all needed reforms. Accordingly this school favors independent action and participation in all political campaigns. The revolutionary Socialists discard the ballot, arguing that education and organization of the proletariat are utterly impossible at present; that, the corner-stone of Socialism being the idea that intellectual and moral progress cannot precede, but must only succeed, an improvement in the material condition of men, it is a contradiction to count upon a theoretical acceptance of Socialism by a majority as a means of establishing it in practice; and that, even if the proletariat could be drilled and taught to use the ballot as a class weapon, the capitalistic class would not allow them to attempt to do so, but would deprive them of it as soon as it perceived danger ahead. They predict revolution, and submit that there remains nothing to do except to prepare for the inevitable. The victims of the present institutions must rise in their might and wrath and level them down before the Socialists can be called upon to engage in constructive work.
The ballot and revolution alike are to be used as offensive and aggressive weapons in behalf of a certain compulsory system. No provisions are made in either case for the liberty and security of those (not of the would-be-exploiting-class) who may not sympathize with the new order of things. Passive resistance, on the other hand, contemplates only defence and selfprotection, and is absolutely incapable of constraining or commanding others.
When a State Socialist confesses that “the political plan is not at present feasible,” and suggests the plan of passive resistance, it is safe to infer that his mind is also burdened with a suspicion that the revolutionary method is far from being certain and reliable. Successful passive resistance is possible even for a small minority, whereas revolution and politics depend entirely for their issue upon the overwhelming force of numbers. And now, since the State Socialists have discovered a new light, it behooves them to examine with its aid all the other doubtful nooks and corners in their programme. I venture the assertion that they will find the same difficulty everywhere. The abolition of rent, or interest, or political tyranny, or slavery in any form, can only be attempted through passive resistance. “The political plan is not feasible” there, either, and who knows what the much prayed-for revolution, should it come, would bring? Moreover, it is agreed on all hands that we cannot afford to fold our hands and wait for the revolution, but must seek to insure for it chances of victory; and what better system of practical and theoretical propaganda can the revolutionary minority adopt than that of passively resisting injustice and revealing the hideous nature of existing institutions?
At the same time I desire to be honest enough to repeat my warning that passive resistance would lead to the inauguration of Anarchistic association, and not to State Socialism.
Does Competition Mean War?
To the Editor of Liberty:
Your thought-provoking controversy with Herr Most suggests this question: Whether is Individualism or Communism more consistent with a society resting upon credit and mutual confidence, or, to put it another way, whether is competition or co-operation the truest expression of that mutual trust and fraternal good-will which alone can replace present forms of authority, usages and customs as the social bond of union?
The answer seems obvious enough. Competition, if it means anything at all, means war, and, so far from tending to enhance the growth of mutual confidence, must generate division and hostility among men. If egoistic liberty demands competition as its necessary corollary, every man becomes a social Ishmael. The state of veiled warfare thus implied where underhand cunning takes the place of open force is doubtless not without its attractions to many minds, but to propose mutual confidence as its regulative principle has all the appearance of making a declaration of war in terms of peace. No, surely credit and mutual confidence, with everything thereby implied, rightly belong to an order of things where unity and good-fellowship characterize all human relations, and would flourish best where co-operation finds its complete expression,— viz., in Communism.
W. T. Horn.
The supposition that competition means war rests upon old notions and false phrases that have been long current, but are rapidly passing into the limbo of exploded fallacies. Competition means war only when it is in some way restricted, either in scope or intensity,— that is, when it is not perfectly free competition; for then its benefits are won by one class at the expense of another, instead of by all at the expense of nature’s forces. When universal and unrestricted, competition means the most perfect peace and the truest co-operation; for then it becomes simply a test of forces resulting in their most advantageous utilization. As soon as the demand for labor begins to exceed the supply, making it an easy matter for every one to get work at wages equal to his product, it is for the interest of all (including his immediate competitors) that the best man should win; which is another way of saying that, where freedom prevails, competition and co-operation are identical. For further proof and elaboration of this proposition I refer Mr. Horn to Andrews’s Science of Society and Fowler’s pamphlets on “Coöperation”. The real problem, then, is to make the demand for labor greater than the supply, and this can only be done through competition in the supply of money or use of credit. This is abundantly shown in Greene’s “Mutual Banking” and the financial writings of Proudhon and Spooner. My correspondent seems filled with the sentiment of good-fellowship, but ignorant of the science thereof, and even of the fact that there is such a science. He will find this science expounded in the works already named. If, after studying and mastering these, he still should have any doubts, Liberty will then try to set them at rest.
Fool Voters and Fool Editors.
Uncle Sam carries one hundred pounds of newspapers two thousand miles for two dollars, and still pays the railroad three times too much for mail service. An express company would charge twenty dollars for the same service; yet some people don’t know why all express stockholders are millionaires and the people getting poorer. In fact, some people don’t know anything at all and don’t want to. It is very unfortunate that such people have votes. — The Anti-Monopolist.
Yes, Uncle Sam carries one hundred pounds of newspapers two thousand miles, not for two dollars, but for one dollar, pays the railroad more than its services are worth, and loses about five dollars a trip.
