“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
The Anarchistic movement inaugurated in this country by Liberty is described in considerable detail by H. L. Osgood in a long article on “Scientific Anarchism,” which takes the leading position in the March number of the “Political Science Quarterly,” published for Columbia College. Coming from an opponent, it is a remarkably fair statement, and I hope to take some further notice of it.
I am not surprised to find the Socialistic minister Bellamy favoring the movement for making Massachusetts a prohibition State; but how those two strong followers of George, Dr. Gifford and William Lloyd Garrison, can reconcile prohibition with the confidence in freedom urged so pathetically by their leader is not easy to see. Does not the fact show that George’s influence for good is insignificant, and that his disciples understand, as unfortunately many half-Anarchists do not, that his plea for individual liberty is nothing but “words, words, words”?
Carlyle writes: “Is not every able editor a ruler of the world, being a persuader of it; though self-elected, yet sanctioned by the sale of his numbers? Whom indeed the world has the readiest method of deposing, should need be: that of merely doing nothing to him; which ends in starvation.” It did not occur to Carlyle that every ruler and despot might be conveniently deposed by the very same passive method of refraining from paying them any attention. Only this method is essentially the method of enlightened beings; and as long as the people remain “mostly fools” neither the editorial nor the political rulers feel any uneasiness about the permanency of their occupations. Force and fraud find it no difficult task to rule ignorance.
Gronlund (of whose intellectual powers I never entertained a high opinion) doesn’t improve with age. In a speech before the Boston Nationalists’ Club he declared that the greatest mistake of the Socialists in the past has been their neglect of the nationalistic idea. The war-cry henceforth must evidently be: “Workingmen of all countries, do not unite!” Were I inclined to suspicion, I should charge Gronlund and the Nationalists with being in the hire of the enemy, and look upon their new departure as an attempt to “divide and conquer.” But, with George Eliot, I believe that knavery and hypocrisy are far less common than is generally supposed. The explanation is rather that “they know not what they are doing,” — stupidity.
An anonymous writer in the “Workmen’s Advocate” makes the statement that a few years ago all the Anarchists were members of State Socialistic societies. A reading of Liberty would show him that Anarchistic converts are recruited as largely from the ranks of religious and political liberals, semi-individualistic radicals, and Spencerian sociologists as from the ranks of orthodox Socialists. He further charges that our retention of the name Socialists suggests on our side a suspicion of our own weakness. A more careful reading of his own party organ would dissolve the ground of this contention. By its oft-quoted definitions we have a clear right to the name. The trouble is with a good many people that they think and read too little and write too much.
Mrs. Lucy E. Parsons sends me a copy of the “Life of Albert R. Parsons,” just published by her. It is a handsome and interesting volume of over two hundred and fifty pages, and sheds new light on the character of her heroic husband, who met a martyr’s death in the cause of suffering humanity. Workingmen will find inspiration in it, and will learn many needed lessons. George A. Schilling contributes a brief history of the labor movement in Chicago, in which the Anarchistic branch receives a fair share of attention. I am proud to know that Comrade Schilling “has always regarded” the appearance of Liberty “as an epoch in the intellectual progress of the movement,” and it is encouraging to learn that, in view of the “exceedingly authoritarian” character of John Most’s Communistic ideas, this pretended advocate of liberty has never been held by him “a consistent opponent of the State.”
To a discussion of Anarchism now in progress in the columns of the Pittsburgh “Truth” T. B. Wake-man, the Positivist philosopher, contributes a clipping from the San Francisco “Examiner” as a faithful reflection of his own sentiments. We learn that “Cooperation is Socialism; competition is Anarchism... Two voices singing a duet — that is cooperation and Socialism. Two voices singing each a different tune and trying to drown one another — that is competition and Anarchism... Anarchism is Socialistic in its means only: by cooperation it tries to render cooperation impossible — combines to kill combination.” I should now ask Mr. Wakeman to define “Anarchist Socialism” and explain how men not only perfectly sane and sober, but possessing as much scientific culture as his own highness, can be Anarchists because of their aspiration after social harmony, cooperation, and peace. When thinking people allow themselves at this late day to exhibit such ignorant prejudice, there is reason to begin to fear for man.
The “Workmen’s Advocate” prints, evidently without the least feeling of shame and remorse, the report of a resolution, passed by the Chicago State Socialists recently, “deprecating the constant attendance at the meetings of the Anarchistic element as calculated to needlessly retard the work of socialistic propaganda in our midst and prevent the cooperation with us of persons of intelligence and social standing, and intimating very decidedly that their room is much more agreeable than their company.” We know now what sort of treatment to expect from the “Cooperative Commonwealth.” When the ignorant and brutal fellows who babble about State control and sovereignty get the power to tyrannize over those whose superiority they fear no time is likely to be wasted on verbal resolutions of regret. But they never will get power or influence. The world does not want any more reigns of terror, and our would-be despots will before long be swept out of moral existence by a deluge of universal contempt, ridicule, and disdain.
The recent remark of Jay Gould that the weaker railroad companies “will eventually fall into the hands of the old and strong companies” in consequence of the Interstate Commerce law, or, to use his own words, “because they will not dare to violate the law, and on even terms with the stronger companies they will hardly be able to secure traffic enough to support them,” reveals a striking fitness to relations of vastly greater scope, and might serve as a text for an inquiry into the causes of the present state of labor, together with suggestions for its relief. The fate so confidently predicted for the weaker companies of eventually being eaten up by the larger ones has certainly long ago overtaken labor: it also is a prey to the strong and powerful. And the reasons are the same in the one case as in the other. The inability of labor to come to its own is directly traceable to the laws made by moneylords and landlords for its exploitation, by laws which it “will not dare to violate,” while on “even terms” with its exploiters it cannot secure enough to maintain itself. Heretofore the Anarchist stood alone in pointing out the law (the respect for it, the lack of spirit to violate it) as the principal source of all the economical trouble. Now Jay Gould confirms him. “I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.”
The London “Today” prints a report of a Fabian meeting at which Wordsworth Donisthorpe lectured on “Property.” We read: “A good many questions followed Mr. Donisthorpe’s down-sitting. The discussion was begun by Mr. Webb, who made a rather savage attack upon the lecturer, charging him with inconsistency and disingenuousness — the latter half of the charge being subsequently withdrawn and apologized for. Mrs. Besant accused Mr. Donisthorpe of saying things of workmen which, if said by him to the people in the East End, might incite them to rise and give Belgravia a bad quarter of an hour. A remark to which the lecturer replied, later on, that he thought a quarter of an hour would be just about the time the rebellion would last. Mr. Wallas thought that the lecturer was only an Anarchist. Mr. Shaw said, very justly, that some of the Fabians had behaved like bigots in attributing insincerity to Mr. Donisthorpe when he had only shown inconsistency.” It is evident that in their treatment of individualistic opponents the cultured Fabians show little superiority to the vulgar partisan State Socialists. Those who pride themselves on knowing how to wait should also know how to be tolerant and civil. But there is something in their creed (and who does not know what it is?) which demoralizes and makes bigots of most of them.
John H. Ward of Louisville, Ky., has written a pamphlet in which he advocates “Reform Within the Party.” After describing the corruption permeating “everything political throughout the country,” and laying down the guiding rule that “every step in progress has been made by the means of a greater freedom,” he reaches the conclusion that “the first steps toward political freedom should be the destruction of our present small legislative districts and the creation of others from three to nine times or more larger, in which a person will not be forced to choose between an unfit candidate of his own party, a political opponent little, if any, better, or not voting at all. When a voter can choose between from three to nine candidates of his own party... he begins really to have a choice in voting that he can exercise with a fair degree of freedom.” Mr. Ward seems to be free-minded and sincere, but the true causes of the evils in question have escaped him. Spooner’s “Letter to Cleveland” would convince him that all such remedies as he proposes must prove barren of any salutary effect. As long as government controls the industrial interests of the community to any extent, and is based on compulsory taxation, it is easier for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven (and that is not so very easy, it will be remembered) than for a politician and legislator to remain honest and clean-handed.
