“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.
If I had the address of the correspondent who asked “La Revolte” for a list of Anarchistic journals in the English language and was misled by its answer, I should send him the following reply: Liberty, “Lucifer,” “Honesty,” and the “Alarm”
General Lloyd Bryce, whose primitive simplicity verges on the point of positive idiocy, tells the Nihilists, in a “North American Review” article, that to blow up a Czar is not to destroy civilization. Oh, no; it is to kill barbarism and tyranny in the interest of civilization.
The essay on “Anarchism: Its Aims and Methods,” to which so much space is given in this issue, was written by Victor Yarros to be read at the first public meeting of the Anarchists’ Club, and has been adopted by the Club as an authorized exposition of its purposes. It will soon be issued in pamphlet form.
Stephen Pearl Andrews’ “Science of Society” ends in this number. But I shall follow it with a controversy on the Cost Principle which Mr. Andrews once had with the New York “Tribune” and which will serve admirably as an appendix to the “Science of Society” whenever I am able to publish that work in book form.
The Denver “Labor Enquirer” acknowledges the receipt of Gronlund’s new book, “C. A. Ira, or Danton in the French Revolution.” Who was this Monsieur Ira? Was he a Girondist or a Montagnard? Or is the same simply a pseudonym employed by Danton? Let us know something about this new figure in the French Revolution.
The next meeting of the Anarchists’ Club will be held in Codman Hall on Sunday, December 4, at half past two o’clock, and will be addressed by D. H. Biggs. Subject: “The Tendency to Anarchism.” In view of Mr. Biggs’s prominence as a labor reformer, the fact that this will be his first public utterance in favor of the Anarchistic movement will draw a large audience to listen to it.
By the article, “What is Needed,” reprinted in another column from “Lucifer,” it will be seen that E. C. Walker is again writing quite in his old vein. The article was evidently written in correction and rebuke of the senior editor of “Lucifer,” as it was preceded by an article from Mr. Harman’s pen in support of Moses Hull’s schemes for making over the government by the referendum and other ridiculously inadequate reforms.
Henry George consoles himself in his defeat by the encouraging consideration that “there are at least thirty-five thousand voters in the city of New York who cannot be seduced away from a principle.” Perhaps he will be more cheerful when I remind him that, when the prohibition vote of New York city is added to that of United Labor, the number of men who “cannot be seduced away from principles” will be as high as seventy thousand.
In pronouncing sentence upon Henry Tueber, one of the Union Hill people who were guilty of the great crime of wishing to hold a meeting to express sympathy with the stricken of Chicago, the judge told him that the existing institutions of this government “must be changed only by the ballot-box.” Then the next time that Mr. Morrison or Mr. Carlisle addresses a meeting in favor of free trade, he ought to have the hose turned on him,— the way in which the police dispersed the Union Hill meeting,— and be told to go to the “palladium of our liberty” if he wants to change existing institutions.
Henry George’s defeat did not affect God in the slightest degree: he got his usual share of taffy. “I thank God,” said Mr. George, “for our defeat; corrupt men will no longer be attracted to us.” When the land tax panacea proves an litter delusion, Mr. George will still be able to thank God for not exposing the government to the temptation of misappropriating the proceeds of the rental value of the land. But I fail to see how such indifference on God’s part to the new crusade can be harmonized with the oft-repeated assertion of McGlynn and George that God takes a deep interest in the success of the anti-poverty agitation.
The Providence “People” lays it down as one of three “fundamentals” that “every child should be guaranteed a free complete education, physically, mentally, morally, and industrially.” What is a complete education? Who’s got one that he can guarantee? Who, if he had one and nothing else, could afford to impart it to another free of charge? Even if he could afford to, why should he do so? Why should he not be paid for doing so? If he is to be paid, who should pay him except the recipient of the education or those upon whom the recipient is directly dependent? Do not these questions cut under the “fundamental” of the “People”? Is it, then, a fundamental, after all?
John F. Kelly recently asked the Detroit “Advance” some pertinent and puzzling questions regarding the relation of Ricardo’s theory of rent to the land value tax. Several hundred words were strung together in such a manner as to give the appearance of answers, but it requires an acuter mind than mine to discern their bearing on the questions. The “Advance” hopes that none of its readers “will fall into the mistake of thinking that John F. Kelly of New York is asking questions because he really wants to get information.” I hope that none of its readers will fall into the mistake of supposing that there is any one in the “Advance” office, now that Joe Labadie has resigned the editorship, who could by any chance be capable of giving Mr. Kelly any information whatever on a question of political economy.
Kropotkine’s paper, “La Revolte,” in answer to an inquiring correspondent, says: “Here is the list of the Anarchistic journals published in the English language which we know,— ‘Freedom,’ the ‘Anarchist,’ ‘Honesty,’ and the ‘Alarm.’” I call upon the editor of “La Revolte,” who has been familiar with Liberty from the beginning of its existence, to describe specifically the standard of Anarchism which admits “Honesty” and excludes Liberty. What does he find of an Anarchistic nature in “Honesty” which he does not find in Liberty? What does he find of an Archistic nature in Liberty which he does not find in “Honesty”? I might ask him the same questions, substituting the “Alarm” for “Honesty”; but, as the new “Alarm” had not appeared when he prepared the above list, he could not have foreseen that it was to differ from the old “Alarm” by not advocating Communism. If “La Revolte” had restricted its list to “Freedom,” the “Anarchist,” and the old “Alarm,” its classification would have been at least intelligible, whatever one might think of the standard adopted; but when it included “Honesty” and left out Liberty, its order became chaos. In every essential of Anarchism Liberty and “Honesty” stand on the same platform, and “La Revolte” cannot deny it. I ask my comrade Andrade, the editor of “Honesty,” as a favor to me, to state explicitly in his next issue whether I am right or wrong in this declaration.
Before the Chicago executions a correspondent of the Boston “Investigator” asserted that the men under sentence were all Infidels. The editor answered that “whether they are all Infidels may or may not be a fact, but our opponent gives no authority for making this statement.” A fortnight later another correspondent vehemently denied that the men were either Liberals or Infidels. Upon this the editor remarked: “We do not know whether they are Liberals or not; but as they are not subscribers to the ‘Investigator’ and supporters of it, the fair inference seems to be that they are not Liberals or Infidels.” If the subscription list of the “Investigator” contains the entire army of Liberals, and if the editor continues his present rate of decline into dotage, the entire army of Liberals will soon dwindle to the limits of Paine Hall and thence be speedily transferred to an asylum for imbeciles.
In the matter of scholarship there is much pretension and very little reality. It is an every-day occurrence to find men of high literary and philosophical reputation writing with the utmost confidence about matters of which they know little or nothing, and in their own special lines too. Now, one would suppose that such men as E. Belfort Bax and William Morris would not have attempted to write a historical treatise on “Socialism from the Root Up” without first thoroughly qualifying themselves by the requisite research. But that they did not do so is thoroughly established by the chapter which they devoted to so important a personage in Socialistic history as Proudhon. It is my belief that neither of them ever read “What is Property?” or any other of that author’s works. They may have looked between the covers of some of them and skimmed passages here and there, but even this seems almost impossible in view of the colossal error into which they fall when they say that “in Proudhon’s ‘What is Property?’ his position is that of a Communist pure and simple.” Let any one contrast with this nonsensically false statement the long extract from “What is Property?” on the subject of Communism which appeared in the last issue of Liberty near the end of my reply to General Walker, and judge for himself how much credence should be given to any unverified assertion that may hereafter emanate from either Bax or Morris. When I first read in the “Commonweal” their chapter on Proudhon, I dismissed it as too ridiculous for notice; but later, when a subscriber to Liberty wrote me that he had read it and was half inclined by it to think Proudhon a fool, I promised to give it some attention. This paragraph, however, if read in connection with the quotation in the last issue, will satisfy him, I think, especially when I assure him that the chapter contained other statements as literally false, and as a whole conveyed a false impression by its inadequacy, bias, and lack of appreciation.
The Science of Society.
By Stephen Pearl Andrews.
Cost the Limit of Price:
A Scientific Measure of Honesty in Trade As One of the Fundamental Principles in the Solution of the Social Problem.
Continued from No. 112.
242. But it may be objected that, if persons were able to hire stone houses free of rent, they would not hire others of more perishable material. Clearly not, if there were enough of the more permanent ones to supply the demand. If there were nearly enough, the less permanent and consequently more expensive ones would be less rentable and less salable, and would therefore offer a less secure investment for the capitalist. Hence, again, the tendency of this operation of the principle is to force the capitalist to build indestructible edifices, and, finally, to house the whole population free of rent? Is that consummation to be deplored? But at that point, urges the objector, houses cease to be salable; hence they cease to be property convertible into consumable products, and there will no longer be any motive with the possessor of surplus wealth to construct houses at all. Precisely so. But that point is just the point at which all the houses that are required by the whole people have been already built. Is there any calamity in ceasing to provide a supply when there is no longer any demand? It will be high time, then, that surplus capital shall be invested in other provisions for human wants, in loans to genius for the working out of new designs, and the like. There need be no fear, with the ever-rising scale of luxury and refinement, that there will occur any glut of the aggregate demand for such surplus accumulations.
243. The operation of the principle is again the same with reverence to machinery, and hence the Cost Principle settles triumphantly, as nothing else can, this, the most vexatious question perhaps of modern economical science. The machine earns nothing. The capital invested in it is merely kept good for the owner. The dividend due to the machine is solely the wear and tear of the machine. Hence machinery ceases to work against the laborer, and begins to work exclusively for him. Every member of community comes at once to participate equally in all the advantages of every labor-saving process. Wealth has no longer any monopoly of those advantages. Cost being the limit of price, the price of every product is reduced to every purchaser by just as much as the cost of its production is diminished by the aid of machinery. Hence machinery, like competition, now the enemy of the laborer, will be converted into his co-operating servant and most efficient benefactor.(159,163,208.)