Yes, an express company would charge twenty dollars for the same service, because it knows it would be folly to attempt to compete with the one-dollar rate, and therefore charges for its necessarily limited business such rates as those who desire a guarantee of promptness and security are willing to pay.
Uncle Sam nevertheless continues to carry at the one-dollar rate, knowing that this is a good way to induce the newspapers to wink at his villainies, and that he can and does make up in two ways his loss of five dollars a trip,— 1, by carrying one hundred pounds of letters two thousand miles for thirty-two dollars and forbidding anybody else to carry them for less, although the express companies would be glad of the chance to do the same service for sixteen dollars; and, 2, by taking toll from all purchasers of whiskey and tobacco at home and of various other articles from foreign countries.
And yet some people don’t know why the thousands of officeholders who are pulling away at the public teats are getting fat while the people are getting poorer. In fact, some people don’t know anything at all except, as Josh Billings said, “a grate menny things that ain’t so.” It is very unfortunate that such people are entrusted with the editing of newspapers.
An editorial in the “Alarm” lays down the following: “With liberty to capitalize all products of industry, in other words, to obtain credit upon labor performed, use would be joined to possession of land, ability to exploit nature would be secured to all, and in the absence of rent and interest nothing else would remain to exploit. Profits are but a sequence to interest and would fall with it.” How about this, Herr Most? Is this orthodox Communism or heretical private property? I have understood you to repeatedly tell me that Communism is essential to the abolition of human exploitation, and that to hope to abolish it by liberty of credit is all moonshine, and very antiquated moonshine at that. Yet I find this moonshine streaming forth from your adopted sister organ, the “Alarm.” Is it sunshine when it emanates from that quarter? If so, what kind of shine is “Freiheit’s,” — that of a star or a tallow candle? Is your right hand aware of what your left hand is about, Herr Most? How soon do you propose to warn your readers against these bourgeois heresies? Ought you not to boycott the “Alarm”? Or do you confess the truth of what I have already charged,— that it is immaterial to you what is taught by any man or paper, your sole test of fellowship with either being the readiness to hurrah for dynamite?
“To secure this healthful action of the units of society,” says the “Alarm,” “the Anarchist has but two points to lay down, both destructive, it may be, in so far as they propose the abolition of barriers which deny free course to cooperative effort. These are freedom of access to land and freedom to organize credit. The whole law and the prophets is contained in this proposition.” Let me see, Herr Most, how many years behind the times did you say this doctrine is? Or does that which is behind the times when Proudhon and Tucker teach it become abreast and even ahead of the times when Lum teaches it and you urge the people to support him in teaching it? Or have you concluded to get behind the times yourself?
To the Editor of Liberty:
I was honest in the questions I asked concerning the foundation on which Anarchism is aiming to build. I had thought considerably on the matter, and read in Liberty as it came in my way, and while the ideal was fair to look upon, it seemed to me one must have a loose method of reasoning to suppose its practical realization possible. I also found that those of my acquaintance who favored the idea reasoned from the standpoint of an imaginary, instead of a real, humanity, which left their arguments on the subject of no practical value.
I desired to see what showing you could give, if put to the test. I was ready to become an Anarchist, if Anarchism could be made to appear sensible, though I own I believed you would make the failure you have. In one thing I have been disappointed and pleased. You have had the manliness to face the dilemma in which you found yourself, and published my last question, and my summing-up, subsequently. I will give you credit for straight work, and this is more than I expected to be able to do.
When I wrote my last, I thought I was done, whether you published it or not, and I should have stopped there, if you had not published it, or, if you had published it, and simply made comments thereon, no matter what those comments might have been; but the challenge and threat bring me out once more. I will say on that, that I never thought of finding fault or being displeased with your “Tu Whit! Tu Whoo!” and that I do “relish the admixture of satire with argument” on fitting occasions. I am as much at home in a sea of controversy and irony as a fish is in water, so there is no occasion for your holding up out of sympathy for me. Just give me the intellectual thumps when you feel like it and can, and you need take no pains to have them sugar-coated.
And now for a few words on your last remarks. You accept my statement that it is as proper to enforce one social convention as another, provided there is any satisfaction in doing so. I find the difference between an Anarchist and a Governmentalist is nothing here. If there is any difference in the action of the two, it is not a difference in the principles which control it. There might be a difference in method, and a difference in the kind of social conventions which they wish to enforce. On both of these points I suppose I should have some sympathy with Anarchists like you. But when we prevent another from doing as he otherwise would, we govern him in that particular, and I see no advantage in denying it, or in trying to find another term to express the fact. In my judgment it is better to not attempt to beat around the bush, but to state plainly the social conventions and rights (for such as me who believe in rights) we wish to enforce, and such restrictions as we wish to free the world from, and fight it out above board and on that line.
You say “opportunity for all to take freely from the same cabbage patch is not equal liberty.” If all have opportunity to take freely, I do not know how any one can have any greater liberty, and if all have all there is, it looks to me “equal.” And further; I maintain that “equal slavery” is equal liberty. It is impossible to make one’s slavery complete; and no matter how small an amount of liberty is left, if the same amount is left for all, it is “equal liberty.” Equal does not mean much or little, but to be on a par with others. “Equal liberty” is not the phrase to express what you are after, and you will have to try again, or let it go that your ideas are either muddled or inexpressible.