The Rag-Picker of Paris.
By Felix Pyat.
Translated from the French by Benj. B. Tucker.
Continued from No. 144.
Mme. Potard succeeded by an effort in recovering her self-possession.
“Well, here’s a curious fellow, indeed I And what’s that to you?”
“Ah! And why?”
“I want to know,” said Jean, smiling. “An old woman’s whim, Madame Potard. You can take it or leave it.”
Mme. Potard, recovered from her shock, sat down in her turn and glanced furtively at Jean.
“Why, Monsieur, I earned them by my labor; they are the fruit of my savings.” “Tell that to the marines!” exclaimed the rag-picker, shrugging his shoulders. And he questioned her as if he were a magistrate.
“You lost these notes in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, did you not?”
“At four o’clock in the morning.
“What of it?”
Jean folded his arms.
“What were you doing at night, at four o’clock in the morning, with ten thousand francs in your pocket? That is not natural.”
Madame Potard was disturbed, seeing herself getting deeper and deeper into the mire.
“Nevertheless it is perfectly true, I swear to you... I was returning from my notary’s.”
“At that hour,” said Jean, bursting out laughing, “notaries’ offices are closed. A midwife does not run about the streets at four o’clock in the morning with her pocket full of bank-notes, unless she has a reason for it. There is something beneath all this... Come, out with it... or good-bye, Bank!”
The midwife rose, furious at being caught in a lie, and assuming in her turn a threatening tone.
“Ah! but you too are a little queer, yourself. I find you astonishing with your questions... and it is very obliging in me to answer them. These notes are mine. They do not concern you, and I shall find a way to force you to return them.”
“And I to force you to speak,” said Jean, resolutely.
“Yes, that’s it,” cried Mme. Potard, growing rebellious and running to the bell. “Well, we shall see. I am going to call the police.”
Father Jean walked quietly to the fireplace, and said:
“And I am going to throw the notes into the fire.”
Mme. Potard was not expecting this straight blow.
She stopped in amazement.
Jean, still smiling, held up the package.
“One for every time that you refuse,” he said.
“Ah! don’t be idiotic,” exclaimed the midwife, coming back to Jean.
“As true as the fire burns,” he declared, separating one of the notes from the rest.
“He is mad,” cried Mme. Potard, in terror.
“I begin,” said Jean, stooping down before the fire. “See? Will you tell?” And receiving no reply, he threw the note into the fire.
“One,” said he, simply.
Mme. Potard nearly went crazy.
“But that’s a thousand francs, you stupid brute. Don’t you know what that is, you savage?”
And seeing the note reduced to ashes, she groaned sorrowfully:
“Burned! Burned! Oh!”
“Have you anything to say?” resumed Jean. “Two!” e made a taper of a second note, and, lighting it in the fire, let it burn slowly in his fingers, while Mme. Potard threw herself vainly upon him to tear from him the flaming note, burning her hands in the attempt without succeeding in getting it or putting out the flame.
“Oh! monster! demon! sacrilege!” she screamed in horror, her eyes starting from her head in her rage. “So much money! Can it be possible? The good God’s money which it is so hard to earn. Rascal, you shall pay me for this!” And enraged at her powerlessness, she exclaimed:
“Oh! to think that I cannot kill him on the spot!”
Then she shouted in her frenzy:
“Help! fire! thief! murderer!”
Jean bent over toward the fire again.
“Another step, another cry, and I throw in the whole package.”
“He would do as he says,” said Mme. Potard, crushed. “Oh! I shall die.”
And she fell back coldly on her chair.
“Come,” said Jean, “let us decide. Three!”
He made a motion to throw’ in another note.
“Stop!” cried Mme. Potard, seizing his arm.
“At last!” said Jean.
“Well! let us share.”
“No, all or nothing.”
“All, you say, and all for me?”
“Except the two that are burned, of course.”
“Such good notes,” sighed Mme. Potard. “It is worse than murder.”
“It is your fault... Come.”
Reflecting, the midwife said to herself:
“Twenty thousand francs that I have to keep silent, and eight thousand that I shall have to speak. Total”....
“Make haste,” said Jean, firmly.
“I am calculating,” cried Mme. Potard.
And, approaching the rag-picker, she asked:
“But what interest have you in knowing this secret?”
“Ah! you see there is a secret,” said Jean, taking her at her word. “Give it up, or else”....
And again he made the threatening gesture.
“One minute, forceps!” exclaimed Mme. Potard; “let me breathe! But what do you want, then, if you return me all?”
“The secret or the fire.”
But Mme. Potard, suddenly illuminated, cried:
“How stupid I am!”
And tapping him on the shoulder, she said:
“Ah! you sly dog, I see the trick. You want more, a hundred times more. You are right, to be sure. When one has an opportunity, he should profit by it... and this is a good one.”
“As you say.”
Madame Potard took Father Jean for a blackmailer of the first class, and, bowing in his honor, she said:
“I salute you, my master; I never thought of that, simpleton that I am. Yes, that would be a stroke, and a lucky one; I see, I see.”
And, laughing at her perspicacity, she added:
“You want to make the canary sing.”*
“Yes, my sly old girl.”
“You should have said so, then, and I would have accompanied you directly. It is a familiar air... You have a secret worth more than those, you greedy rascal.” said she, pointing to the notes. “You give me the egg for the hen.”
“A good layer”....
“You are right. Then let us divide... I will tell everything.”
And Mme. Potard sat down again.
“Agreed,” said Jean, putting the notes back in his pocket.
“There’s nothing like coming to an understanding,” said the midwife.
“I am listening.”
Mme. Potard made Jean sit down beside her, and continued in a familiar tone: “Then, partner, let us explain ourselves; let us agree upon our shares. Cards on the table. Eight thousand francs is not enough for such a secret, a treasure, a mine, a California! So we will make an honest and fitting arrangement. First you shall return me my eight notes... and after that halves in everything.”
“Agreed,” said Jean, after a pause.
The midwife gave a final indication of distrust.
“May one have confidence?” she asked.
“It’s not to be had for the asking, but I know how to manage the stroke as well as another.”
“Oh! that indeed!” she exclaimed.
Then she added:
“Are you honest? That’s what I meant to ask.”
“You have your notes for security.”
“Don’t give us the dunce act. You will not sell me out? Do you understand?”
“Oh! the idea!”
To clinch the matter, she concluded:
“Certainly you are not of the security police?”
“Of the salubrity police, suspicious creature. I clean Paris. See where my rake scraped the notes.”
“How easy to spoil and burn!”
And drawing nearer to the rag-picker, who sat imperturbable, but all ears despite his air of indifference, she added:
“Then that goes. Listen.”
“Listen carefully,” repeated M,e. Potard. “A month ago, at the time of the Carnival, on the night of Mardi-Gras, I was to lose a new-born infant, in consideration of ten notes of a thousand francs each. One must live, you know. The mother did not know about it; perhaps she did not want it done; but her father did. How could I please both? In case of doubt, refrain; isn’t that the way? Besides, after getting the notes, my courage failed me. And yet they say that money makes people bad. Oftener the opposite. I wanted to save the child, and I carried it to the lodgings of a working-girl, my seamstress, an accommodating creature whom I knew to be capable of caring for it. Once there, I left the child, lost to the father, but discoverable by his daughter. Thus everybody was satisfied.”
“And the working-girl?” asked Jean.
Mme. Potard responded:
“Upon my honor, I meant to give her something for her trouble.”
“Ye gods! Hell is paved with good intentions.”
“Oh! don’t speak of hell,” exclaimed the midwife, seriously.
“All right,” said Jean, “we will return to Paradise. We were saying then”... “Why, that I would far rather divide than run into danger. But everything is a matter of luck. I did not find the working-girl, and I lost the notes. Of course I was obliged to leave the child to the mercy of God.”