244. I must not omit, before closing this chapter, to notice the remaining ground upon which the habit of paying interest on money, and consequently rent on capital, now rests, and along with it the power of capital over labor,– namely, the scarcity and expensiveness of the circulating medium hitherto in use. There is not enough of the so-called precious metals to serve the purposes of commerce as a proper medium of exchange, there intrinsic value and insufficient supply making them the subjects of monopoly in the hands of the money-dealers. This point has been already adverted to, and the remedy shown to be the substitution of the Labor Note.(77.)
245. It will be appropriate now also to say a few words in relation to the capacity of the individual Labor Note to expand into a general system of currency. As that capacity depends somewhat upon the prevalence of confidence consequent upon a general habit of honesty in the community, it could not be so favorably presented until the power of the Cost Principle in operation, to engender that habit, had been previously shown.
246. In every small community in which the Labor Note is used, there will be very soon some one individual whose notes will come more into use than those of others,— the storekeeper, for example, in the village. It will be safe for him to issue Labor Notes to any extent which he can redeem in his own labor, in goods from his shelves, or in the Labor Notes of others. His business will bring him continually into possession of the Labor Notes of all his customers,— at first only in payment for his own labor in serving them,–the cash cost of the goods being paid in cash,– but, finally, with the extension of the system which we are now supposing, for the original cost of the goods as well. Having these notes in possession, it will be the same thing whether he puts them in circulation, or whether he puts his own notes in circulation for an equal amount and retains those of his customers as the means of redemption. Convenience will be in favor of the latter method, so far as it shall be found in practice to be safe; which will be in proportion to the growth of the general habit of honesty; which will be again in exact proportion to the general adoption of the Cost Principle as the governing principle of commerce. Wherever the honesty of the storekeeper can be entirely relied upon, guarded as it will be by the usage of keeping his books entirely open at all times to the inspection of the public, the practice may grow up of each inhabitant of the village exchanging Labor Notes with him for as much currency as he requires for his own use, and issuing the notes of the storekeeper instead of his own. In this manner the storekeeper becomes the village banker, and makes out and signs all the currency in use in his neighborhood, and, as the doing so becomes a burden, charges the cost upon every issue. By this means the detail of each person’s signing and issuing his own notes will be finally avoided, and the banking of the village surrendered into the hands of one person. Every movement should begin, however, for safety, in general individual banking, much in the same manner as it will be found expedient and cheaper in practice, in the early stages of experiment under the Cost Principle, to go back to the manufacture by hand of many articles which are manufactured outside by the aid of machinery, and intrinsically, of course, at a much cheaper rate.
247. The system of banking in Labor Notes by the wholesale, or by one individual for a village, neighborhood or other community, thus begun, may be extended to the larger towns, and finally to the cities. In the large towns and cities, instead of the business being a mere appendage to the store or post office, it will become an independent branch of business by itself,– the banker issuing his own notes against those of smaller country bankers held in deposit, as theirs in turn are issued against those of a still smaller class deposited with them, and these again finally against the primary notes of the citizens generally. The notes of the metropolitan bankers will then become a national currency, issued without interest, to the whole community, and at no expanse beyond the cost of the mere labor involved in each exchange or issue.
248. It is obvious that such a system of banking is only adapted to a state of society in which there is a high state of confidence in individual good faith. It will be equally obvious, however, to every reader who has rightly apprehended the drift of this treatise, that such a condition of society will be the legitimate result of the application of right principles. It will be alike obvious to everyone who reflects that no true order of society can exist,– the problem to be worked out,– while bad faith and general dishonesty remains. The system of currency here slightly developed is adapted to society expurgated of those elements. Its benefits are immense. The fact that we cannot participate in them now may serve to remind us of the sacrifice we incur by adhering to principles which beget mutual overreaching and bad faith as their legitimate progeny.
249. We come, finally, to the consideration of the much-abused “Wages System.” To escape which Social Reformers of all schools have proposed rushing into combinations of interest of some sort, to the destruction, as we have seen, of individual sovereignty and freedom. The concrete of our existing labor and commercial arrangements is felt to be disharmonic and oppressive; hence every feature of it is liable to be denounced in turn, in the absence of corrective scientific discrimination between what is fundamentally right and wrong in the system. It is in consequence of this liability that Individuality has fallen into disrepute among Reformers, as if in it were the essential element of discord, whereas it has been shown that Individuality is the sole basis of all harmonic adjustment. In like manner the relation of employer and employed is stigmatized daily as vicious in itself, and the ideal is entertained of each individual being so employed as to be his own “boss,” to use the language of the trades, and to work solely for himself. No such arrangement is either desirable or feasible. It is not all men who are made for designers, contrivers, and directors. That is perhaps one of the most exact generalizations of mankind into classes by which they are divided into Originators, Organizers, and Executors. The first are least numerous, the second more numerous, and the last most numerous. It is right that those who originate should impress themselves on the execution of their designs, either directly, or through the intervention of the organizing class. Naturally each is content with the performance of his own function, according to this organization. The few only will desire to lead; the mass of mankind will prefer to follow, so soon as an equality of rewards renders it alike honorable either to follow or lead.
250. It is, then, a natural relation that one man should employ another to aid him in actualizing his design; that he who has a design to execute should adjoin to himself the labor of him who has none, or no other one than that of securing the means of his own subsistence in circumstances of personal comfort. For that purpose,– the execution of the design,– they two enter into a combination, while in interest they are still individual and distinct,– the interest of one being in his design, and that of the other in the wages he is to earn. But every combined movement demands an individual lead. Hence, in the execution of the design, the one must guide and the other follow, and the more absolute the submission of the one mind to the other, the more harmonious the movement. Hence, it is proper and right that one man should hire another, and, if he hires him, it is proper and right that he should remunerate him for his labor, and such remuneration is wages. Hence, it follows that the “Wages System” is essentially proper and right. It is right that one man employ another, it is right that he pay him wages, and it is right that he direct him absolutely, arbitrarily, if you will, in the performance of his labor, while, on the other hand, it is the business of him who is employed implicitly to obey,— that is, to surrender all will of his own in relation to a design not his own, and to conceive and execute the will of the other.
251. The wrong of our existing system is not, then, to be sought in Individualism, it is not to be sought in the want of Co-operation, except as that grows to some extent out of the want of Equity, nor is it to be sought in the relation of employer and employed. It is right that the great manufacturer should plan, and either alone, or through the aid of assistants under his direction, organize his mammoth establishment. It is right that he should employ and direct his hundred or his five hundred men. It is not true that those men do not even now co-operate with each other and with him, as it is right and proper that they should. (52.) It is right that he should pay them wages for their work. It is not in any, nor in all of these features combined, that the wrong of our present system is to be sought for and found. It is in the simple failure to do Equity. It is not that men are employed and paid, but that they are not paid justly, and that no measure of Justice or Equity has ever heretofore been known among men.
252. When all avenues are alike open to you and me, there is no hardship in the fact that I, having no genius for great enterprises, or preferring to avoid the responsible charge of them, choose freely to labor under your direction for the execution of your designs. It is great hardship, however, if I am first forced into that position by a system of labor and wealth which leaves me no election, and then robbed, by the operation of the same system, of one-half or two-thirds of my earnings, for your benefit. In the large establishment, such as we are now contemplating, conducted on the Cost Principle, the proprietor will realize no more in the form of pecuniary results from the undertaking than the humblest laborer employed by him, unless he works harder, and not so much if he does not work so hard,– taking into account all the elements of labor or repugnance, both physical and mental.
253. But who, if the temptations of profit-making were removed, would assume the responsibility and burden of devising, organizing, and conducting an extensive and complicated business concern? The question is thoughtlessly asked, and dictated by the control which old associations have over the mind. In the first place, the burden and responsibility, precisely such as they are, more or less, to the individual who thus assumes a leading position, as compared with the disagreeableness of other occupations as estimated by himself solely, are the limit of the reward of his function. The greater the burden the greater the price. The Cost Principle does not pronounce, arbitrarily, that the conductor of the large and complicated business shall be paid a very low price for his labor It merely decides that he shall be paid according to the relative degree of repugnance of that kind of occupation, as judged of by himself,— subject to no other checks than those which are supplied by his own conscience, and the competition of others who may deem it less repugnant than he. Hence, if that kind of occupation actually imposes an intrinsic burden ten times or one hundred times a great as mere executive labor, then the principle accompanies us quite out to that point, and gives to him who serves in that capacity ten or one hundred times as much price as to the ordinary laborer The principle hold good wherever it conducts; but the result will be, in fact, far otherwise. There are men who are organized for the lead of large and complicated enterprises, to whom positions demanding great powers of mental combination, and devolving heavy responsibilities, are the most attractive. By such, such positions will be filled at a pecuniary price less rather than more than will be awarded to labors less flattering to the tastes and to the ambition for leading and responsible posts.
254. There is a class of Communist Reformers to whom this whole discussion relating to price will be distasteful. They wish to be rid of price altogether. They aspire to arrive, by a short cut, at a condition of society in which labor shall be solely according to attractions, and supply only measured by the wants of the individual. That ideal has in it, doubtless, a partial prophecy of the truth. It is, however, like the point of no friction in machinery,– a point always to be aimed at, and continually approximated, but never absolutely attained. The tendency to a modified practical communism will develop itself in proportion to the relaxation of the hold of the individual upon private property or possession, which will be again in proportion to the prevalence of general abundance. The effect of the Cost Principle will be to augment the general wealth by means of the Economies, Attractive Industry, and a more perfect Co-operation; hence the tendency of the Cost Principle, in operation, will be toward the extinguishing of all price. Price being according to repugnance, it will constantly decrease with the more attractive conditions of industry until, if the point be ever attained at which all labor shall be done from pure attraction, price will cease altogether. Hence, in so far as the Communist has faith in the possibility of attaining the conditions, may he have faith in that result. The Cost Principle begins with us, then, in the midst of repugnant labor as it now is, and does Equity there. It accompanies us with the decrease of repugnance and renders the price less, and finally it attends us quite out to the ideal point of pure attraction and the cessation of all price. It is the mistake of the Communist to assume that the goal has been attained, or that it is possible to attain it by any sudden leap, avoiding the intermediate steps.