It is also puzzling to know what you mean by “invasion.” It cannot be you mean invasion of rights, because you claim there are no rights to invade. But perhaps you are having in view some “social convention” to be invaded. In any case, “equal invasion” is “equal liberty.” Suppose you do not “respect another’s sphere of action,” that want of respect does not limit his liberty; it is not necessary for him to respect yours, and that leaves “equal liberty” in that direction.
I am glad I opened this question as I did, for I think I get from what you have written a clew to your bottom feelings on it; and if I do, we are not so far apart in aim as would appear, and I recognize that you may be of value in the reform world. I certainly hope that you may assist in loosening the grip of Government prerogatives relating to matters purely personal. Here we can work together.
[I am not conscious that I have shown any special courage or honesty in my discussion with Mr. Blodgett; perhaps this is because I am unconscious of having been confronted with any dilemma. If I have been as badly worsted as he seems to suppose, it is fortunate for my pride and mental peace that I do not know it. The “difference in the kind of social conventions which they wish to enforce” is the only difference I claim between Anarchists and Govern-mentalists; it is quite difference enough,— in fact, exactly equal to the difference between liberty and authority. To use the word government as meaning the enforcement of such social conventions as are unnecessary to the preservation of equal liberty seems to me, not beating around the bush, but a clear definition of terms. Others may use the word differently, and I have no quarrel with them for doing so as long as they refrain from interpreting my statements by their definitions. “Opportunity for all to take freely from the same cabbage patch is not equal liberty,” because it is incompatible with another liberty,— the liberty to keep. Equal liberty, in the property sphere, is such a balance between the liberty to take and the liberty to keep that the two liberties may coexist without conflict or invasion. In a certain verbal sense it may be claimed that equal slavery is equal liberty; but nearly every one except Mr. Blodgett realizes that he who favors equal slavery favors the greatest amount of slavery compatible with equality, while he who favors equal liberty favors the greatest amount of liberty compatible with equality. This is a case in which emphasis is everything. By “invasion” I mean the invasion of the individual sphere, which is bounded by the line inside of which liberty of action does not conflict with others’ liberty of action. The upshot of this discussion seems to be, by his own confession, that heretofore Mr. Blodgett has misconceived the position of the Anarchists, whereas now he understands it. In that view of the matter I concede his victory; for in all intellectual controversy he is the real victor who gains the most light. — Editor Liberty.]
A Few Words More with Zelm.
No, I am scarcely better satisfied with your restatement than with the original. I think I did not misunderstand your use of the word control. “The establishing and defining, by the mother, for the child, of those limitations which fate sets for us all” is just what I objected to. I admit that children are somewhat more liable to go wrong than are their mothers; but the difference is not so great as to require a separate standard for their respective rights. I deny the exclusive right of Ellen to control the destiny of little Frank. I have seen cases where Ellen was the cruel tyrant, instead of Mr. Brown. Neither of them have any right to control the little one, more than they have to control one another. Nor has Frank any right, on account of his babyhood, to control them. He stands upon the same identical platform with them.
Your position seems to be that, because a child is not qualified to act at his own cost, because he is not qualified to act wisely and justly, he is to be subjected to the will of another. I see no difference between this and the position held by the Czar. If only the wise and just are entitled to autonomy, we should, I think, surrender, at once, and sue for amnesty and absolution. If we are not individuals till we become fully developed, I fear we all shall need governors, to the end of this life, at least.
I cannot doubt that Zelm, in practice, would respect the individuality of the little one, as truly as I would; but her reasoning does not seem to indicate the fact. Her position I cannot indorse. I believe we are born sovereign. Eights do not depend upon growth. They do not themselves grow, or change, under any circumstances. They are not based on the judgment of our mothers. They are not derived from any power outside of ourselves. This is sovereignty. It cannot be lost or alienated. We do not cease to be sovereign when we are invaded. All are sovereign, even though not equally free. We have the right to freedom, just the same, when not free. As sovereigns we have the right to invade one another; also the right to repel invasion. These are our prerogatives. There is no one over us to call us to account.
There is, however, a law that we cannot evade or ignore. It is the law of reaction. There is a question of expediency, a question of self-interest. What we have a right to do does not always pay. It does not pay to invade, to curtail the freedom of another, not even of the ignorant and weak. The philosopher views this in a different light from that of the mob. The majority honestly believe that it is nice and profitable to do wrong, in a legal and honorable way. This opinion has been inherited, from generation to generation, till the very ideas of right and wrong have become confused. The craving for power over others has become hereditary. Even our loved ones have become our property. Not to own somebody is to be nobody. It cannot be expected that mothers will be exempt from the universal mania. It requires great moral force and clear moral perception to rise above it. It is not to be wondered at, that woman, herself enslaved and crushed and struggling for freedom, should crave the proprietorship of her own child. Only as she becomes free and strong and self-poised will she feel to abandon this last relic of barbarism. She is under no obligation to abandon it. It is a matter of taste. She has a right to control the father, too, if she can. There is but one question. Does she, on the whole, want to?
Wichita Falls, Texas.
[Gramont in L’Intransigeant.]