“And of the working-girl, good heart, go on!”
“Too good!” approved the midwife. “For through trying to save the child I lost the money. And they say that a good deed is never lost.”
“You see that it is not,” observed Jean. “But that isn’t all. The names of these mysterious persons of this night of Mardi-Gras?”
Mme. Potard hesitated a minute, and then, making up her mind, answered: “Oh, yes. Well, Mademoiselle Claire Hoffmann, daughter of Baron Hoffmann, is the mother, and Marie Didier is the working-girl.”
“Well,” said he, “you have dotted the Is; now for the rest.”
“What rest?” asked the midwife, her face darkening.
“The end of the story.”
“Oh, less mystery! The child that you saved a month ago was killed yesterday.”
“Hush!” exclaimed Mme. Potard.
“Come,” insisted Jean, “you have made an angel of it.”
“Speak lower, wretch,” whispered the midwife.
“An angel,” repeated Jean, “on account of the devil All right! silence in the workshop! And now for the proof of all this?”
This question disconcerted Mme. Potard.
“The proof?” she exclaimed.
“Yes, the proof. I can do nothing without proof.”
“To be sure.”
“And I must have proof, and good proof, in order to act.”
“Of course,” said Mme. Potard.
She went to her secretary and got a letter, which she showed to Jean.
“There, read that, if you know how to read.”
Then, distrustfully holding back the letter, she said:
“Madame, I do not know what bargain has been made with you touching the deposit confided to your care; but if unfortunately it is for your interest to lose it, it is still more for your interest, I swear to you, to keep it. Be kind enough, then, I beg of you, to guard it with maternal care until it shall be claimed; you will be rewarded. — C. H.”
“Claire Hoffmann,” she explained.
“The daughter of the baron, Mademoiselle Claire Hoffmann?”
“Yes, she sent me that yesterday. She learned my address from the woman who cared for her during child-birth, and to whom I ventured to give my card. One never knows what may happen, eh? What music!”
“Enough said,” said Jean, “give and take; there are your notes; count them.” He gave her the notes, put the letter in their place in the Didier pocket-book, and then, putting it back m his pocket, began to get ready to go.
Mme. Potard, having counted the notes, sighed:
“Eight!... no more? Two wanting, you know... Pardoned, but not quits.”
“Bah!” exclaimed Jean, as he started off, “we shall have plenty more.”
Mme. Potard retained him by the skirt of his old coat.
“That letter, you know, is worth a hundred times as much. To part with that for eight thousand francs would be to let it go for nothing.”
“For nothing at all, in comparison with what I want for it. We will keep our coach and four.”
“For the last time, then, it is understood and agreed,” said Mme. Potard, “half for me and two besides.”
“It has been said again and again, old repeater,” said Jean, “half and more. I assure you the best end of the bargain.”
“Right away,” said the midwife, now decidedly won, “for I am obliged to leave.”
“Right away, Madame Potard, right away! I am in a greater hurry than you are.”
And he hastened off.
Mme. Potard struck her forehead.
“Say, there!” she shouted.
“Again?” exclaimed Jean.
“Yes, I am thinking,” said the midwife, “what the baron will say.”
“The baron!” said Jean. “Rest easy on that score. I will not compromise you. I am not so stupid as that. Everything will go like clock-work. You lost the letter with the notes, and I found the whole. See?”
“Let me embrace you,” cried Mme. Potard, carried away in spite of herself. “What a man! Ready for everything! It is your affair. Go ahead, you are equal to it. Stay! Instead of sharing, let us marry.”
Jean drew back further and further toward the door.
“Thank you, my dear,” said he, “I am not free. Too happy already to be your partner.”
“That’s a pity,” sighed Madame Potard. “Well, then, we will share. Good luck! Au revoir!”
And Jean went out precipitately.
Madame Potard, left alone, went into ecstasies over her notes, counting them again.
“Eight and twenty, twenty-eight! Thirty with the two burned ones. Oh! he will replace them. I have faith; a pretty little treasure all the same, even though it should make no little ones... But it will. Make some, I beg of you! No matter, thirty at five per cent, will give an income of fifteen hundred francs. I shall not die of hunger. I will retire to the country, far from the Parisian police. Paris is not healthy, as the baron said. I will go to Montrouge and marry the chief of the gendarmes.”
And, delighted with this charming plan of retirement, Mme. Potard closed her secretary again after a last look of adoration at her “savings.”
End of Part Third.
Baron Hoffmann, with anxious brow, entered the superb dining-room of his mansion. The room, always luxurious, wore also, on this evening, an air of festivity. The side-board, a marvel of sculpture and carving, was simply loaded with rare flowers and fruits. A side-table was covered with bottles containing the entire gamut of exquisite and generous wines, not the ordinary richness of every day, but the opulence and elegance of a dinner of ceremony, to precede the making of a contract in due form; for on this evening Camille was to come to conclude the “affair” of marriage, in company with the notary, Loiseau.
The table, dazzling in its whiteness, glittering with silver ware beneath the chandelier lighted with its hundred candles whose flames were multiplied in its thousand crystals of glass, was set for only four people. The banker threw a master’s glance at the splendid furniture, the soft carpet, the Sèvres porcelain, the splendid paintings, and all the surroundings, calculated to stimulate good humor and good appetite, and, satisfied with the preparations, turned his thoughts upon the expected guests.
“Seven o’clock,” said he, tapping his foot on the floor, “and no one here yet.” Laurent entered with a letter on a silver plate.
“A letter from Monsieur Berville,” he announced to his master.
At the same moment Claire appeared, serious and looking at her father with an indescribable expression of horror and pity.
The baron, after reading, muttered in sullen anger:
Then he said to the servant:
“Go; I will send an answer.”
And, turning to his daughter, he continued:
“Camille, whom I expected with his notary, will not come. I had good reason to fear some rash decision. This is what he says: he wishes to break his engagement.”
“Seriously?” cried Claire, with joy.
“Quite so,” said the baron. “He makes a definitive demand for his accounts. It is no longer you who refuse; it is he. This damned marriage is destined to drag along forever; fortunately the fool is ruined and his sweetheart arrested.”
“Arrested!” exclaimed Claire. “For what?”
“For infanticide,” responded the baron, brutally.
Claire sank down, uttering a groan.
The baron ran to sustain his daughter.
“How pale she is!” he anxiously exclaimed. “Suppose she should die! Shipwrecked in sight of port!”
But she soon recovered her senses.
“And you dare to accuse her?” she murmured. “Oh! but that is too much, Monsieur.”
“I will save her; compose yourself,” the banker hastened to say. “I will save her; but no weakness! We must think now of but one object,— your marriage.” “Oh! shall I go as far as that?” said Claire, woefully. “I shall lose my reason, if not my life. I have no will left; nothing but a remnant of dying conscience. I feel nothing but the grief of which I shall be the perpetual prey. Though you hide our crimes from others, I cannot hide them from myself. I am not as strong as you, Monsieur. I can stifle fear, but not remorse.”
“Your scruples again!” retorted the baron; “you take everything too much to heart. I will save her, I tell you. It was the only way. Alas! I could not choose. It was necessary to accuse her. It is still necessary, in order to take Camille from her; it is essential to our safety, as you know, and to her own. For now she cannot be saved except after us and by our aid.”
“Ah I you have changed my fault into a crime,” answered Claire, in despair. “Before, I was your victim; now my guilty weakness makes me your accomplice. Religion, duty, love,— there is nothing left in me of the woman, or of the mother, or of humanity. Oh, God I my nature is ruined!”
“Child, I take everything upon myself.”
But Claire solemnly replied:
“Are you, then, tired of waiting for justice? Do you find her too slow that you press her so hard? Do you not see that she comes a step nearer with each of our crimes? For my part, I quake already under the shadow of her hand. Let us stop.”