255. Still it is important to observe that the absence of price is not the absence of ownership, which last in confusion. Hence, the Cost Principle never lands in Communism in that sense. All property will still belong to individual owners, who will exercise absolute rights over it,– as an essential condition of order,– even though a price be not demanded. Take an illustration. A drink of water, a pin, or a wafer is not now ordinarily a subject of price, as articles of more considerable value will not be with greater abundance, and still they belong to individual owners. You will take a wafer from my desk without even consulting me. It is not worth my while to assert my ownership. But if on doing so repeatedly you render yourself offensive by puffing tobacco smoke in my face, or otherwise, I fall back upon my right of property, and refuse you the accommodation.
256. In conclusion, it will strike the judicious reader that the Cost Principle is wonderfully searching, subtle, and exact; that it marks the line with precision between what is right and what is wrong in the present system, and between what is right and what is wrong in all the proposed systems of Social Reform; that it is eclectic and discriminating; that it combines, in fine, the simplicity of fundamental truth in its primary statement with that minuteness of application to the most ramified details which entitle it to the appellation of a Universal Principle.
By Georges Sauton.
Translated from the French for Liberty by Sarah E. Holmes.
Continued from No. 112.
“I accuse you,” said she with emotion, “of having given orders for the murder of my venerated master,” and she recounted the horrors of the assault of Gowan’s Mob.
The Duchess smiled disdainfully, and replied that she would not condescend to such puerile denials. The priest had conspired against the castle, as formerly 199 he had conspired against the village. In civil wars equivocal persons, double traitors, merit death at the hands of both the opposing parties. Therefore she assumed the responsibility of this execution.
She fixed her bold eyes upon the old servant, who turned hers away in the confusion of such insolence; and, becoming excited in this game for the defence of her menaced body, certain that her beauty in this duel was enhanced by her animation and her will to captivate the assembly, she cast triumphant glances in all directions to gain partisans for herself.
“And the death of Sir Newington, the Duke, your husband, do you assume that also, with a light heart?” asked Treor, in the midst of a general murmur.
“What do you mean by that?” demanded several voices, those of the Lords, friends of the deceased and of the Duchess. . . .
And, simulating utter stupefaction, like a true actress, her mouth slightly gaping, her eyes rounded, Lady Ellen looked at Treor, and shook her head with a movement which signified: Has he gone mad, or does his impudence know no bounds?
Then, turning towards the assembly, she explained her mimicry.
“I have pitied this old man,” she said with an extraordinary audacity, with convincing inflections of the voice; “perhaps in the intoxication of hasheesh he does not remember; at least it may be that the misfortunes of his country, the disasters about him, the implacable war, have deranged his faculties. The death of Newington, the crime to which the Duke succumbed, is his work!”
“Over the body of the victim,” said Treor, gravely, extending his hand over the catafalque, “I swear that I am innocent of this crime, even by way of retaliation, by imprudence, by accident; Duchess, approach then, and take, if you dare, the same oath.”
Feigning not to understand that he accused her, and as if he had simply invited her to support her testimony by this solemn act, she said:
“He submits me to the oath on the subject of the murder of my regretted husband; well! I swear, and is there really need of my swearing? Can there be hesitation between my affirmation and his? I swear that everybody knows that which report has published everywhere, without encountering the shadow of a doubt. This Treor, in his cell, played astonishing airs on his violin, more than supernatural in their character, and it was I who had the weakness, the charity, the humanity, to have his violin given him to lighten the rigors of his captivity, which were extreme at his age.”
“By premeditation!” interrupted Paddy Neill, whose frightful face impressed the Duchess painfully.
She continued, however, with the same volubility:
“I listened, ravished and at the same time enervated, to this demoniacal music. . . . and the Duke offered to send for the musician, and I made the mistake of accepting. Once before us—but I repeat that of which no one is ignorant, and I must annoy with my repetitions. Once before us, he was no longer a man; he was like one possessed; he was drunk, he was mad, a furious madman who abused 200 us, who insulted us, who lifted his hand against the Duke, who seized me by the skirt. . . .
“This is not the version which you at first fabricated?” said Treor, drily. “Silence for the accused!” cried Lord Muskery; “go on with your testimony, Duchess!”
“The servant who led me in,” resumed Treor, not at all disconcerted, “returned, attracted by my disorderly clamor,—for I was drunk, I admit, drunk from the hasheesh which they furnished me,—at my request, I confess, but granted for Lady Ellen’s purposes; this servant questioned the Duchess, and, to get him away, she responded that the Duke was in no danger; at that moment, he was rolling in frightful agony, a prey to infernal sufferings.”
“So that you claim the Duchess as your accomplice?” said Lord Jennings, sneering.
“The author of the crime!” declared Treor, in a strong voice, rousing among the English a storm difficult to calm.
Amid the tempest special clamors rose.
“Shameless, impudent fellow!” cried Muskery, addressing Treor, and, notwithstanding the bonds which fettered him, trying to walk towards him!
“He accuses innocence, virtue, of his crime!” thundered Jennings.
“Ah! why are we bound and made incapable of punishing this impostor as he merits?” resumed Muskery, trying to break his chains.
Their guardians bound them more securely, they too becoming more furious and reiterating the assertion of their chosen leader:
“Yes! Yes! the Duchess is only a vulgar poisoner!”
But Treor imposed silence on them, and coldly invited the others to calm their generous indignation.
“Criminals have counsel, but no champions,” said he; “listen to us, hear the witnesses, you may then present the defence of the guilty. . . .”
And, in spite of the protests, the burning comments, the curses of the Lords and rebellious friends of Lady Ellen, who became all the more turbulent as the repression showed signs of indulgence, Treor told the story, and again described his entrance into the room and the symptoms of poisoning shown by Sir Newington, already struck at that moment with the dagger picked up by Sir Richard on the battle-field.
“Very well invented!” said the Duchess.
“Don’t interrupt!” cried several persons at once, some of them even among the English.
The old man’s tone of simple sincerity, the authority of his frank and serenely majestic countenance, won him, little by little, the previously hostile part of the audience, and many of those who were not yet convinced at least desired to enlighten themselves by hearing to its close, this clear, cold, precise, crushing indictment.
The poignant phrases of the struggle of Newington against death, the sinister raillery with which Treor welcomed the enraged death-rattle, and then the emotion of the old man on being sobered by perceiving that he was dealing 201 with an unfortunate, his powerlessness to help him,—all this part of the narrative moved the hearts of the most unfeeling, and filled them with a belief in its truth.
And when Treor came to the hope of the dying man on recognizing the Duchess through the half-open tapestries, and in his paroxysm of rage suddenly divining that his death-blow came from her, Treor reproduced the scene with. such eloquence that no doubt existed save in a few minds, and he could command that the prisoners’ bonds be loosened, with no danger that these, once free in their movements, would use them to attempt, as they would have done two minutes sooner, some mad manifestation in behalf of Lady Ellen.
But a sudden change was worked in favor of the young woman when the old man, finishing the relation of the facts, recalled the furious outburst of the monstrous Lady, now she had gagged him with her little hands, thrown him down close to Newington, and then called, with all her might, in order that witnesses might establish the crime, exciting those who came in to rush on the pretended culprit and riddle him with mortal wounds.
“Kill him then!” she cried; “he breathes yet, open his veins; under the weight of your knees, under the blows of your heels, press out his old soul!”
Truly, this was too much honor, and, looking at the Duchess, her quiet features, her resigned smile of scorn at the enormity of the fable with which they were trying to overwhelm her, gave her the look of a grand person vilely slandered, who disdained to defend herself; and most of her partisans, who had been for an instant turned against her, turned back quickly, and protested anew.
A hardened criminal, a criminal by trade, who is at least not just beginning his career, could alone be capable of this persistence, of this artifice, of this ferocious desperation in crime.
He who wishes to prove too much proves nothing.
The adage pleaded victoriously against Treor, and they muttered it.
Vainly he recounted the supreme desire for vengeance which tortured Newington in his last convulsion, his attempt to drag his poisoner with him to death, and in what way the Duke, in his vain rage, had died at the feet of the culprit.
A dull rumor, then interrupted by denials in an undertone, ran through the ranks of the nobility whose class feeling forbade them to accept the hypothesis of such acts of violence, customary among the lower orders, perhaps, but unknown in their aristocratic spheres.
Recourse to poison or the dagger would not be, on the whole, derogatory to the Duchess; but her nature would revolt at this pugilistic wrangling; her education, her elevation to the nobility, obliged her not to resort to such, even in the passion of the crime, even in the terror of being discovered.
No one pretended that the old man lied; that he knowingly, deliberately, and with an infernal assurance, accused the Duchess wrongfully; but, as they would recall, he confessed himself that he was in a state of deep intoxication from hasheesh!
All that he honestly believed he had seen was hallucination, a delusion of his perverted, obliterated senses; yes, the Duchess, intervening at the call of her husband, had, perhaps, brutally pushed Trevor away, imagining him the assassin; and Newington possibly caught hold of her, as a drowning man catches at his rescuer. As for the poisoning by the dagger, probably Treor, without criminal intention, had scratched the Duke, or the Lord himself had cut his skin.
In any case, Lady Ellen was clear of guilt. And her friends raised their voices to formulate such means of defence as would conciliate all ill feeling and close the debates.
On their counsel, the Duchess did not refuse to lend herself to this compromise; and when Treor drew from one of his pockets, as one of his proofs, the fine satin shoe perforated at the tip with the holes evidently made by desperate teeth, her advocates still explained the bite by the delirium of Newington, who, at the last moment, might easily have taken his pitying wife for an enemy.
“Yes, yes, that’s it! Let there be no more charges; let us proceed to the obsequies!” urged a considerable number of persons among the English.
“Yes!” sighed the Irish also, being in haste to finish and to leave this room, in which, under the suffocating heat caused by so numerous an assemblage, the decomposition of the body which had lain on the catafalque too long was proceeding more and more rapidly.
“Let us finish,” demanded Muskery, “and, outside of this place, of this impure air, you can do with us, your prisoners, what seems good to you.”