France is the land blessed with monopoly. Here monopoly flourishes, here it prospers. Here it is respected, loved, protected. Monopoly is at home here and bars the path of progress, with the permission of the authorities and the guarantee of the government.
The Omnibus Company has a monopoly; and any one who might like to put at the disposition of the public, carriages more comfortable and better arranged than those of the Company, faster ones, with axles that would never break, would not have the liberty to do so.
The Gas Company has a monopoly,— the monopoly of lighting the streets of Paris. It uses it to light us inadequately and during a ridiculously short portion of the night. It retards the advent of the electric light, which is manifestly superior. Fortunately this monopoly will have an end, for the municipal council will not renew it.
The Match Company has a monopoly. It uses it to give us bits of wood so amorphous that the most energetic scratching is powerless to overcome their resistance. “You may break us,” these incombustible splinters seem to proudly say to us, “but burn us, never!” Much anxiety has been felt of late upon the subject of fires. The Match Company does what it can to avoid responsibility for such a disaster. To pretend that anything could take fire by the aid of administration matches is an idea that will never enter anybody’s head.
Nevertheless some bold minds have the audacity to observe that, the duty of a match being to light, if those of the Company do not fulfill that function, for which they are created and put into the world, good citizens should be permitted to have recourse to other means of procuring fire. These are subversive theories, to which the Company replies with severity that the duty of a match is, not to bum, but purely and simply to come from the government, and that the duty of good citizens is to use those matches and no others.
But if you go further and buy and use matches not invested with the government stamp, it will make you smart for it. You become an offender, you fall under the arm of the law, and you will feel its rigor, provided you get caught.
I have even been told that the tinder-box, the ancient and innocent tinder-box, has been prohibited under certain forms and with certain improvements. Recently some one showed me a tinder-box of a new sort. I did not have time to examine the system. All that I can say is that it consists of a needle enclosed in a case; you draw it out and pass it quickly over a bit of tinder fastened in a tube attached to the case, and the tinder lights. I asked where this invention could be procured, and was told that it was not to be found in France, its sale not being authorized because it would injure the famous monopoly.
I have not had the leisure or the opportunity to verify this assertion. But it would not be at all astonishing if it were true. The way in which sellers and buyers of so-called contraband matches are hunted down, the unprecedented searches often made by the Company’s agents, are not much more extraordinary. And when one thinks of the vexatious measures often pointed out, he wonders why, when a gentleman in the street, who wishes to light his cigar and has no matches, asks another smoker whom he meets for fire, he is not regarded as an offender. In fact, in so acting, he saves a certain number of matches (for he would certainly have to scratch a dozen before finding a good one), and consequently damages the Company.
But I shall be told that, from the moment a monopoly exists, it is necessary to protect it; else it would no longer be a monopoly. I perfectly agree. I simply point out that, to effectively defend a monopoly, logic leads us to Draconian and perfectly ridiculous measures. For that matter, it is this that assures the continuance of monopolies among us. For he was very much mistaken who said that in France ridicule kills. Very far from killing, it gives life. We see striking proofs of it every day.
A Normal Function.
To the Editor of Liberty:
During the discussion on parentage it occurred to me that many men will certainly desire to contribute to the support of their children without claiming to influence the mother otherwise than by advice. Such desire is normal and healthy; and it is reasonable, kind, and honorable for the mother to allow it proper satisfaction.
Love, Marriage, and Divorce,
And the Sovereignty of the Individual.
Henry James, Horace Greeley, and Stephen Pearl Andrews.
Mr. Greeley’ Reply to Mr. Andrews.
Continued from No. 129.
It is very clear, then, Mr. Andrews, that your path and mine will never meet. Your socialism seems to be synonymous with egotism; mine, on the contrary, contemplates and requires the subjection of individual desire and gratification to the highest good of the community, of the personal to the universal, the temporary to the everlasting. I utterly abhor what you term “the right of woman to choose the father of her own child,” — meaning her right to choose a dozen fathers for so many different children,— seeing that it conflicts directly and fatally with the paramount right of each child, through minority, to protection, guardianship, and intimate daily counsel and training from both parents.* Your sovereignty of the individual is in palpable collision with the purity of society and the sovereignty of God.** It renders the family a smoke-wreath which the next puff of air may dissipate,— a series of “dissolving views,” wherein “Honor thy father” would be a command impossible to obey,— nor, indeed, can I perceive how the father, under your system, would deserve honor at the hands of his child. In such a bestial pandemonium as that system would inevitably create, I could not choose to live. So long as those who think as I do are the majority in this country, the practitioners on your principles will be dealt with by law like other malefactors; and, if ever your disciples shall gain the ascendancy, we will go hence to some land where mothers are not necessarily wantons, love is not lust, and the selfish pursuit of sensual gratification is not dignified with the honors due to wisdom and virtue.
Mr. James’s Reply.
To the Editor of the New York Tribune:
I declined controversy with your correspondent, Mr. S. P. Andrews, not because of any personal disrespect for him, but chiefly for the reason stated at the time, that his objections to my views of Divorce were trivial, fallacious, and disingenuous. I may now further say, that his general opinions on the subject in discussion between The Observer and myself, did not, besides, seem to me of sufficient weight to invite a public refutation. I may have been mistaken, but such was, and such continues to be, my conviction. It is, accordingly, more amusing than distressing to observe that your correspondent’s vanity has converted what was simply indifference on my part, into dread of his vast abilities. But lest any of your readers should partake this delusion, let me say a few words in vindication of my conviction.