“Coward!” exclaimed the baron. “The world is not the convent whence you came. There are no penalties for the powerful. You belong to the race of masters, Duchess de Crillon-Garousse. Trust then to my experience, and take the law into your own hands. Life is a struggle. Each one for himself, and the devil take the hindmost! It is the law of nature, the right of the strongest... you know, the lamb is for the wolf, the Didiers for the Hoffmanns. A curse upon the weak! Victory to the strong!”
Claire made a gesture of terror.
“Oh! do not justify our infernal egoism by this law of evil. Do not blaspheme! do not tempt God!”
“This law of iron rules us,” answered the baron; “let us follow it. We did not make it, we cannot change it; under it we must choose the best course for ourselves and others... and well-ordered charity begins at home. Let us not be more benevolent than the proverb. I will save this girl, I swear to you, but after us... as is just, in her turn; I will even reward her; you shall aid me in it, that is your part.”
And abandoning himself still further to his grand nobleman’s morality, he went on:
“Besides, the evil is not so great. Do not exaggerate. Your sensitive nature makes a monster of everything. Hers is that of her class. A plaster of silver will dress her wound. A generous dowry in her apron with a workingman on her arm when she leaves the prison, and all will be settled. We shall be quits.”
Claire lowered her head, conquered.
“Oh! my father,” she murmured, “I shudder at your cruel sophistry and your frightful examples. And my cowardly conscience, in yielding, foresees the just penalty which I incur in following them. God will punish me for obeying you.” Just then Laurent entered after first knocking, and she became silent again.
“A man asks to speak to Monsieur the baron,” said the servant.
“I am not in,” answered the baron.
And, the servant having gone out, he said to his daughter:
“Let us finish. We must promptly answer Camille that he is ruined and she is lost; shame and poverty,— there is no love that can stand against those two remedies. So no more frights! Be bold. The marriage shall take place; that is settled.”
Laurent returned with an air of hesitation, and said:
“This man insists, and asks to speak to Monsieur in behalf of Madame Potard.” The baron again became anxious.
“What can it be?” he asked himself.
Then, coming to a decision, he gave the order:
“Let him enter.”
Laurent went out.
“What does this mean?” cried Claire, in alarm.
“Leave me; I am going to find out,” said the baron, in a tone of authority.
And he waited with a firm foot, ready for anything.
Banker and Rag-Picker.
“Monsieur the baron Hoffmann?” asked Jean, entering abruptly just in time to see Claire go out.
The banker gauged him with his eye for a moment, in anticipation of an enemy, but the man’s appearance reassured him.
“I am the baron,” said he, disdainfully.
The rag-picker pointed to Laurent, and said in a lower tone:
“I have a word to say in your ear.”
“Laurent, go out,” ordered the banker.
Left alone, banker and rag-picker surveyed each other, as if to measure their respective strengths before entering upon the struggle.
“We shall play cautiously,” said Jean to himself.
The baron passed his hand over his forehead, as if trying to refresh his memory, as he thought:
“I have seen this fellow before... What does he want?”
Jean wiped his brow also, saying to himself:
“How he eves me! The name Potard has had its effect.”
The baron looked him suddenly in the face.
“What do you want?”
“To sit down first... I am tired,” answered Jean, sitting down without losing sight of his adversary.
The baron was more disturbed than indignant at this lack of ceremony.
“What assurance!” said he to himself, “the insolent fellow!”
“And then to talk with you,” continued Jean, still mopping his brow.
“That voice”... thought the baron.
And, viewing him with redoubled attention, he inquired:
To be continued.
* A French idiom, signifying the extortion of blackmail.
“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.
J’y Suis, J’y Reste.
The editor of Liberty sends out the present issue with no little fear and misgiving, for the reason that it is such an uncommonly good number and none of the credit of it belongs to him. During the unexpected and protracted illness from which he has only just recovered, those ambitious comrades, Yarros, Simpson, and the Schumms, have cruelly taken advantage of his absence from his post to plan a paper that would eclipse his best achievements, writing, selecting, and translating for it the best that they possibly could, in the hope doubtless of causing a spirit of dissatisfaction among his readers that would compel him to resign in their favor. But this conspiracy is destined to fail. The editor is at the helm again, as well and sound as ever, and determined to pursue his original editorial policy of pleasing himself first, whether he pleases his subscribers or not. He regrets, however, the long delay in the publication of the paper, and hopes that any recurrence thereof may be avoided.
To Trifling Questioners.
To those who are devoting their best efforts to the promulgation of a principle upon the clear conception of which, as they think, the prosperity and happiness of mankind depend, there is no more discouraging experience than this,— that even the majority of those who are desirous of knowing what in the name of sense there really is in this “new notion” would like to arrive at a knowledge of it with one bound. They ask: “What is Anarchy?” and expect to be enlightened in a few short sentences concerning the whole vast domain of human relationships comprised in that word. As soon ask: “What is Astronomy?” with the expectation of viewing within the compass of a single picture the wonders of the heavens as they hover before the eyes of the astronomical explorer.
The word can indeed be briefly defined, both as to its etymology and as to its meaning. It can be shown in few words what is meant by an Anarchistic state of society. But if we do condescend to give information by means of such general definitions, we do it with the very discouraging conviction that our questioner is now about as wise as he had been, and that whatever we have gained by our attempt at enlightenment is of a most negative character: that we have made of an ignorant neutral an equally ignorant opponent. For our conception of liberty appears to him so incomprehensible in its novelty and so thoroughly revolutionary that it at once arouses his whole opposition. He suddenly feels himself called upon to rigorously combat what hitherto had been indifferent to him. Even in that there would be real gain, if our opponent would use only mental weapons against us, and were thus forced to inquire more deeply into the cause which he combats. In that case we could desire nothing more but that honesty and conscientiousness should be among the foremost factors in his mental equipment, for then the seed is sown which is destined to yield rich harvest.
But, as happens only too often, this first awakening of the spirit of opposition, resulting from a direct and general definition of our principles, is allowed to stand as the final judgment over them, and our newly-fledged opponent is done with such nonsense forever more. Even with him who for reasons of personal courtesy still feigns a certain interest, the resolution remains unshaken that he is above such utopian extravagances — and all further attempts to elucidate and to enlarge upon the principles of Anarchy glide off from this sterile intellectual superiority without making an impression.
What remains after this? It is certainly a most edifying confession to have to make to one’s self: “Here again have you cast pearls before the swine,” and one involuntarily shrinks from a repetition of this humiliating experience. But when I consider what is at stake, that it is not a mere matter of wounded self-conceit that may well be excused for shrinking back upon itself rather than be a target for ignorant scorn, but a matter of spreading a light which must remain a will-o’-the-wisp so long as it shines but for the very few, and can become a boon only when it begins to shine for all, then I bethink myself and will not be silenced until I have once more attempted to induce my trifling questioner to leave off trifling for a while and in all earnestness to swing open the gates of his mind for the teachings of Liberty. I would have him remember that every serious, honest thought and aspiration is worthy of sympathy and of examination; that we cannot expect to leap with one bound into the midst of a domain into which all but perhaps a few chosen minds must penetrate step by step. Only as we proceed thus gradually do we become aware that, whatever there may be in the matter, there certainly is more in it than we had anticipated in our first positive judgment of it.
He who would not be content to glide along the surface of life, but who would face its good and its evil with the earnestness of a thoughtful mind, requires above all two things: on the one side, confidence in his own reason as against ancient beliefs and widespread opinions; on the other, that intellectual modesty which never hesitates to admit that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in his philosophy. Thus, with the modesty of a truly deep thinker, Emerson wrote to a friend who had questioned him concerning his religious opinions:
If I can contribute any aid by sympathy or suggestion to the solution of those great problems that occupy you, I shall be very glad. But I think it must be done by degrees. I am not sufficiently master of the little truth I see to know how to state it in terms so general as shall put every mind in possession of my point of view. We generalize and rectify our expressions by continual efforts from day to day, from month to month, to reconcile our own light with that of our companions. So shall two inquirers have the best mutual action on each other. But I should never attempt a direct answer to such questions as yours. I have no language that could shortly present my state of mind in regard to each of them with any fidelity; for my state of mind in each is in no way final and detached, but tentative, progressive, and strictly connected with the whole circle of my thoughts.