“Let the Duchess, then, confess her crime!” said Treor, slowly.
What! he persisted in his accusation! It was not enough for him to be acquitted of the charge which weighed upon him, and again a sudden change was observed, unfavorable to Lady Ellen.
Since the old man insisted in this way, it must really be that he believed in the guilt of the Duchess; and, imbued with justice as he appeared, it could not be that he founded his belief only on deceitful appearances.
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.
Light for a Light-Bearer.
Now that the long controversy between M. Harman and E. C. Walker, editors of “Lucifer, the Light-Bearer,” has been brought to a close, I accept the invitation of Mr. Harman (tendered to all his readers, of whom I am one) to express my views on his present attitude on the question of voting for repeal of bad laws. I hope that, when I am weighed in the balance of “gentility,” I shall not be found wanting, but will come up to the standard of Mr. Harman’s definition of a “true liberal, a logical Anarchist.”
In considering the question of the use of the ballot, it seems to me [am I modest enough, Mr. Harman?] the first question to be asked is whether we have a right to vote at all, or, to state myself in the language of Egoism, whether the existence of society and its highest interests can best be secured by allowing the free use of this instrument to the individual members thereof. And from the standpoint of the Anarchistic philosophy there can be but one answer to this question. Except in a society formed by intelligent people on a voluntary basis, voting is wrong, despotic, archistic, and unjustifiable. To vote is to govern; it is also to be governed. As an Anarchist, Mr. Harman must condemn both the tyranny and the slavery of the ballot in any society retaining the element of compulsion. If Anarchists should agree to manage the affairs of associations composed of their own kind exclusively on the modern plan of reciprocal tyranny and universal meddling as represented in the ballot institution, no question could be raised except that of sanity. But in the world as we find it today, with men divided into masters and slaves, to use the ballot is to become a partner in the gigantic conspiracy against equal rights and equity and to assume the responsibility for its existence.
Granting these propositions,— and I am unable to see how Mr. Harman can dispute them,— what argument is there in favor of voting for repeal which does not apply to voting for enactment of laws? I can discover no vital difference between attempting to saddle the people with laws which they do not all want and conspiring to repeal laws which part of the people cherish as beneficial and sacred. In both cases it is the use of force by the majority upon the minority. Individualists have as much right to disregard or abolish, for themselves, old laws imposed upon them against their consent as to establish new laws for their own observance; but they have no more right to compel people to wipe out laws which the latter desire to have on the statute books than to make them submit to new laws which they succeed in putting there. It’s a very poor excuse to claim the right to vote for the repeal of laws on the ground of unwittingly or ignorantly having been instrumental in enacting them, for “two wrongs never make a right.”
Perhaps at this point Mr. Harman will object to my discussing the question from the standpoint of Anarchistic principles, and justify his position by considerations of necessity and expediency. “Being in a state of war, it is impossible to be strictly faithful to principle; the right of self-defence entitles us to the use of any potent means to gain our independence.” Were Mr. Harman to make answer in this vein, I should certainly acknowledge his right to use the force of the ballot, just as I maintain that dynamiters have a right to throw bombs in self-defence, but the right to use the ballot would include the right to make laws as well as the right to unmake them. In fact, any method is justifiable in our war against the invasive and aggressive State. The question is simply one of policy and practical wisdom. As Mr. Tucker once expressed it, in the matter of offering resistance to and using force against the State, the thing to settle is what form of resistance resists best, which is the most forcible of all kinds of force. And, looking at the ballot from this point, nothing can be said in its favor. It is the poorest, the most impotent, the most uncertain of weapons. Even Mr. Harman is forced to admit that it is almost impossible to get a law repealed through the ballot. If I were to become disappointed in the power of passive resistance and confronted with the alternative of adopting either dynamite or ballot-box force as a weapon against the State, I should choose dynamite without a moment’s hesitation. Not only is it far more powerful, but it has the additional merit of being preeminently a revolutionary force, while the ballot is a legal instrument and is used by all friends of “law and order.” To propagate Anarchism while regularly visiting the polls is impossible, because the people will in nine cases out of ten note your act without paying any attention to your long-winded explanations, and the act being seemingly a contradiction of the Anarchistic principle, derision and contempt will fall to your lot.
There are other considerations to be advanced in opposition to voting, but I will reserve them for some future time, giving now the floor to Mr. Harman, if he chooses to reply.
An Inconsistency Accounted For.
- Walker, commenting in “Lucifer” upon my notice of the reappearance of the “Alarm,” calls me to account for crediting as editor, Dyer D. Lum, with a knowledge and understanding of “philosophical Anarchy,” when, in that very issue of the “Alarm” which I was reviewing, he had resented the Denver “Labor Enquirer’s” allusion to the Chicago victims as “so-called Anarchists.” Mr. Walker argues that, if Mr. Lum really understood Anarchism himself, he would not commit the gross error of claiming Parsons and his comrades as Anarchists, but would class them as advanced Socialists, as the “Labor Enquirer” does.
This argument, it must be admitted, has every appearance of validity, but this is because it leaves one fact entirely out of the account,— namely, that Mr. Lum is a very peculiar man. When it suits his purpose to be inconsistent, no absurdity appalls him. The more glaring it is, the more savage the enjoyment he takes in entertaining it.
By the side of some of the Chicago men he in the past had worked. He knew them and he loved them. But in the course of time he outgrew them in his thought. Although he knew this perfectly well, still, when they got into trouble and by their noble conduct won the admiration of all men capable of admiration, the old feeling of comradeship was so strong in him that he could not bear to hear another, even a friend, declare that these men were fundamentally in error. He has been steadily willing to make such a declaration himself, but has claimed the privilege of doing so as a monopoly. In No. 93 of Liberty he spoke thus of Spies: “An old Socialist, he has learned that the ballot is a superstition, and this he believes to be Anarchy! . . . . State Socialist as he is,— but without knowing it,— I shall ever keep his memory green.” But if any one else ventured to say as much, he would shut his eyes to all his sober discussion of principles, and blindly, wilfully, obstinately deny it.
This is Mr. Lum’s peculiarity.
Hence, when I saw his paragraph of rebuke to the “Labor Enquirer,” I knew how to take it. I knew that the pulsations of a warm heart had temporarily beaten his reason into submission and made him utterly careless for consistency. I lamented the fact, but I could not let it outweigh for a moment the evidence of his intelligent hold on Anarchistic doctrine which his editorials showed.
Mr. Walker, however, has done well to point out the inconsistency, for it was dangerously misleading to the average reader. But I find it not a little amusing that Mr. Lum, who not long ago announced in “Lucifer” that he should revive the “Alarm” and thereby draw away from “Lucifer” the fire which Liberty was then pouring into it, should receive his first broadside, not from Liberty, but from “Lucifer” itself.
Violence Breeds Violence.
Every believer in Socialism, in Communism, in Anarchism, and in every other ism, who thinks, or who has the faintest idea, that any permanent good can be done in the world by the use of violence should stop and study well the passions raised in his own heart by the Chicago executions. He will find there, among other things, and in varying quantities, rage, contempt, a strengthened desire to annihilate the State, as firm a belief as ever in his principles, and a fierce determination to continue in his work. Then he should stop again and study equally well the fact that it is these same passions which he aroused in the hearts of the State’s people every time he says anything about using violence. After he has considered how little effect the State’s violence has upon him and upon his belief in his principles and his advocacy thereof, he can spend a little time profitably in thinking what an equally small effect his talk about violence is going to have on the people who constitute the State, who believe that in its American form it is the perfection of human political wisdom, and that in its continuance lies the only hope, not only of their safety, but also of benefit to the race. He can terrify them, and in their terror they can only strike back and hug their beliefs all the closer. What ought to be, if it has in it any truth whatever, and what must be, if it is to have any root whatever, a struggle of intellectual forces and the final supremacy of that which shows the stronger reason and the greater utility, can become, by the use of violence, nothing but a brute battle for physical supremacy with a rabid determination on each side to exterminate the other.
And it happens that the probabilities of extermination are all on the wrong side.
F. F. K.
The Boycott and Its Limit.
London “Jus“ does not see clearly in the matter of boycotting. “Every man,” it says, “has a perfect right to refuse to hold intercourse with any other man or class from whom he chooses to keep aloof. But where does liberty come in when several persons conspire together to put pressure upon another to induce or coerce him (by threats expressed or implied) to refrain also from intercourse with the boycotted man? It is not that the boycotted man has grounds of legal complaint against those who voluntarily put him in coventry. His complaint is against those who compel (under whatsoever sanction) third persons to do likewise. Surely the distinction is specific.” Specific, yes, but not rational. The line of real distinction does not run in the direction which “Jus” tries to give it. Its course does not lie between the second person and a third person, but between the threats of invasion and the threats of ostracism by which either the second or a third person is coerced or induced. All boycotting, no matter of what person, consists either in the utterance of a threat or in its execution. A man has a right to threaten what he has a right to execute. The boundary-line of justifiable boycotting is fixed by the nature of the threat used. B and C, laborers, are entitled to quit buying shoes of A, a manufacturer, for any reason whatever or for no reason at all. Therefore they are entitled to say to A: “If you do not discharge the non-union men in your employ, we will quit buying shoes of you.” Similarly, they are entitled to quit buying clothes of D, a tailor. Therefore they are entitled to say to D: “If you do not co-operate with us in endeavoring to induce A to discharge his non-union employees,—that is, if you do not quit buying shoes of him,—we will quit buying clothes of you.” But B and C are not entitled to burn A’s shop or D’s shop. Hence they are not entitled to say to A that they will burn his shop unless he discharges his non-union employees, or to D that they will burn his shop unless he withdraws his patronage from A. Is it not clear that the rightful attitude of B and C depends wholly upon the question whether or not the attitude is invasive in itself, and not at all upon the question whether the object of it is A or D?