We all know that marriage is the union, legally ratified, of one man with one woman for life. And we all know, moreover, that many of the subjects of this union find themselves in very unhappy relations to each other, and are guilty of reciprocal infidelities and barbarities in consequence, which keep society in a perpetual commotion. Now, in speaking of these infidelities and barbarities, I have always said that they appeared to me entirely curable by enlarging the grounds of Divorce. For, holding as I do, that the human heart is the destined home of constancy and every courteous affection, I can not but believe that it will abound in these fruits precisely as it becomes practically honored, or left to its own cultivated instincts. Thus, I have insisted, that if you allowed two persons who were badly assorted to separate upon their joint application to the State for leave, and upon giving due securities for the maintenance of their offspring, you would be actually taking away one great, existing stimulant to conjugal inconstancy, and giving this very couple the most powerful of all motives to renewed affection. For, unquestionably, every one admits that he does not cheerfully obey compulsion, but, on the contrary, evades it at every opportunity; and it is a matter of daily observation that no mere legal bondage secures conjugal fidelity, where mutual love and respect are wanting between the parties. You instinctively feel also that a conjugal fidelity which should obey that motive chiefly, would be a reproach to the name. You feel that all man’s relations to his fellows, and especially to woman, should be baptized from above, or acknowledge an ideal sanction before all things, and that where this sanction is absent, consequently the relation is either strictly infantile or else inhuman. In respect to this higher sanction and bond of conjugal fidelity, you call the legal bond inferior or base. As serving and promoting the former, one deems the latter excellent and honorable; but as ceasing any longer to do so, you deem it low and bestial. Now I have simply insisted that the legal sanctions of marriage should, by a due enlargement of the grounds of Divorce, be kept strictly subservient and ministerial to the higher or spiritual sanction, having, for my own part, not the shadow of a doubt that, in that case, constancy would speedily avouch itself the law of the conjugal relation, instead of, as now, the rare exception.
In this state of things your correspondent appears on the scene, professing, amid many other small insolences and puerile affectations, not to be “cruel” to me, and yet betraying so crude an apprehension of the discussion into which he is ambitious to thrust himself, that he actually confounds my denunciation of base and unworthy motives in marriage, with a denunciation of the marriage institution itself! I have simply and uniformly said that the man who fulfills the duties of his conjugal relation from no tenderer or humaner ground than the law, whose penalties secure him immunity in the enjoyment of that relation, proves himself the subject of a base legal or outward slavery merely, instead of a noble and refining sentiment. And hereupon your sagacious and alarming correspondent cries out, that I resolve “the whole and sole substance of marriage into a legal bond or outward force, which is diabolical and should be wholly abolished and dispensed with.” Surely your correspondent must admit, that when a man and woman invoke the sanction of society to their union, neither they nor any one else look upon society’s action in the premises as a constraint, as a compulsion. Why? Because society is doing the precise thing they want it to do. With united hearts they beg of society to sanction their union, and society does so. Your correspondent can not accordingly be so dull as to look upon society’s initiatory action as compulsory? The marriage partners, at this period, are united by affection, and they deride the conception of a compulsory union. But, now, suppose that this affection, from whatever cause, has ceased, while the legal sanction of their union remains unchanged; can not your corespondent understand that the tie which now binds them might seem, in comparison with the pure and elevated one which had lapsed, “a base legal bondage, a mere outward force?” If he can not, let me give him an illustration exactly to the point. I find a piece of private property, say a purse of money, which the law, under certain penalties, forbids me to appropriate. Out of regard to these penalties purely, and from no sentiment of justice or manliness, I restore it to the owner. Hereupon my spiritual adviser, while approving my act, denounces the motive of it as derogatory to true manhood, which would have restored the purse from the sheer delight of doing a right thing, or what is equivalent, the sheer loathing of doing a dirty one. What, now, would your correspondent think of a verdant gentleman who, in this state of things, should charge my adviser “with destroying the institution of private property, with resolving it into a base legal bondage, and dooming it to an incontinent abolition?” Would he not think that this verdant gentleman’s interference had been slightly superfluous? But whatever he thinks, one thing is clear, which is, that the realm of logic will not for a moment tolerate your correspondent’s notion of “Individual Sovereignty.” Whoso violates the canons of this despotic realm by the exhibition of any private sovereignty, finds himself instantly relegated by an inflexible Nemesis, and in spite of any amount of sonorous self-complacency, back to the disjected sphere which he is qualified to adorn, and from which he has meanwhile unhandsomely absconded.