So an Emerson could speak, who had succeeded as but few men have in getting back of the things whose external appearances puzzle and lead astray us mediocre men and women. May all those who triflingly ask, “What is Anarchy?” learn from him that they can never get a satisfactory answer to their question as long as their mental attitude towards it is such as it is; even should they read whole volumes in exposition of it. Not until they have seriously brought their whole intellectual integrity to bear upon it, summoned all their powers of observation and placed them at the service of their sense of justice, can they know what Anarchy means and understand its high economical, social, and ethical significance.
E. H. S.
* * *
Even the Attleboro “Sturdy Oak” cannot help seeing that “compulsory society destroys the object for which society exists.”
Evolution of Revolutionary Thought.
Elsewhere will be found a letter on the social revolution from the pen of Alexander Herzen which is deserving of careful study. So far as the negative part of the letter is concerned, it is as irreproachable and unchallengeable, as vitally true and important, and as admirably and skilfully expressed as if it had been a late production of one who, in addition to a philosophical mind, enjoyed the advantages of the knowledge and experience which the radical element has gathered in the entire period dividing us from Herzen’s time. All the criticisms of the ordinary revolutionary view of the task and significance of the social transformation gradually ripening and destined some day to culminate in wondrous effects upon our prosaic world, the reasoning about the futility and impropriety of force, passion, sentiment, or imagination as factors in reform, the arguments against the extreme and absurd policy of the fanatical revolutionists,— all this is perhaps no less valuable and no less in need of being said, reiterated, and emphasized today than it was at the time of Herzen’s existence. I would earnestly request the modern disciples of the enthusiastic Bakounine to weigh and take to heart the sterling utterances of the wise and noble Herzen in the letter addressed to their master.
Regarding the constructive part of the letter of course there is something to be said from our standpoint, some exceptions to be taken and some comment to be made. What at that time may really have been the last word of social science, the last revelation, the most advanced opinion of progressive students, must now of necessity prove incomplete and unsatisfactory. As Herzen reminds Bakounine that certain changes in the environment could not fail to influence thought, so it must be that recent developments and newly-accumulated facts have considerably affected the soundness of Herzen’s views and call for their amendment. Now, truth being higher than all other interests, and growth being the result of healthy activity, it is a pleasure to be able to assert that, as Herzen pointed to a new phase in the natural evolution of the revolutionary idea and appealed to the slumbering adherents of exploded theories and reactionary practices for a due intelligent recognition of the change and an adaptation of conduct to the modified conditions, so the time has now come for another thorough inspection of the whole arsenal of revolutionary ammunition and a new examination of the weapons with a view to separate the rusty and unfit from those available for the continuation of the fight. I do not wonder that Herzen did not see and think as we see and think today; our ideas were scarcely possible at that epoch, or, at least, they could not then achieve a directing influence. But now they are being proclaimed as not only in consistent accord with the line of distinctively modern philosophy, but as based on the practical lessons of the past revolutionary agitation. And the apparently overwhelming opposition which we meet can only stimulate our energies, not shake our confidence.
What, then, when all of Herzen’s reservations are taken into consideration, does there remain as his own conception? What, as improved and perfected by him, is the idea of the social revolution, both as to its ultimate aim and as to its means of realization? The “general ideal” we find to be “collective property and solidarity”; not any compulsory system of collectivism or communism, but one voluntarily organized by the whole people in obedience to the conviction, on the part of the non-possessing class, that only through collective property can the monstrous evils accompanying civilization be eradicated and equitable relations made possible, and on the part of the possessing elements, that only by gracefully submitting to such a reorganization of social economy and industry can they escape utter annihilation and be granted the privilege of honorable citizenship in the new society. His method is summed up in the word education, and he insists that both the proletaires and the capitalists must be enlightened and instructed in the truths, principles, and logical consequences of the coming order, though naturally the mode of addressing the latter would be somewhat different from that employed in propaganda among the former.
From the ethical and other points of view the superiority of this programme to the one outlined by Bakounine is obvious and unquestionable. In point of clearness it also excels the Marxian conception. Bakounine disgusts our mental and moral nature by the crude and primitive simplicity as well as the atrocious cruelty of his plans; as to Marx, his high-sounding phrases about the process of historical development necessitating the extinction of the old organism and decreeing the birth of a new do not prevent him from building his hopes on the consciously directed energies of an organized rebellious majority aroused to the fact of their unmerited misery and suffering. Herzen understood that human opinion is the agency through which evolution performs its work in the social world, and his native gentleness was repelled by the intemperate advocacy of force.
But admitting all this, is he not at bottom in accord with the orthodox Socialists, and is he not guilty of the same serious fundamental errors for which we pass unfavorable judgment upon the schools which he criticises? We have seen that his belief in collective property is implicit; no doubt seems to have crossed his mind in regard to that. But the days of the idea of collective property are numbered, and it will soon be discarded as a delusion. Rational people more and more begin to perceive its practical impossibility and to realize that it is not so essential to social harmony and equality as has been held. Before long it will be considered stupendous folly to soberly entertain so chimerical a notion, and it will become to Socialism what the mercantile theory has been to the economists since Adam Smith. The idea distinctly belongs to the infancy of Socialism, to the time when individuality and liberty were not recognized as factors, when a few leaders thought and sought to preach the gospel of Socialism in the good old way of their religious prototypes and to spread it as Christianity and Islamism had been before it. Great stress was laid then on organization and discipline; nothing was said about critical analysis and the right of competing systems to a free field. But Socialism is reaching maturity and is learning wisdom from experience. At the present day the cry is for liberty and toleration, and the multiplicity of schools, theories, and reforms makes scientific research and calm reflection the greatest need. Military and religious methods will not do in this sceptical and rationalistic age. Orthodox Socialism, like orthodox economy, of which it is the offspring, has been tried and found wanting. The grain of truth hidden under “collective property” has been preserved by all modern schools, especially by Anarchism. Association is to be the watchword of the future; the coming social order will be largely based on cooperation. But this is not to be identified with the original idea of collective property, to which many still cling in consequence of their inability to discern in Anarchism the latest form assumed by progressively developing and perfecting Socialism.
Taking, then, the liberty of declaring the “general ideal” of modern Socialism to be liberty and voluntary cooperation, we next come to the question of means. Here also we are conscious of great changes. The art of insurrection is declining, and the idea of an organized revolution on the part of either the whole or a majority of the people has been well-nigh universally abandoned. For revolution to thrive two things are essential: a mass of easily inflammable material on the one hand, and a constant supply of ardent and skilled conspirators on the other. Of both there is a noticeable scarcity at present. Of our day it might truly be said that the pen is mightier than the sword. To expect to persuade the possessing classes to surrender their wealth, or to dream of uniting the workers for a forcible expropriation of the capitalists, seems now so puerile and utopian that discussion with those still persisting in hugging these fantasies is considered as out of date as a laborious argumentative attack on the superstitions of the seventeenth century. We now so plainly see the confusion, reaction, and chaos that successful expropriation would plunge us into that really we feel it a boon to rest assured that no such Pyrrhus victory can befall us. Not only Anarchists, but even State Socialists, are discarding the “catastrophic” policy. Among the latter the tendency is observed to transfer the centre of activity into the political sphere, and to use the legal machinery of government for the slow and gradual introduction of separate planks of their platform. And there can be no doubt that this method is well calculated to popularize their demands and compel practical politicians to embody them in their promises and occasionally to enact them into law. The people cherish the government, and it is much easier to enlist their goodwill in a cause involving governmental exertion than in one ignoring government or involving opposition to it. But a deeper insight enables us to perceive that this seemingly favorable method is treacherous and suicidal. Far from congratulating themselves over the present legislative drift in the direction of collectivism, judicious believers of that principle should decline to be held responsible for the outcome of this legislation. Logic as well as recent experience abundantly prove that no measure sanctioned by the lawmaker, however well conceived, ever results in the least utility. Our so-called political rights are allowed upon the condition of their being harmless. To fancy that the legal machinery of monopoly may be turned against its engineers and utilized for purposes other than those it habitually serves is to underestimate the mental powers of the enemy. We, for our part, cheerfully wait for the inevitable failure of the collectivist measures now so vigorously pushed, and for the stampede of the disappointed governmentalists in the opposite direction,— that of Anarchism.