It was amusing and highly gratifying in the recent political campaign to hear that pair of time-servers, Patrick Ford and Henry George, tell the truth about each other. “They who undertake to ‘knock out’ the Old Man at the Vatican undertake a mighty big contract.” In saying these words Patrick spoke from experience. He once ventured into the ring himself with the Pope for an antagonist. But while he was proudly putting in his biggest licks, the crafty Roman slugger dealt him a blow that brought him permanently to his knees. It took the shape of a boycott upon the “Irish World.” The priests alone who “stopped their paper,” to say nothing of their obedient flocks, were numbered by thousands. Patrick promptly threw up the sponge, and from that day to this no more subservient lickspittle than he has knelt before the Catholic hierarchy. Consequently, on receiving orders a few weeks ago to himself take part in boycotting the new rebel, McGlynn, and his backer, George, he obeyed with all haste, and the same double-leaded, double-column rhetoric in which Patrick used to hurl defiance at the Church has lately been doing duty against the priest whose rebellion he at first aided and abetted and the “prophet” who was once his chosen guide in political economy. Little sympathy, however, for McGlynn, and none at all for George, can be felt by those who have witnessed the cowardice and treachery which both priest and “prophet” developed as soon as they became politicians and began their scramble for votes. Their course has enabled the contemptible Ford to cover them with the same contempt that long ago stripped him of the vast influence which he once possessed.
In the dispute between M. Harman and E. C. Walker, editors of “Lucifer,” concerning the ballot as an Anarchistic instrument, Harman described Walker’s position as “a very decided reversion or declension towards the impractical, the ultra-individualistic, the intensely egoistic, the pretentious, the arrogant, the exclusive, the intolerant propaganda of B. R. Tucker are the rest of the so-called ‘Philosophical Anarchists.’” A famous German writer, Borne, was once subjected by an opponent to an onslaught not unlike the above in its free use of adjective epithets. Borne replied that this method of argument was very easy; that there was no art in it at all; that it needed only a dictionary. And thereupon he rained upon his opponent’s head three solid pages of epithets taken from the dictionary in their alphabetical order. I mention this here simply as a hint to Mr. Harman of how I might return his compliments in kind, were not the pages of Liberty too valuable.
In the introduction to his book on “Danton,” Laurence Gronlund says that he assumes “the cooperative commonwealth [or State Socialism] to be, if not the final, at least the next stage in the evolution of human societies.” Has it dawned upon the mind of this Socialist author that Anarchy is to be the ultimate condition of social existence?
Was This George’s Doing?
[J. K. Ingalls in Social Science.]
It seems beyond question that, when Mr. Parnell betrayed the cause of the Irish Land League, in the treaty of Kilmainham, by suppressing the “No Rent” manifesto, Mr. George coincided with his action, and is supposed to have influenced Mr. Davitt, who was at first opposed to it. Mr. George could hardly have failed to see that, if the doctrine of “no rent” prevailed, there would be no lanu values to be taxed away.
Another Critical Note.
In the last number of Liberty Tak Kak says that he has “nothing but contempt for the man who needs to perceive the ‘self-wisdom’ of generosity in order to be generous.” While holding this opinion, of course he cannot feel any need of perceiving the self-wisdom of expressing contempt before airing that passionate thought.
If self-wisdom and intelligent egoism are synonymous terms, which I take them to be, what then does Tak Kak consider is the use of intelligent egoism? If he admits that all genuine acts of charity are manifestations of generosity, and that there are some such acts performed by others which touch his sentiments of sympathy and generosity, and yet do not meet with his approval because of his intelligence, then is he contemptible in his own eyes. If he does not admit this, it is evident that his generosity must be divorced from his intelligence.
Geo. B. Prescott, Jr.
Newark, November 20, 1887.
[I fully expected that some such criticism as the above would follow Tak Kak’s last contribution. The passage commented upon by Mr. Prescott was expressed with less than Tak Kak’s usual clearness, and I read it more than twice before I perceived its meaning (supposing that I now understand it correctly). Then I saw that Tak Kak referred only to being generous, not to acting generously. He did not mean that he admires the man who always does the deed to which a generous impulse prompts him regardless of the verdict of his intelligence upon the wisdom of such deed; he only meant that he despises the man who does not first feel the generous impulse and find his highest pleasure in it before he considers whether in the given instance it is wise or foolish to do the generous deed. So understood, his remark was entirely in harmony with the intelligent egoism which he has advocated so ably in these columns. I do not offer this explanation, however, in order to forestall Tak Kak; he certainly can defend himself much better than I can defend him. — Editor Liberty.]
The Robbers’ Shameless Boast.
The banker no longer defends himself from the charges which labor makes against him, but resorts to Boss Tweed’s rejoinder: “What are you going to do about it?” All defence of money monopoly and the existing social order becomes ridiculous and futile, all assault upon them becomes needless, after the following audacious confession, which appeared editorially a few months ago in the organ of the national banks, the “Bankers’ Monthly”:
It is no libel on the characteristics and tendencies of the present or any other age to say that the rich are growing richer and the poor poorer, for such is the inevitable result of the natural law of financial gravitation. Just as easy and naturally as a moist snow-ball gathers size by rolling down hill, does money gather accretions of interest by steadily descending the gentle declivity of time. The farmer who mortgaged his place complained that, while lh worked hard every day in the week, the mortgage worked nights, Sundays, week-days, and all, and so in the end beat him. It always has been thus, and always will be thus.
Money makes money with but little or no effort on the part of its owner, and the larger the sum of money, the larger, of course, are its aggregate gains,— the huge pile mounting higher and higher by a never-ceasing arithmetical progression. In getting rich the chiefest obstacles are encountered in securing the first five thousand dollars or ten thousand dollars,— the first snow-ball to start down the hill.
Various moral, economic, and social questions arise in view of these facts; but there is no good in discussing them. The facts are before us, and they cannot be annihilated or ignored. It would be better for all parties to accept them, and govern their action accordingly, than to spells time, breath, and energy fruitlessly in trying to fight against fate.
The work of organizing and establishing new banks in all parts of the country goes forward with unabated zeal. Since the publication of the January issue of our “Banker’s Directory,” there have been no less than three hundred and fifty new banks formed in the United States. The amount of capital in each of these has varied from ten thousand dollars to three million dollars. It would seem that the profitable limit in this business must be surely reached before a great while, but at present it is not in sight, nor is there any great probability that it will be, as long as money finds borrowers at six, eight, ten, and twelve per cent, interest on call or time loans. It is, indeed, an extraordinary harvest time with banks, and it is no wonder that unemployed capital should desire to “get into the swim” while it lasts, and receive a share of the gains. For all except clerks and the manager, a banking business is an easy and rapid way of making money, with no more than the average amount of risk attending it. Moreover, it is eminently a genteel and dignified occupation. There is something very respectful and potential in the title of banker. It sounds good, and it is good, to those who can legitimately bear it.
We hear no more now of national banks giving up their charters and reorganizing under State laws, or of reducing the amount of their note circulation to a minimum on account of the withdrawal of the three per cent, bonds. On the contrary, the national banks are now buying four and four and a half per cent. bonds.
Of course, we greatly rejoice in the present prosperity of all our friends and patrons, and only hope that in the excess of zeal the banking interests of the country will not he pushed to a degree of tension which will cause the cords of safety to snap asunder suddenly in the near future.
What is Needed.
[E. C. Walker in Lucifer.]
Not patch-work “methods” of reform, not patent legislative nostrums, but the education of the people in the primary lessons of self-rule and self-help. Not reforms in law-making, but a vast increase in the work of law-repealing and nullification through the absorbent substitution of private, associative initiative. Not the referendum, for, if the units of the majority are not capable of determining questions of finance, industry, morals, etc., etc., for themselves, they certainly are not capable of determining them for others, nor is the collective majority capable of determining them for the minority.
One thing that is needed is that men of brains shall have more faith in the whole truth that they see. One of the chief reasons why the people grow so slowly is the strange delusion of so many desire-to-be reformers who act just as though they thought that the way to reform human conditions was for them to follow instead of leading the masses.
Speak your deepest, truest convictions, or keep silent. Better not teach at all than to consciously misteach. It is easier to write on the blank page than on the blotched one; so, if you cannot write on the human brain what is your highest conception of truth, write nothing; leave a clean sheet for others. Don’t follow the example of the Protestants, and render those who listen to you incapable of logical thinking, by trying to teach them to attempt the impossible task of reconciling the irreconcilable,— Liberty and Despotism, Individuality and Authority.
Give All To Love.
Give all to love;
Obey thy heart;
Friends, kindred, days,
Plans, credit, and the Muse,—
’Tis a brave master;
Let it have scope;
Follow it utterly.
Hope beyond hope:
High and more high
It dives into noon.
With wing unspent,
But it is a god,
Knows its own path,
And the outlets of the sky.
It was not for the mean;
It requireth courage stout,
Souls above doubt,
Such ’twill reward,—
They shall return
More than they were,
And ever ascending.
Leave all for love;
Yet, hear me, yet,
One word more thy heart behoved.
One pulse more of firm endeavor,—
Keep thee today,
Free as an Arab
Of thy beloved.
Cling with life to the maid;
But when the surprise.
First vague shadow of surmise
Flits across her bosom young
Of a joy apart from thee,
Free be she, fancy-free;
Nor thou detain her vesture’s hem,
Nor the palest rose she flung
From her summer diadem.
Though thou loved her as thyself,
As a self of purer clay,
Though her parting dims the day,
Stealing grace from all alive;
When half-gods go,
The gods arrive.
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Anarchism: Its Aims and Methods.
Those of you, Ladies and Gentlemen, who have famillarized yourselves with the constitution of the Boston Anarchists’ Club — and we most earnestly request, all of you to bestow upon that document a candid and thoughtful consideration — have not failed to notice the contents of Article II, which reads as follows:
The purpose of the Club is the abolition of all government imposed upon man by man by holding public meetings, lectures, and debates, distributing Anarchistic literature, and all other agencies, methods, and measures not themselves partaking of the nature of such government.
The “abolition of government imposed upon man by man” is the definition of the term An-archy, which, in the form of a negation, is made to express the basic and central affirmation underlying our philosophy and system of thought, its equivalent, stated in positive form, being Individual Sovereignty, or Egoism.