I am sure that it is only this foolish notion of “the Sovereignty of the Individual” which obscures your correspondent’s mother wit. I call the notion foolish, because, as I find it here propounded, it is uncommonly foolish. As well as I can master its contents, it runs thus: That every man has a right to do as he pleases, provided he will accept the consequences of so doing. The proposition is strikingly true, although it is any thing but new. Thus you are at liberty, and have been so since the foundation of the world, to eat green apples, provided you will accept a consequent colic without wincing. Or you are at liberty to prostitute, by dishonest arts, your neighbor’s daughter, provided you are willing to encounter for so doing the scorn of every honest nature. Or the thief is at liberty to steal, provided he will bear the consequences of doing so; and the liar to lie, provided he will accept the consequences of lying. All these are instances of “Individual Sovereignty.” They illustrate the doctrine more than they commend it. For while no rogue ever doubted his perfect freedom to swindle, on condition of his accepting its consequences, I take it that no rogue was ever such a goose as to view that condition itself as a satisfactory exhibition of his sovereignty. As a general thing, rogues are a shrewd folk, and I suspect you would canvass all Sing-Sing before you would light upon a genius so original as to regard his four irrefragable walls as so many arguments of his individual sovereignty.
To think of a preposterous “handful of men” in the nineteenth century of the Christian era, “accepting and announcing for the first time in the world” – and no doubt also for the last – “the sovereignty of the individual, with all its consequences” – however disorderly, of course – “as the principle of order as well as of liberty and happiness among men!” Was ever a more signal proof given of the incompetency of democracy as a constructive principle, than that afforded by this conceited handful of fanatics? They are doubtless more or less men of intelligence, and yet they mistake the purely disorganizing ministries of democracy for so many positive results, for so much scientific construction, and identify the reign of universal order and liberty with the very dissolution of morals and the promulgation of abject license! In the discolored corpse they see only the blooming hues of life, and in the most pungent evidences of corruption recognize the flavor of immortality. Your correspondent professes to admire “pluck,” but it seems to me that the “pluck” which takes a man blindly over a precipice, and leaves him crowing at the bottom over an undamaged sconce and an unperturbed philosophy, necessarily implies the usual accompaniment of sheep’s-head also.
To be continued.
* In re-reading my reply, which follows, I perceive that I have made no specific answer to this position. I have only space now to say that, if, upon principle, “the State” can rightly interfere with parents to prevent them from making their own arrangements for rearing their offspring — namely, to carry on their education jointly, assign it to one of the partners, or to a third person — in order “to secure to each child, through minority, the protection, guardianship, and intimate daily counsel and training of both parents”; that, if the State can rightly interfere, and ought to interfere, to prevent the separation or parents on such grounds at all,— then it can also and ought to pass laws to prevent fathers, during the minority of a child, from going to sea, or to a foreign country, as his business interests may dictate, and generally from being absent more than twenty-four hours, or being caught more than thirty miles from home. The principle, as a principle, is just as good in one case as the other.
The fact is that, in nine cases out of ten, children had much better be reared by somebody else than by either one or both of the parents,— in many cases, by almost anybody else. I have yet to learn on principle or by observation that the mere capacity to beget children is any sufficient certificate of competency to rear them properly. — S. P. A.
** This point also requires an answer, which is, simply, that I claim the right for each individual for himself to judge of the purity of society and the sovereignty of God, instead of taking Mr. Greeley’s decision on the subject as final. Such is the sovereignty of the individual. — S. P. A.
Freedom and License in Love.
“Honesty is the best policy” we hear men declare, and perhaps it is true; but it strikes me that one would not find it altogether easy to explain why in so many instances those who practically follow this “best policy” receive no palpable evidence of the “goodness” of it, but, on the contrary, fare so poorly that the temptation to try again entirely loses its hold on them.
There are, to be sure, different standpoints from which to survey facts, and each has his own ideas of what is good, hotter, and best for him. In a question of adapting means to an end, how is it possible to pronounce on the man’s good when an accurate understanding of the end is lacking? So there may really be people to whose ends honesty is the policy host suited; but we are not now speaking of any particular class. We are looking at the question from a broad and general point of view.
Probably in no relation of life is the soundness of the quoted adage more discredited than in that of love. If the reader does not share this view, he is either exceptionally fortunate or uncommonly fresh and green.
I am a free lover,— that is. . . . really, I am unable to define it better. Can love be otherwise than free? Is there anything more spontaneous, natural, egoistic than love? No one can command love by force. No one can say to one’s self “let there be love” in me for this or that person with any prospect of calling it forth. Love, like thought, knows no other condition than freedom. When, therefore, I say I am a free lover, I am making myself ridiculous in my own eyes as well as in the eyes of others who observe life with some intelligence. Anybody who loves is a practical free lover; and anybody who discusses love theoretically with any degree of reason is a believer in. free love. Yet the moment I venture to say that, I become socially, politically, and industrially excommunicated. “What! a free lover?” everybody cries in horror and angry astonishment; “we have no room for such cynical and vile specimens of debased humanity in our midst.” I am branded as a licentious, impure creature, a libertine, a rapist, one, in fine, with whom it is unsafe to leave a daughter, sister, or young wife for a moment.
Talk, now, I beg of you, about honesty being a good policy! What treatment do I receive at the hands of those to whom I truthfully confess my free-love opinions? Polite society shuns me; the mob would lynch me; liberal and mild-reform gentle folks hasten to disclaim sympathy or fellowship with me; ordinary folks run away from me, regarding me as a dangerous fiend, a sworn enemy of innocent virginity. Even radical and fearless innovators are not without their suspicions. While willing to recognize me on the street and address me as a co-believer in print, they systematically avoid all such relations as would involve the necessity of introducing me to their family.