* * *
A few weeks ago Lum made a statement in explanation of the sudden and mysterious suspension of the “Alarm.” In a letter to his patrons appearing in the Denver “Arbitrator” (the paper he has chosen to succeed the “Alarm”) he said: “When the paper suspended in Chicago, New York friends took the matter in hand and promised to guarantee it a generous support. Several unions subscribed freely, but as time passed objections arose to what they were pleased to term my ‘individualism.’ Indoctrinated instinctively with the spirit of authority, an effort was made to remove me and appoint another editor. In fact, certain individuals, whose whole conception of the social revolution in which we are now living consisted in present blatherskite eloquence and future barricades, and who were not even subscribers, actually offered the paper to a noisy Communist who, like them, was unable to grasp the economic principles I had always considered paramount to aught else. Failing to confiscate what my labor had built up, they suddenly withdrew their support... I had either to run into debt or suspend. I preferred the latter course as more honorable.” In a recent issue of the “Freiheit” Most gives his side of the story. It seems that when the “New York friends” invited Lum to revive his paper under their auspices they did so in the belief and hope that he would gradually convert the “Alarm” into as sound and consistent an advocate of Communistic Anarchy as it had been under Parsons, which hope and belief, it is said, found confirmation in Lum’s private confession that the whole business of mutualism and free credit and banking was “the merest humbug,” which it would not do to unmask too abruptly, but which it was his intention to gently throw overboard at the first favorable opportunity. Furthermore, it was expected that he would display zeal and interest in the revolutionary agitation, which stands in need of English-speaking orators. But when the Communistic friends of Lum saw that time brought no signs of improvement on his part, that the “humbug” theories were persisted in, that he not only abstained from actively pushing the local propaganda but openly paraded his purely American indifference, and that he was neglectful and careless of his duties generally, they became indignant and demanded his resignation, designing to put the paper in better hands. This demand was met by a declaration that “Lum is the ‘Alarm’ and the ‘Alarm’ is Lum.” Then the Communists concluded to withdraw their support and kill the paper. In presence of this clashing conflict of charge and countercharge, Liberty does not know whether to believe Lum or Most, or neither, or both. It does know, however, that it foresaw this very pretty quarrel from the start. Compromisers are reasonably sure to come to grief. May this be a warning to other anti-plumb-liners!
Sharing a talent characteristic of many State Socialists dealing with serious subjects, some peripatetic philosopher, writing in a late issue of “Der Sozialist” under the headline “Kritische Spaziergange,” meets with a measure of success in amusing intelligent readers by his involuntarily comical deliverances on Anarchism. The grotesque mingling of truth and fiction by this newly-fledged philosopher is indeed a matter for mirth, and the editor of “Der Sozialist” exposes himself to the censure of all fun-loving persons by breaking the spell when he offers a parenthetical correction of the alleged fact that “Anarchists are opposed to production on the large scale,” to the effect that in “Freiheit” of late the opposition to production on the large scale had given way to its championship. So much for the State Socialistic merryman and his patron. At this point John Most steps in and closes a paragraph in “Freiheit” in vindication of his position with these words: “Our paper has never protested against anything more emphatically than against the malicious imputation, constantly brought up by Social Democrats in reference to Anarchists, according to which the latter are made to appear as contemplating petty bourgeoisism [Kleinbürgertum], while such nonsense slumbers exclusively in the skull of Tucker, who indeed calls himself an Anarchist, but who really has nothing whatever to do with the labor movement.” As a specimen of unmitigated snobbery and poltroonery (to say nothing of the stupid falsehood itself) I think this effusion of the chief of the Communists may safely challenge comparison.
* * *
Whether it is true or not that Mr. Lloyd is a Communistic Anarchist “in everything but name,” as my Australian correspondent alleges in the article printed on another page, it is best to leave it for him to settle. I have no doubt he will look into the “commentary” on his statements. But I must point out here that Mr. Andrews’s whole argument in defence of Communist Anarchism is constructed and based on a fallacy,— on the misconception with which he starts out that the principle of Individualism is “Each as he pleases.” Had his assumption been correct, his subsequent reasoning about needing being at the bottom of pleasing would have been sound enough to justify the charge of inconsistency he makes against us. But when it is remembered that our principle is “Each as he pleases at his own cost” the consideration of “needs” is seen to be foreign to our view of human relations. It is strange that this vital qualification, so constantly kept in sight by Liberty’s writers, should have been ignored by so discriminating a reader as my present correspondent. We are all anxious to secure “the true social economy”; but we claim that free exchange perfectly suffices to insure its conscious observance as well as its spontaneous realization. All the instances adduced merely illustrate the advantages of mutualism and intelligent cooperation; as a demonstration of the necessity of disregarding “deserts” and building upon “needs” Mr. Andrews’s article cannot be pronounced a success.
* * *
Gunton’s reasoning about the dependence of distribution upon production is now unreservedly endorsed by Gronlund, who claims that the main benefit of Socialism is to be found in the increased production which it would render possible, and that Gunton’s book supports Socialism instead of weakening it in showing that the evils of our system of distribution are not serious. Gronlund must be even more ignorant than Gunton if he cannot see that “Wealth and Progress” directly antagonizes the economics of Socialism and puts forth ideas which, if sound, destroy the necessity for any reorganization of industry involving the abolition of the reward of capital. As to the Socialists who applaud such teachers, “what fools these mortals [must] be!”
* * *
The Communistic firebugs of New York and vicinity, whose ugly doings were effectually stopped for a time by Liberty’s exposure of a few years ago, have renewed the practice of their diabolism. Is Liberty again expected to do the work which the inefficient police and fire departments of New York and Brooklyn so signally fail to perform?
The Free-Trade-in-Capital League.
I print the following manifesto, which was received at this office a few weeks ago, almost in full, certain that all my readers and sympathizers will be as interested, delighted, and encouraged by it as I was. The State Socialist movement assuming more and more formidable proportions and becoming aggressive and confident, it is gratifying to know that in England, no less than in America, the lovers of liberty, true social progress, and healthy development are in all respects equal to the task of combating the “coming slavery.” A few such leagues and a little energetic activity on the part of clear-headed and informed thinkers, and the danger will be averted. The clouds of imposture, bigoted ignorance, and superstitious faith will be dissipated, and, instead of the despotic rule of mediocrity, perfect freedom will be ahead.
Regarded in the light of the history of fallen empires, the present political and economic position in Great Britain and its dependencies leaves but little doubt that the British nation has now reached that crisis in its development when it must either solve the problem of organization of labor, or pay the penalty in disruption and decay.
That this problem has not been practically solved is only too evident from all the circumstances which surround us. Nothing perhaps demonstrates this more than the many economic enigmas which seem to baffle explanation, and of which the following are the most noteworthy: the prevalence of poverty side by side with that of wealth and knowledge; the growing burdens on the working classes, in spite of the extending use of labor-saving machinery; the simultaneous complaints of two such contradictory evils as over-population and over-production; the increasing demand for wealth, and the diminishing demand for that which alone can produce wealth — labor; the difficulties thrown in the way of immigration into the United States and our colonies,— countries teeming with raw materials of wealth, neglected for want of workers; the deplorable tendency of freedom-loving nations, such as England and France, to sacrifice individual liberty for State despotism; the failure of the English government, backed by all the resources of civilization, to bring about in Egypt even a semblance of that degree of prosperity which that country enjoyed three thousand years ago; the limited trade and constant financial difficulties of India, in face of the immense resources of that empire.