This Club, then, is organized by individuals who refuse to sanction the existence of the State, and who are determined to labor for its overthrow and for the realization of individual liberty. It is essential that there should be no uncertainty in regard to our position. We reject all forms of governent,— that is, external regulation,— and demand to be allowed full freedom in the exercise of all our faculties and powers without any interference or control whatever. And we hold that we are justified in employing any and all means not themselves partaking of the nature of government for the purpose of securing the desired ends,— that is to say, in trying to achieve freedom for ourselves, we are entitled to the use of all Anarchistic means and to none that, are in any sense Archistic. We do not presume to speak for others; consequently, when we declare war upon government, we do so only so far as it relates to our own interests and crosses our own paths. We do not propose to dictate to others and force them to accept our ideas of reform, for that would be equivalent to an attempt to impose our government upon them. We fully assume the cost and the responsibility of the exercise of our freedom, which ends immediately where the equal freedom of our fellow-man begins. Those who have no fault to find with the existing State may continue to support it; those who flatter themselves that they have discovered a more perfect State should be free to establish it for themselves and enjoy its blessings or suffer from its inherent evils; and all the various classes and sets of dreamers who have peculiar notions regarding things ought to be allowed to realize their dreams, provided that none of them infringe upon the liberties of outsiders. In the end only the fittest would survive, and intelligence and knowledge gained through observing and comparing the results of all the systems in operation would be the chief factors in determining that survival.
Vaguely conveyed in the language of the constitutional provision, the implication, once understood, cannot fail to impress the intelligent investigator with a profound sense of respect for this new depabture in the world of reform. The unimpeachable record of history fatally establishes the presence, in almost all reform movements to which a greater or smaller influence on man and society may be justly ascribed, of the common incriminating feature of unjustifiable coercion and extreme carelessness in the choice of methods. The ideal, the theory, the utopia, monopolized the attention; the mode of application had to be determined by other factors. The end justified the means: consequently, all that pertained to the practical sides of the divine and glorious ideas upon which alone the salvation of mankind rested was dismissed as too “material” and unworthy of consideration. To establish an undefinable “Right,” nothing was wrong; to “fight” for “peace” was not thought paradoxical. Like orthodox Christianity, which is incapable of perceiving any inharmony between its avowed general mission of saving fallen humanity and bringing it heavenly bliss, and its cool and deliberate consignment of millions of beings to eternal tortures and anguish, nearly all reform movements, inspired by lofty aims and brilliant utopias, sought to materialize by and through means which could have no effect other than reactionary and evil-aggravating. For the first time in the history of great movements, “principle” and “policy” are made to conform to one and the same standard, and subject to the domination of one and the same guiding power, in the theory and practice of Anarchy. Whether looked upon as expounders of certain truths and apostles of a certain system of philosophy, or whether studied as practical rebels and conspirators against existing iniquitous institutions, the same consistency, plumb-line adherence to well-defined limits, and scrupulous regard for the rights of the non-Anarchists distinguish the Anarchist reformers. Theoretically defending individual liberty, and appealing to the intelligence of the people for endorsement of their scientific conclusions, the Anarchists are prepared to set the example of practical non-interference. They aspire to be teachers, but they have no intention of becoming dictators; they are ready to lead the people out of the wilderness to the promised land, but they do not mean to drive them by force.
Having explained the meaning of the article quoted above, we are confronted with the necessity of stating our reasons for (1) our opposition and enmity toward the State and (2) for our confident belief that Anarchy would improve and elevate the world’s condition.
This, as we all know, is a practical age. We have no patience with people who waste time and thought on the consideration of any but the most burning, vital, practical, and urgent questions of the hour; and we have nothing but contempt and ridicule for the reformers and social philosophers who invent impracticable schemes, offer puzzling solutions, and flood the world with utopias, sentimental effusions, and fanciful ideals. We seek immediate and tangible benefits from everything that makes claim to our attention, and our first question regarding anything we may be asked to look into is whether the matter is closely allied to material prosperity.
Before we proceed with the main argument, we must, in view of this circumstance, comment upon one current notion concerning the Anarchistic doctrine,— a notion which, because very plausible on the surface, is misleading and dangerous. Some kindly-disposed people, intending it as a compliment, frequently refer to Anarchy as that ideal and millennial state of society of which prophets spoke and philosophers wrote and poets sang and dreamers of all ages drew fantastic pictures. We are comforted by the admission that humanity is sure to attain that high perfection which will obliterate all distinctions and make laws unnecessary. Every man will be a law unto himself, and government a thing unknown.
While duly appreciating the generosity and benevolence of this view of Anarchy, we must make the disappointing declaration nevertheless that there is no more truth and intelligent comprehension of Anarchistic philosophy in it than there is in its antipode, which is entertained by a far greater number of people not distinguished for excessive liberality and toleration,— namely, the view which can discover nothing in Anarchy except chaos and universal war. Anarchy brings peace, and brings it in the here and the now. Sickly sentimentalism and ferocious savagery are alike foreign to Anarchism, which is simply and objectively the Science of Society and the text-book of Justice, and which concerns itself very little about the remote future, but deals with the present and the very next step of progress.
What is it that absorbs and preoccupies the thinking mind of the world today? A multitude and variety of pressing problems. There are infinite abuses to be removed, evils to be abolished, maladies to be cured, grievances to be settled, wrongs to be righted. There are all sorts of movements on foot aiming at reform. Starting from the same point in earnest search for truth, reformers travel in all directions, and explore all roads and by-ways, in the end finding themselves in a circle, in the midst of a raging battle and hopeless confusion. Unguided by intelligence, the abundant crop of good intentions and noble impulses paves the road to the hell of modern universal uncertainty and insecurity. Anarchism throws a flood of light upon this wild scene, and clearly outlines the issue as well as the methods of settling it. It sums up the whole complicated situation in the following trenchant declaration:
Government Is the Father of All Social Evil;
while it reveals the true and perfect solution of the problem in the formula of Proudhon:
Liberty the Mother, Not the Daughter, of Order.
The Anarchists’ motto is: “No more government of man by man,” and their chief battle with the State,— “the State, that debases man; the State, that prostitutes woman; the State, that corrupts children; the State, that trammels love; the State, that stifles thought; the State, that monopolizes land; the State, that limits credit; the State, that restricts exchange; the State, that gives idle capital the power of increase and allows it, through interest, rent, and profits, to rob industrious labor of its products.”
They do not claim that the mere abolition of the State would instantly result in the world’s regeneration; but they assert that nothing short of such abolition will be sufficient to enable those factors and forces upon which the world’s regeneration does depend to fully and freely enter into play. Not all the crimes with which the State is charged in the above indictment, which is copied verbatim from the first number of the Anarchists’ organ, Liberty, have been directly and deliberately committed by it; but indirectly it is the cause of their continued existence, if not of their origin.
We need not attempt here to trace the growth of the social disease back to its prime source. It is inessential to the purport of our argument to undertake a search for the “cause of causes.” When placing the responsibility for most of the modern social evils at the door of the State, we do not for a moment lose sight of the indisputable fact that the firm hold which the State has on the minds of the people is due to some general cause for which the State, being a result, cannot be held accountable. Later we shall have occasion to touch upon the fact of the people’s fond nursing of the viper; at present we are concerned with the nature of the State, its past, and its effect on human relations.
The State, as Herbert Spencer says, is begotten of aggression and by aggression. It is essentially a war-institution. Both primitive and modern history abound with convincing evidence that coercive government owes its origin, as well as its preservation and opportunities for extension, to special climatic, geographical, and other physical conditions. War was the agent of evolution and the means whereby tribes unfavorably situated secured their survival. The political State, in whatever form, represents, in its main and unvarying features, that type of social organization which is best adapted to the necessities and emergencies of warlike people. On the other hand we read [See Spencer’s “Political Institutions” and Tyler’s “Anthropology”] and hear very frequently of tribes and small communities living in peace and contentment in the utter absence of a coercive power, or of what we call government. They have their methods and agencies for restraining trespassers, and they find them entirely adequate. Recognizing thus that the State is not. an accident in history, and conceding even that it was both necessary and serviceable to the progressive development of society, the Anarchists, however, maintain that its legitimate occupation is entirely gone, and that it is at present playing a very abnormal part in the social life of civilized and industrial nations, interfering with things which brook no interference, undertaking the management of affairs it knows nothing about, and assuming tasks for which it has not the least fitness. Disaster and failure follow its footsteps. It is an engine of destruction, constitutionally incapable of constructive functions. The smooth, regular, and unobstructed running of the social machine requires the annihilation and removal of the State, this immense wreck, which so many are seeking to remodel and reconstruct for the purpose of adapting it to new uses. The State must die, if society is to live. To attempt to cure society by State medicine is to intensify its suffering and make its recovery more and more doubtful.
No one will pretend at this late day that statute regulations and restrictions hold society together, either exclusively or largely. The growth of social ties necessitates the diminution of warlike propensities. The same causes that brought social life into existence, gaining strength and; weight by constant activity, are operating to perfect both persons and environment and make the adaptation between them complete. This adaptation, the Anarchists assert, is hindered by the State. For what does the State do? Does it confine itself to the narrow function of restraining and punishing criminals? It does not. (And, besides, that could be done without its expensive and cumbersome machinery.) Is the State a handmaid to society, ministering to its wants and attending to its needs and conveniences? It is not. The State is industriously engaged in granting privileges, creating distinctions, and producing inequalities. These tend to disrupt society, and therefore the people, having no respect for them, violate them at every turn. To protect these monopolies and to enforce the laws an army of public officials and police becomes necessary. Should the State be wiped out, with all its inequalities and inequities, very little motive for crime would be left. Our industrial civilization, with its two concomitants,— unconscious, automatic cooperation and conscious, voluntary association for various purposes, is powerfully conducive to mutual respect and defence. And no penalty for wrong-doing would be more dreaded or more effective than a temporary or permanent exclusion of the offender from the social benefits. The principles of the state are the principles, and its methods and tactics are the methods and tactics, of war. Just as peaceful industrial pursuits and the application of autonomous principles are incompatible with continuous warfare, or rigorous vigilance and preparation for war, so the existence of the State and its pernicious activities cripple the body social and extinguish the spontaneous spirit animating it.