Who remain? The few unfortunate who think and mourn with me, and, I thought, “Minnie.” Of “Minnie’s” tenderness I have always confidently assured myself. Is not she a free lover — as the world defines free love? Would she think me strange and unworthy of her good estimate? Alas! the other day I discovered my mistake. Having, in a communicative mood, under very delightful circumstances, confided to her my views on marriage and family relations, she languidly expressed her disapproval of what she contemptuously called “my free-love business.” Theoretically she was opposed, not only to her freedom without love, but to freedom in and with love.
Thus, whether it is true or not that “all the world loves a lover,” it is plainly seen that all the world hates a theoretical free lover.
See now the lot of him who is really guilty of all that the theoretical free lover is falsely charged with. The real libertine and seducer, who knows nothing and cares nothing about love, realizing that honesty is not the best policy for him, never allows himself a light remark about the holy institutions which he secretly undermines. On the contrary, he improves every opportunity to display exuberant admiration for virtues and purity, glorifies the sanctity of marriage, and goes wild at the mention of free love, joining White Cross societies for the suppression of male impurity, and loudly offering his praise of the noble work of Comstock in destroying obscene and indecent literature. His virtue brings him abundant reward. Considered respectable and moral, he has everything,— money, reputation, admiration, and. . . . the love of the women to whom he solemnly talks about the sacredness of the marriage view. Piety and eloquent conservatism in the drawing-room grant a free pass into the bed-room.
Everybody knows what favorites ministers are with women. For every sermon about morality and holiness of marriage they demand (and get) object-lessons in the doctrine that “all is vanity,” and, when a case of ministerial conduct occasionally comes before the courts, the women are found on the side of the pastor.
“How is it,” asked the boy Daniel Deronda of his tutor, “that popes and cardinals always have so many nephews?”
“Their own children were called nephews for the propriety of the thing; as you know, priests don’t marry.”
Marriage is a “sacrament” in the Catholic faith.
Recently a Protestant divine published a book to show “Why priests should wed,” it being his opinion that, instead of undergoing any privation of the flesh for the glory of the spirit, priests really have the greatest fun without any responsibility or annoyance. Under the circumstances, he thought, there would be more hardship in their marrying than in the prohibition.
This book was soon met by one (“Why should priests wed?”) in which it was shown that marriage does not at all interfere with the wide range of enjoyment which ministers have away from home. Is there reason to think that priests, if they should wed, would be better than ministers? Assuredly not.
Such facts, it would seem, ought to carry the conviction to all fair-minded people that the true free lover is the opposite of a libertine, and that the libertine Hyde will always endeavor to play the part of a virtuous Jekyll in society, and not injure himself by avowing principles uncongenial to Madam Grundy. But this feigned horror of theoretical free love on the part of those who practise it in concealment seems to be one of the characteristic shams and conventional lies of our civilization.
Love and Ideas, and Ideas about Love.
“Radical and fearless innovators” who avoid introducing you to their families have a curious sort of courage. It is peculiar, doubtless, to radicals who have “families.”
Honesty is the best policy in love, because it is the only policy that ever gets love,— love being the sympathy of those who can understand our real selves. You can confidently assure yourself of no woman’s tenderness after you have once proclaimed yourself a man in whose nature she can feel no sympathy. If you have won it before revealing your real nature, it never belonged to you, any more than anything obtained under false pretences, any more than the tender sympathy of a child for a beggar who is only feigning blindness.
But perhaps, as you loved Minnie instead of some woman who was a theoretical free lover, you also hate, without knowing it, the impenonations of your theoretical ideas. How comes it that you love a woman who hates your ideas? “Love has nothing to do with ideas,” you think? If that is true, how came you to have this conversation with Minnie at all? And why do you now care what she thinks about them?
I believe that love has everything to do with ideas. I believe it is absolutely true that only just so far as there is possible, latent sympathy in ideas does love ever exist between individuals; and that just as fast as a person develops normally and wholly growing, not unevenly, but completely, does his love harmonize with his ideas. Love is a perpetual yearning struggle for sympathy. It becomes a quiet, gentle, normal, life-giving impulse and power only as fast and as far as this sympathy is found and its free expression made possible. It becomes a troubled, wild, anxious, life-destroying fever and madness as fast and as far as this sympathy is lost sight of, or jarred upon, or intercepted in its manifestation. It is one of the finest and the truest of all Tchernychewsky’s thoughts to which he gives voice in his words to Véra, asleep “on the first evening of your love.” “Love is thought to be a startling feeling. Yet you will sleep as calmly and peacefully as a little child, and no painful dreams will trouble your slumbers; if you dream, it will be only of childish games or dances amid smiling faces. To others it is strange; to me it is not. Trouble in love is not love itself; if there is trouble, that means that something is wrong.”