The inability to solve these and many similar enigmas has convinced most of our economists that their theories respecting that great and characteristic feature of our civilization, division of labor, must be defective; for according to these theories such enigmas should not exist, or at least should be explained. Some economists... have arrived at pessimistic and dismal conclusions, whence political economy has become extremely unpopular. Others have been tempted into experiments with bimetallism, fair trade, land nationalization, and State Socialism. Amongst politicians it is State Socialism which has been mostly favored. The latest extension of the franchise has greatly furthered the spread of State Socialistic tendencies. As already hundreds of such measures have been passed, each generally demanding the passing of several others, we are now approaching a complete Socialistic system at a mathematically increasing ratio, and, thanks to the confusion which exists in the public mind regarding all economic and sociological questions, this movement is looked upon and spoken of as progress!...
Considering that the dangers of Socialism, as well as the civilizing and elevating influences of Individualism, have been recognized by economists, and that the world bristles with proofs of some serious mistake in the organization of labor, it was natural that all students of economy should do their utmost to solve the problem of division of labor on the basis of individualism,— that is, with the maintenance of individual freedom and private property.
This weighty problem has at last been solved. The true solution is the same as that of so many other economic and sociological problems,— “freedom from State interference.”
We have now the clearest proofs, confirmed by the most thorough experience, for the fact that by adopting entirely free trade in capital and credit, or, in other words, free banking (including note-issuing), we supply that important piece of mechanism in our free and individualistic division of labor which has been wanting, and without which it can work only with immense friction and with the certainty of a catastrophe sooner or later. Freedom alone can bring about that supply of capital and of mediums of exchange in exact proportion to demand which is the indispensable condition of well-organized free labor. In face of the free competition for the existing opportunities of labor open to all comers, free competition in supply of capital — that is, chances of employment — becomes not only justice to the laboring classes but the necessary condition for the economic maintenance and political protection of capital.
By free banking perfect cooperation between capital and labor would be established, and thereby all the difficulties which beset these two factors in production would disappear. With free banking, no labor need be lost or stinted from want of capital, and all the mental and material resources of the nation would easily become available for the production of wealth...
The bank reform cannot be postponed long without the gravest danger, and at present circumstances are extremely favorable to it. The whole mass of experimental State Socialism has failed to produce the hoped-for results; the working classes chafe under increasing inspection and compulsion; hampered trades find difficulties in competing with foreigners; the old division of parties is fast disappearing, and the educated classes demand more and more a return to a reasonable economic system.
But there are great difficulties in the way. The new economic theories of banking, like most scientific truths, are diametrically opposed to the popular ideas which they have to supersede...
To throw light on the subject, to remove all prejudices, in order to bring about the repeal of the Bank Act of 1844, and to introduce free trade in capital, or, in other words, freedom of banking in all parts of the empire, will be the object of The Free Trade in Capital League.
A. Egmont Hake.
Parliament Mansion, Victoria Street, Westminster, S. W., January 26, 1889.
Alexander Herzen to Michael Bakounine.
The following letter, written many years ago, is translated for Liberty by Comrade George Schumm from a German book of reminiscences by the interesting authoress of the “Memoiren einer Idealistin,” who long enjoyed the intimate friendship of the Herzen family.
It is still the very same question that occupies us. But then, history, in each of her periods, ever belongs to but one serious question, to but one force in course of evolution. All else is accidental, constituting the various diseases accompanying evolution, the sufferings through which the new and perfect organism is working its way out of the spent and too narrow forms, while retaining that portion of them that may be utilized in its higher aspirations. You think I have changed, but remember that all has changed. The bearings of the economico-social question differ from what they were twenty years ago. It has passed the religious, ideal period of its youth, as well as the period of daring enterprises and experiments on the small scale. Even the period of lamentations, of protests, and of denunciations, is approaching its end. This is a serious sign that the social question is entering upon its majority. It is apparently nearing it, but it has not yet reached it, not only on account of external obstacles and opposition, but for reasons of its own. The progressive minority has not yet attained to sufficient insight, to practicable ways, to complete formulas, concerning the economic condition of the future. The majority, which is the greatest sufferer under the present conditions, is seeking its way out of them through a portion of the city laborers, but it is held back by the spirit of routine possessing its larger half. Neither the State nor the individual can furnish knowledge and insight by a stroke of force. The slowness, the incoherency in the process of historical intelligence irritates and oppresses us, is intolerable, and therefore many precipitate matters, commit treason against their own reasonable insight, and lead others to precipitate matters. Is this good? The entire question lies here.
Ours is an age of definite investigation, which must precede the labor of realization, as the theory of steam preceded the railroad. Formerly everything was to be done by courage and zeal, and we relied on chance. We wish no longer to rely on chance. We see clearly that things cannot remain as they are. The end of the exclusive reign of private capital and of unlimited property rights has come, as heretofore the end of feudalism and aristocracy.
But the manner in which the problem is generally put indicates neither the way nor the means for its solution, yea, it does not even determine a certain mean for it. The solution cannot be reached through force. Even if the bourgeois world had been exploded by powder, it would presently reappear upon the disappearance of the smoke and the clearing away of the debris, somewhat modified, but still bourgeois. And this for the reason that this world has not yet reached its end; that neither the new organization nor those who must build it are as yet sufficiently prepared to realize it. None of the foundations upon which the present order of things rests, and which would have to be demolished and newly constructed, is so far shaken that it would suffice to demolish it by force and banish it from life. State, Church, the army, are already just as logically denied as theology, metaphysics, etc. But they are thus condemned preliminarily only in a certain scientific sphere. Outside of academic walls they still control all moral forces. Ask every honest man whether he is prepared; whether he has as clear a conception of the new order that we are aspiring to as of the general idea of collective property and solidarity; whether, outside of mere destruction, he knows the means for the transformation of the old organism. And supposing him to be able to affirm this as regards himself, can he also affirm it for the class which by its position must initiate the deed?
Science is irresistible, but it does not operate with force. The liberation from prejudice proceeds slowly, having its phases and crises. Force and terror may establish a religion, a political form, organize an autocratic government, introduce a united and indivisible republic; but in the social order force can only destroy, it can only clear the way, nothing more. Through force in the fashion of Peter the Great the social revolution cannot get beyond the compulsory equality of a Gracchus Baboeuf or the communism of a Cabet. The new forms must comprise all the old elements of human aspirations. We cannot again make of our world either a Sparta or a Benedictus monastery. The future revolution must combine all the elements of social life, for the general good, as Fourier dreamed, but not suppress a part for the benefit of the other. The economic revolution has an immense advantage over all religious and political revolutions through the solidity of its foundations. Now only its ways and means of proceeding must be just as sound.
Nothing is to be gained but immense confusion by a simple list of things that are to be negatived, and which may be distributed like a command among the social army.
Dogmas and articles of faith, however absurd, cannot be fought by mere negation, however intelligent. To say: Believe not, is just as absurd and authoritarian as to say: Believe. The strength of the old order of things consists not so much in the material force that upholds it as in the fact that the majority accept and recognize it. This is seen conspicuously in those instances where it is under no necessity to employ penalties and compulsion, where it rests on the fettered conscience, on the absence of all intellectual development, on the immaturity of the new thought, as in England and Switzerland.
No one is responsible for the absurd incongruities of the existing social condition. Any punishment would be as unreasonable as the scourging of the ocean by the Persian king. To accuse, to pronounce judgment, to punish,— all this is unworthy of our mental development. We must consider facts more simply, more physiologically. We must vacate the criminalistic standpoint which has unfortunately come to predominate, and which has confused the understanding by confounding personal passions with the general cause and construing fortuitous events into premeditated conspiracies. It is just as absurd to place the responsibility for the past and the present on the last representatives of the truth of yesterday, which has become the untruth of today, as it was absurd and unjust to decapitate the French marquises because they were not Jacobins. Revolutions have heretofore organized in the dark, deviated from the true path, gone backwards, gone wrong, because they had no clear aim. They required many things, all kinds of faith, of heroism, of sublime virtues, of patriotism and pietism. The social revolution requires nothing but insight, strength, knowledge, and means. But insight is the strongest of obligations. It has continually to endure the repentance of intelligence and the relentless reproaches of logic.