Perhaps the distinction between the indirect influence of the principles of Society and the direct compulsion of the brutal State will be more firmly grasped when the effects of the application of both methods of regulation on a particular instance are studied and contrasted. Stephen Pearl Andrews uses this luminous illustration:
The highest type of human society in the existing social order is found in the parlor. In the elegant and refined reunions of the cultured classes there is none of the impertinent interference of legislation. The Individuality of each is fully admitted. Intercourse, therefore, is perfectly free. Conversation is continuous, brilliant, and varied. Groups are formed according to attraction. They are continually broken up, and re-formed, through the operation of the same subtle and all-pervading influence. Mutual deference pervades all classes, and the most perfect harmony ever yet attained in complex human relations prevails... If there are laws of etiquette at all, they are mere suggestions of principles admitted into and judged of for himself by each individual mind.
Here, pertinently observes Mr. Andrews, we find circumstances which most men, including legislators and statesmen, would have us dread and avoid as invariably and inevitably productive of chaos, confusion, social war, and general demoralization, working but exactly opposite results, presenting a spectacle of ideal order. And he asks:
Suppose the intercourse of the parlor to be regulated by special legislation. Let the time which each gentleman shall be allowed to speak to each lady be fixed by law; the position in which they should sit or stand be precisely regulated; the subjects which they shall be allowed to speak of, and the tone of voice and accompanying gestures carefully defined,— all under pretext of preventing disorder and encroachment upon each other’s privileges and rights, and can anything be conceived better calculated or more certain to convert social intercourse into intolerable slavery and hopeless confusion?
All will unhesitatingly admit the beauty of laissez faire principles in the parlor; yet few will listen to the proposal to carry them into other branches of social existence, which fact convicts them of pitiful lack of appreciation of the real nature of the phenomena. Legislation in the parlor is not intolerable because the parlor requires no regulation, but because it requires another kind of regulation. And that kind of regulation is far more stringent and rigid than any Draconian code, which, however, does not prevent it from being cheerfully and gracefully complied with. Liberty is the mother of the order reigning in the parlor. When persons voluntarily unite for the purpose of carrying out a common design, or supplying a want equally felt by all, little difficulty is experienced in maintaining harmony among the sovereign members of the association. As long as one finds it to his interest or pleasure to be a unit of a particular body, he is certain to zealously guard it against dissolution or partial derangement.
Mr. Andrews’s illustration disposes with thoroughness of the quasi-philosophic argument often made against the central doctrine of Anarchy; to the effect that freedom is antisocial, and that Individual Sovereignty implies a return to barbarism. For the command of a man to himself is essentially different from the command of governor to governed. The freedom here contended for is freedom from arbitrary authority and compulsory regulation assumed by men against the will and interest of other men fully equal, if not superior, to them, and not freedom from natural limitations or restrictions imposed by conditions outside of the control of man. The cultured and refined member of society who, in order to command the respect of his peers, to win the confidence and love of its inferiors, and to gain self-approval, minutely analyzes his conduct and thoroughly disciplines himself, is in no sense less free than the isolated savage with his strong, uncontrollable passions and fierce instincts. The savage having become civilized, savage freedom no longer attracts him. But no change affects his aversion tor dictatorial government; on the contrary, the deeper his social attachments, the more intense his hatred of direct coercion.
To abolish government and extend personal freedom, then, is not to endanger social stability, but to surround it with additional guarantees.
Next to the principle of voluntaryism, as a basis and condition of social existence, stands the principle of equality, Not the authoritarian equality of the paternal reformers, but natural equality. No society can maintain itself if it is divided into classes having distinct or antagonistic interests. Equality of opportunities and freedom of development of the faculties tend to produce an equality which is wholly consistent with variety. But governments set men against men and classes against classes by their favoritism, system of privileges, and special opportunities. This artificial inequality gives rise to class prejudices, jealausy, hatred, and discord. It tempts and forces some to commit crimes, while it reduces others to abject slavery. Thus it gradually undermines society. Soon comes revolution, and a civilization is in ruins. The modern conflict between the rich and the poor could not exist but for the State, which feeds on strife and strengthened in war. A solution of the labor problem would involve a dissolution of the State. For all that is required to such solution is State non-interference. Labor would reap its full reward, if the Stats did not furnish a special class of people with weapons and means whereby the latter is enabled to enslave and plunder the former. The State produces nothing and possesses nothing. If it is seen give something to anybody, that must have been taken forcibly or fraudulently from somebody else. In a state of freedom, nothing would command a price except labor, and the fact that idlers and non-producers find it possible to deprive labor of its due through rent, interest, and profits, which, being a reward of capital, could not exist under freedom, is sufficient to indicate to logical minds the real source of the labor troubles as well as their efficient cause.
Most of our eminent political and sociological writers, alive to the organic evils of government, concur in the opinion that the State ought to be deprived of all power to regulate industry, commerce, and morals, and restricted solely to the function of protecting persons and property against invasion and criminal aggression. Even if governments ever could be reduced to this modest occupation, the Anarchist would still decline to surrender into their keeping his person and property, because he knows that no monopoly ever remained faithful to its patrons. If protection is desirable, it can only be secured through the competition of various associations organized for that purpose and appearing in a free market to solicit the custom of the sovereign individuals. And there would be no more ground for compelling a man to support a protective force which he has no use for or no confidence in than there is for forcing him to join a religious institution in the interest of his spiritual salvation. But government exhibits no willingness to narrow its circle; realizing that, after being reduced to a police-force, the tendency to reduce it further and further will continue (especially since it will inevitably fail to satisfactorily perform its office) till it teaches zero, government is bound to meddle with every detail of the citizen’s life, slowly developing into an absolute despotism.
Be that as it may, the question of the scope and proportions of governmental power is a subordinate and purely practical question, which cannot be intelligently discussed in the absence of a definite understanding of first principles. When an association is organized on a voluntary basis, and members have the right to withdraw at any time, no limit need be put beforehand to the field of its operations. The members can increase and diminish its functions at will, and experience may safely be relied upon for demonstrating just what the amount of benefit there is to be derived from associative effort. The question is as to the recognition of government in principle. If it is fundamentally indefensible, then, no matter what good it may effect incidentally or accidentally, it can never compensate the individual for the outrage and injury inflicted upon him in stealing his freedom and personal rights in the first place. The principle of government once recognized, however partial and qualified the recognition, the practical irresistible tendency is toward absorption by the government of all functions that are not physically the exclusive property of the individual. For, this question of limits being a matter upon which opinions may differ, who but the government can finally decide? And is it likely to decide against itself and openly confess incapacity? It may be well for those who are favoring compromises and half-measures to carefully consider this point.
“There is a strange heterogeneity in our political faiths,” says Herbert Spencer. “Systems that have had their day... are patched with modern notions utterly unlike in quality and color; and men gravely display these systems, wear them and walk about in them, quite unconscious of their grotesqueness. This transition state of ours, partaking as it does equally of the past and the future, breeds hybrid theories exhibiting the oddest union of bygone despotism and coming freedom.” Anarchists lay particular stress upon the vital truth that all reform, to be reform, must be in the line of the “coming freedom,” or, rather, must be the freedom. Anything that conflicts with the tendency toward freedom, and contains the elements of the past,— of compulsion and governmental regulation, though it may seem to confer an advantage, and though it may in fact bring relief in a special instance, must inevitably produce a corresponding, if not a greater, amount of mischief in an unexpected quarter. The State may seem to prove a benefactor on some occasions; but its benefits, even if real, are purchased at too great an expense: for it is these trifling benefits that secure it perpetual reprieves and give it new leases of life. When not very narrowly viewed, these small benefits are seen to be fertile sources of misery. Buckle said that the only good legislation is that repealing other legislation. But the State has no intention of committing suicide; as fast as old laws are repealed new ones are manufactured, and each of these laws creates a market for a number of others. Being driven by artificially established barriers and iniquitous laws to the commission of crimes, more law, a “stronger government,” are required to repress and punish the offenders so driven. Reformers who really strive for a freer and better future should beware of “looking back” to the infernal dominion of authority. One glance, a slight turn,— and all is lost. The straight path of liberty must be followed without hesitation, without reservation, without regret.
The question logically arising at this juncture is whether, seeing the State to be a solid fact, we are justified in immediately proceeding to attack it without waiting for the whole mass of citizens to join us in the engagement. Now, we have already warned you against the assumption that Anarchists seek to abolish the State for all, without consulting the preferences of all. Anarchists have neither the desire, nor the idea of its being necessary or favorable to them, to suppress other forms of social organization. In fact, they could not pretend to be Anarchists, if they contemplated any forcible conversion of people to their beliefs; and they would show little confidence in the intrinsic strength of their practical system, if they feared the competition of other systems. No; the Anarchists do not propose to save people from folly and injury against their will. All they ask is to be let alone,— to be allowed to ignore or practically to abolish the State for themselves. If there are victims of the divinity spook among you, who still would preach the rendering unto Caesar what is alleged to be his by divine right, they will be “commended to cold oblivion.” We address ourselves exclusively to upholders of government by consent. How, we ask, can a government said to be founded on the consent of the governed consistently continue to govern people after they unequivocally declare their hostility to it and demand to be released from its chains? Surely no government can be based on consent which does not take the trouble to learn the people’s wishes; and surely no government can be more despicable, unprincipled, and cowardly than that which drowns the cries of anguish and of suffering of the slaves whom it crushes beneath its iron heel in loud boasts of popular choice and noisy celebrations of independence. Can there be any stronger evidence of the criminal and treasonable character of the State than the fact of its compelling people to support and obey it in spite of their protests? If this government is based on consent, then the Anarchists, who very emphatically do not consent to tolerate the abuses, knavery, incompetency, and ignorant folly of our law-makers, should be allowed to enjoy perfect peace, so far as the State is concerned, as long as they do not invade the liberties of such people as do consent to have the government act for them and over them. Consent, to mean anything, must be of course individual consent. Now, if an individual chooses to forego the “protection” which the government offers to his person and property, it is manifestly absurd for the government to insist upon taking care of him and taxing him for it. Yet we all know that this “government by consent” will no more allow Anarchists to live in their own way than the Czar of all the Russian would. What possible excuse is there for regulating the private life, habits, business affairs, etc., of persons who do not infringe upon anybody’s rights? None whatever, and all the hypocritical twaddle about the dignity of the law, the interests of morality, and the rights of the collectivity, is nothing but a mask for irresponsible usurpation. This alternative no one can escape; either the individual is above all human institutions, and then no institution can forcibly exact his aid and allegiance, or man is subordinate to laws and institutions, and then popular government is a crime against divine law.