That men are perpetually loving just the women whom no one can understand their loving does not tell against this conception of love in the least. It only seems that they are loving their opposites, women utterly unlike them. We are to remember that life is a continual reaching out after, never attaining to, a complete understanding of each other. And if, with their best efforts, lovers go through long lives without ever coming to completely know each other, how can we, who are not lovers, believe that we know any of these natures we so presumingly pry into as we pass? Life is full of mistakes. Human love is full of mistaken conceptions. Ellen is a timid woman, and she loves John, who is full of courage. Nothing is more clear or more conclusive to their friends. “People love their opposites”; so this easy-going world settles the matter. But the world is sometimes wrong. Ellen does not love timidity; neither does John. Allowing a child to be frightened at a critical period may as surely give birth to “the undying habit of fear” as a fall down stairs may make a hunchbacked woman. Ellen has only failed in attaining courage, and that only in one direction. In others she may even excel John; as he, and not we, may know.
“The erring painter made Love blind”; the best of ourselves we can never reveal except to those who most tenderly wish to know it.
But Ellen is the soul of honesty, and John, so the world knows, is not always a “square” man. Some people, who have had dealings with him, call him “tricky.” If it be so, and Ellen still loves John, one of two things is true. First, and most probably, that Ellen has not discovered this side of John’s character. And this may easily be. although we are perfectly sure of its existence. Ellen’s point of view is not ours. She can see nothing until it is brought within her range of vision. The second possibility is that, after being manifested to her in such a way that she is forced to believe it, her intellectual apprehension has not merged itself into a sentiment, and the habit of love goes on. Love does not die in a moment, or easily. A knowledge of falseness or of lesser worth in one we love must force its way against our will, against all the mighty tenderness to which our faith in his integrity has given birth. We cling to every straw of hope, to every suggestion of the possibility that our awakening was the dream, that the dream was the reality. John is cruel and Ellen is tender; but again, and again, and again can he explain to her that his alternative was no less than Hamlet believed his: to be “cruel that I may be kind.” There may or may not come the day when she can but see, and then begins — even then sometimes only begins — the death of her love.
It is not quite correct, it seems to me, to say that “anybody who loves is a practical free lover.” There are men and women who marry without love and who learn to love. Love comes to us as does thought; but love may be put away, as may a thought; or may be invited and encouraged, as may a thought. To control either absolutely is beyond us, but to surround ourselves with favoring or unfavoring conditions for their growth is in our hands.
R. S. speaks as if free love were only natural, spontaneous feeling, such feeling as all people who had not been — married, for instance, would have. But it is not quite, or only, that. It might be, if we were born free men or women. But we are born tyrants or slaves,— perhaps both. We breathe the air of slavery. We are taught the traditions of slavery. And our natural love is the love of tyrants or slaves. Free love is natural only as Anarchy is natural; both mean revolution. Both mean the overthrow of existing tyranny, and both may mean great and prolonged struggle. We do not become free lovers by simply letting ourselves be. Believing in freedom, we love, and we believe ourselves to be free in that love. We believe that we really and honestly wish to secure all freedom for those we love. What we really wish we can never know until some crisis of life has revealed to us the truth that freedom for those we love may mean such a change in all that has made our life smooth, easy, tranquilly beautiful and pleasant to us, that the new path on which we enter seems like an unexplored country, full of all possible dangers and evils. We must be put into a position where the happiness of those we love no longer depends upon us; where, although fate may have put into our hands the power of destroying it, it is quite out of our power to make it.
And all this is not at all our old dream of love. One may believe in freedom without having a true conception of freedom or seeing where it leads. We all know many honest and true-hearted people who are laboring for the reign of equity and justice in the economic realm, but who are quite likely to be startled almost out of their faith in general principles by some simple and quite correct application of them in a practical detail to which their thought has never reached. Men and women of today, children of the old, need all their strength and all their watchfulness to protect themselves against lapses and mistakes. And if they steadily keep freedom in view and resolutely follow “that high light whereby the world is saved,” they will not reach their journey’s end without much struggle, much real pain, and a patient abandonment of life’s easier joys. There are few landmarks as yet; the fight must be with untried weapons; there will be few who will undertake the strange journey; only “the unfortunate (?) few who think and mourn with us”; and the alleviations and compensations are, as yet, all unknown; only to be found by patient endurance, not assured by the experience of those who have gone before.
[In thanking Zelm for giving Liberty these excellent thoughts about love, I would at the same time ask her to read once more the article by R. S. upon which she comments; for I think she has failed to notice the vein of satire running through it. R. S., in my view, is far from seriously disputing that honesty is the best policy and far from maintaining that the “few who think and mourn with us” are really unfortunate. — Editor Liberty.]
They Agree with Henry George.
[Dr. Foote’s Health Monthly.]
The straight-laced doctors of the old school consider it improper for physicians to take out a patent on instruments, but they don’t hesitate to copyright a book. In this as in many other things they have the faculty of straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.
Now This Thing’s to be Settled.
I was gratified to see somewhat recently that the discussion of this theme [egoism] was taken up in the columns of the Boston Liberty. The Egoists lost their wits, however, and the Moralists their tempers, with the result that the latter refused to abide by the logical conclusions of their opponents’ opinions, and ceased to further contribute, thus suiciding in self-defence. I hope to find room to return to the subject in the next issue, when the position of the Anarchist will be unequivocally stated.
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.