Doubtless there are many who, reconciled to majority rule as the least objectionable form of rule, interpret “government by consent” to mean the consent of a majority of the governed. But, in the first place, majorities never rule. It is a political maxim that power ever tends to concentrate in few hands, and the blind submission of unreasoning minds is mistaken for intelligent ratification. And assuming that the majority do have the proper qualifications to pronounce judgment upon legislative work, and actually do express their will, by what process of reasoning is the conclusion reached that minorities are bound to abide by the decision of majorities? Either majorities can govern minorities in all things or in absolutely none. That we do not meet any champions of the omnipotence of majorities shows that there is no principle behind majoritism. Those who believe in natural rights and natural justice can make no exception in favor of majority government. If we all have equal natural rights to life and liberty, and if no one can rightfully, under any pretext whatever, violate these individual rights, then it is impossible to understand how A and B, who could exercise no authority over C when acting independently and separately, find themselves possessed of rightful authority over him the moment they agree to act conjointly. Whatever their ideas of expediency, when pressed for a just solution, all believers in natural rights must concede that individuals have a perfect right to abolish the State for themselves, and must condemn all interference of the majority with them as contrary to the law of natural justice. As to those who hold might to be the only “right” in nature, and who know of no law of justice except such as enlightened self-interest seekers determine upon as most conducive to the happiness of all and each, certainly they cannot approve majority rule. Their desideratum being perfect peace, security, and social harmony, they cannot consciously admit any discord-breeding element. Minorities are not easily crushed, out in this enlightened age. Buckle said that natural science is democratic; it would be more correct to say that natural science is Anarchic. In proportion as men become liberated mentally from superstitious reverence for phantoms, spooks, and “clothes” — in the broad sense of Herr Teufelsdröckh — and learn to look upon might as the only guarantee of equal freedom and security do Anarchic principles begin to prevail and authority begin to decay. Dynamite has no respect for numbers. Majorities are taught to have some consideration for individual liberties when they are shown the practical uses of the “resources of civilization.” Gunpowder shook the thrones; dynamite paralyzes majorities. Growing intelligence, coupled with the increasing opportunities for successful resistance, is daily sweeping away the remnants of the despotism of the human world’s childhood. The sovereignty of the individual is becoming a reality. Majoritism, never sustained by principle, can no longer be defended on grounds of expediency.
Clearly, therefore, consent must mean individual consent, and a government claiming to be founded on consent which, by force of majoritism, denies the individual right of secession is violating its own constitutional safeguards and breaking faith with the citizens whom it induced to accept its services and protection.
But Anarchists have even greater cause to complain. They never delegated any offices to the government and never made any promises to support it. Consequently it is barefaced tyranny and transparent sophistry to deny them the original right to govern themselves, or not govern themselves, as they please. Unavoidably the conclusion is forced on all thinking minds that the Anarchists are well supplied with arguments justifying their demand to be excused from further connection with the government. We stand here today to proclaim our determination to fight for the freedom which should be ours. We challenge the governmentalists to show cause why we should not be released. And we warn the State that we will not consult its wishes as to the weapons to he used against it.
* * *
And here we have come to the point where a statement in regard to the highly important question of methods is in order. After having presented our conviction that the abolition of the State is absolutely indispensable to social evolution and the true solution of all tho burning issues of the day, and after having cautioned you against identifying us with the world’s worst enemies, the missionaries, whether social, political, or religious, who, devoted to the divine truth which they feel themselves to be possessed of and considering it a sacred obligation to reform society according to their infallible principles, become crusaders and convert the people by bullets or ballots, an answer may appropriately be made to the question what the Anarchists, for themselves, propose to do and how they mean to obtain their divorce from the faithless State.
Let no one be misled by the Anarchists’ emphatic opposition to coercion into attributing to them the championship of the Christian non-resistance policy. All Anarchists believe, in accordance with the right of self-defence, that “against tyrants all means are justifiable,” and that “all is fair in war.” The Anarchists are at war with the State, and must regard as foes (though aiming to make them friends) all those who in any way uphold and strengthen its hands in its criminal career. The school believing in inalienable natural rights regard the State as an invader, who, having wantonly trampled under foot individual rights, thereby forfeits all claim to consideration and no longer retains any rights which the aggrieved individuals are bound to respect. Being immoral itself, it cannot ask its victims to govern themselves by moral codes. In restraining and punishing the aggressor, therefore, the school referred to deems itself fairly entitled to the use of any and all means, guiding itself in the matter of practical choice of methods by considerations of expediency and wise strategy purely and solely. As to those Anarchists who are conscious only of the sovereignty of might, and can discover no rights in nature, of course nothing but wisdom and prudence can have any weight with them in deciding upon methods with which to assail the State. Thus the Anarchists claim that they would be entirely beyond reproach, so far as the principle of equal rights is concerned, were they to practise the latest discoveries in the science of revolutionary warfare on the direct agents of the State or even on the indirect defenders of it whom the plea of ignorance or honest motive do not save from being regarded as particeps criminis. But they realize that it would be suicidal for them to assume the offensive and make direct attack upon the State; for, being few in number, they would speedily be conquered and annihilated. While those blind slaves, the masses of the people, in their ignorance of true social principles, are worshipping the power which grinds them to powder, and stand ready to defend it with their last drop of blood, crucifying its antagonists and their own best well-wishers as fiends and enemies of society, to fight the State amounts to rendering it a great service and strengthening its evil power. Wisdom teaches that it is in the interest of the Anarchistic cause to accept methods which, though doing their work slowly and even imperceptibly, compensate for this drawback, if such it be, by the virtue of leading surely and safely to the final triumph. Premature change, or desperate attempts to make the world move onward in disregard of the laws of social growth, result in violent reaction. The practical abolition of the State would be a very easy matter, if the State idea were once abolished in the minds of a considerable number of people. But despotism may rest in peaceful slumber so long as dense ignorance keeps watch over it and guards it against assault. It is the policy of the Anarchists to win the confidence and respect of the people and array them against the State, if not to the extent of fraternizing with the former in their battle against the latter, then, at least, to the extent of maintaining a neutral and indifferent position. This policy precludes the use of all but constructive and educational methods. To smash the idol is to excite the rage and hatred of the worshipper; to gently and gradually dissipate the fog of superstition and expose the worthlessness and impotency of the idol may require patience, time, and endurance, but the issue is certain and satisfactory. All Anarchist workers devote their energies in the direction of spreading the light of true social principles, popularizing political and economic science, and illustrating the beauty and excellence of voluntaryism and general recognition of the right of individual self-government. All forces are concentrated on the work of creating a strong anti-State tendency,— a tendency that shall prepare the conditions and pave the way for the carrying out, on an extensive scale, of the Anarchists’ plan of passive resistance to the State, through which the emancipation is to be principally realized and the great change introduced.
Light and rational ideas can reach the masses but to a slight degree The Anarchists do not delude themselves with the false expectation of converting the world and reorganizing society by mere theoretical propaganda. Intellectual development and sober thinking are luxuries which the poor, degraded, half-starved victims of ages of injustice can neither enjoy nor appreciate; consequently the social transformation, which can only be hastened by being thoroughly understood, can look for little encouragement and positive help from the masses. The intelligent and influential few are the sole active factors in reform, and they are formidable, unconquerable, when, by skilful diplomacy, they succeed in eliminating the sympathies of the masses from the State and subjecting the latter to the necessity of struggling for its existence unaided by its usual numerous allies. Such a state of things the Anarchists have in their power to bring about. The masses will not be practically enlisted in the reform movement, but they will be disinclined to exterminate those who shall be in the front line on the day of the opening of the campaign against the State.
As soon as numerical strength and other important considerations warrant is, the rebellious minority quietly establishes the new system and inaugurates an order based on Anarchy and equity. Practical teaching and application of new ideas to the various branches of activity and relations of life become the order of the day. The State, by its very efforts to suppress this movement, will insure its own speedy downfall. In its enfeebled state, any extravagant expenditure of energy and vitality will bring it nearer to the grave.
Thus, whatever their rights in this matter, the judgment, the natural sentiments, the necessities of the environment, all point to peaceable and constructive methods as the methods by which the great industrial problem is to be permanently solved. Such methods, fortunately, can be employed freely and openly. Were it otherwise, all revolutionary forces would unite in the defence of the elementary right of free discussion, and force would take the place of reason. That right recovered, force should be left a monopoly in the hands of the State, and reason be made the sole weapon of attack by the army of progress, except, perhaps, in some rare instances, when it may be found advisable and serviceable for purposes of propaganda to provoke the State, by some hostile demonstration, to ill-considered acts of repression, especially if the inherent injustice of the State should be strikingly exemplified by its conduct.
Authoritarians, basing their philosophy on force and artifice, have no need to investigate the question of methods, but can use all at once; Anarchists, proposing no compulsory reforms, but simply aiming to demonstrate the superiority of free association by object lessons, must be on their guard against any methods that tend to deprive them of the opportunity to follow out their programme.
That the State may not be blessed by its enemies, and that society may not perish at the hands of its impetuous and undiscriminating friends, Anarchism raises the torch of Liberty, which illuminates the past, giving all social students a clear insight into the meaning of history and the laws of societary development, and which is destined to guide the human world through the chaotic present into the bright future.
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.