As long as the social idea was indefinite, its promulgators, themselves filled with faith and fanaticism, addressed themselves as largely to the imagination and the passions as to the intelligence. They threatened the possessing classes with punishment and destruction, libelled them, made a crime of their wealth, and endeavored to persuade them into voluntary poverty by continually holding up to them the terrible picture of their own sufferings (a strange captatio benevolentiae). Socialism has gotten beyond these means. What we ought to prove to the possessing classes is this: not that their possession is a sin, immoral and criminal, but that the proletaire is now growing conscious of the fact that the bulwarks hitherto protecting property against destruction are crumbling together, and that consequently the maintenance of the latter in the customary manner has become impossible. We ought to show them that the struggle against the impossible is a useless waste of energy, and that it will lead to deeper woe and severer losses the longer and the more stubbornly it is continued. We must destroy the security of possession and capital by an example in double entry book-keeping, by an exact balancing of credit and debit. The most tenacious miser, given the possibility of saving himself and a portion of his wealth by sacrificing the other portion, will gladly avail himself of it in preference to the utter destruction of himself and all his wealth. But it is necessary to this end that he see clearly the danger and the possibility of saving himself. The new order of things must present itself to him not only as an avenging sword, but also as a protecting shield. The new order, mightily striking down the old world, must not only save all that is worthy of being saved, but it must also extend liberty to everything that does not hinder its own development, that, if heterogeneous, is original. Woe to the revolution which, poor in artistic faculty and taste, would make of the past and all its achievements a tedious workshop, with the sole advantage of affording a livelihood and only a livelihood. But that will not be. Mankind has always, even in the worst times, shown that it possesses potentially greater capacities and greater needs than are necessary to the acquisition of a mere livelihood; these cannot be suppressed. Mankind has treasures with which it will never part and which cannot be taken from it except by despotic force and in the hour of excitement, of a cataclysm. Who can say, without revolting injustice, that there is not infinitely much of the beautiful as well in the past as in the present? And should all this go down with the old craft?
The kind of men our governors are may be judged from this sample of logic from ex-Governor Gaston, who appeared before the legislative committee on behalf of the regular doctors who want a law regulating the practice of medicine. That a man capable of framing such an argument should have been deemed fit to be a governor, and have been elected to that position by a majority of voters, is as strong an argument as can be presented against the ballot.
The ex-governor was answering the speech of Stearns, who opposed the bill on principles of liberty:
Every man has a right to drink intoxicating liquor, but that right is limited by law; and when a man drinks enough to make him intoxicated, then the law interferes with his freedom, and punishes him for it as an offence. It does this on two grounds,— on the ground that he injures the public and on the ground that he injures himself. A man who gets drunk in his own house, and does not interfere with anybody, can be punished. He is punished because he has abused the liberty which the law gives him.
This is a fine sample of the ignorance and trickery and jugglery with language of lawyers, governors, judges, and other tools of despotic tyranny. This ex-governor is a fit representative of those third-rate doctors who clamor for a law “to protect the people against charlatans.” In truth, their bill should be called a bill for the protection of charlatans; in other words, they want a monopoly on medical charlatanism, and so they send an ex-governor to the dispensary of privileges to obtain a monopoly. Their diplomas, degrees, and marks of merit not proving sufficient, they want protection to natural inferiority.
It would he interesting to know how our ex-governor arrived at the knowledge that a man has a “right” to drink intoxicating liquor. Wonder what he means by “right”? It can’t be a “natural right,” inalienable, imperishable, indestructible, otherwise the governor could not justify punishing a man for exercising that right. If one could expect correct reasoning from a governor, it would be interesting to know where the governor gets the “right” to punish a man “because he has abused the liberty which the law gives him.” It seems there are three grounds on which a man can be punished “when he drinks enough to make him intoxicated.” (This is rather vague, but they are the governor’s words. Whether it means that when he has drank enough he “ought” to be drunk, and in the eyes of the law is drunk, or whether it means that he is to be punished for having “drank enough,” is left for the court to determine.) First, he can be punished for injuring the public. If he can show that he has not injured the public, then he can be punished for injuring himself. If he has not injured himself either, then he can be punished for injuring the law.
In the eyes of the law it is presumed, I suppose, that a man punished by law is not injured, but benefited; otherwise, how can our ex-governor justify his statement that a man has no right to injure the public, or injure himself? Probably when the ex-governor was a-governing he thought himself divine, and so above the ordinary rules governing his subjects. This title of governor has been handed down in a direct line from the old days when men and things were called by their right names. The divine George sent a governor here to rule his subjects. He claimed he had a sovereign and divine right to rule, and he delegated his authority to a governor. This ex-governor Gaston evidently conceives he was partly divine when he was governor and perhaps yet retaining some divinity. His reasoning is truly legal and supernatural, as will be seen. Mr. Stearns had claimed for every man a natural right to seek his own doctor; to which the governor replied:
That proposition does not stop there. If every man were allowed to seek his own doctor, then every man must be permitted to practise, because he cannot make his selection if the number of doctors is restricted. Therefore, every man must be permitted to practise, and my brother Stearns will have his desire,— every man having liberty to seek his own physician. That is precisely what we object to. We say that any man who seeks a physician who does not know enough to treat him, or who is fraudulent enough to deceive him, is doing himself wrong, and the laws of the commonwealth should interpose a protection against a man’s doing such a wrong to himself. [Italics are mine.]
If the framer of that argument does not consider himself possessed of the divine right to govern, what does he mean by “we object,” “we say,” “any man” — not divine?
“That proposition does not stop there” — probably the governor and his clients do not intend that it shall. They are homoeopathic and eclectic tyrants, and are diluting their drugs in small doses. We shall have full allopathic doses of regular stuff when we are prepared. Before submitting us to a full treatment one or two more legal precedents are considered advisable, and then we shall have some heroic measures. If a man has not enough intelligence to choose a doctor when he is sick, it can easily be proved that he has not intelligence enough to know when he is sick. “A man has no right to injure himself,” and thousands of people are in the incipient stages of deadly disease now who are not intelligent enough to know it, or, if intelligent enough, too obstinate to employ a doctor. The American constitution grants all men the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and according to Gaston a man can be punished for abusing the liberty which the law gives him. If a man attempts suicide, he is punished. No man can read a medical journal containing “cases” and conscientiously say he is a healthy man. Do not the doctors continually warn the public that it is dangerous to delay, that many a man has gone to his grave from neglecting premonitory symptoms, and that a few simple remedies could have saved many a valuable life. But the non-professional man is a fool, and should not be allowed to drift into the grave. “This is precisely what we object to.” “A man has no right to injure himself”: on this principle the law prohibits drinking whiskey — when he has “drank enough.” The law punishes a man for keeping an opium smoking saloon, because it injures others. It forces him into a hospital, if he has yellow fever. It forbids his drinking and shaving in public places on Sunday because he injures his soul; it would prohibit private practice of these acts if it could. In many cases it makes vaccination compulsory and is trying to do so in all cases. It makes education compulsory, and forces citizens to do numberless things. A few more prohibitory precedents are needed, and then Governor Gaston will not stop at prohibiting irregulars, but will go right on, until the American citizen shall pursue life, liberty, and happiness at the point of the bayonet or the doctor’s lance.
A. H. Simpson.
Communism and Communist-Anarchism.
J. Wm. Lloyd, in Liberty of November 10, 1888, discussing the question whether love is Communistic or Individualistic, makes some remarks on the basis of Communism generally, in connection with which I now venture the following commentary.
So far as the article in question goes, Lloyd has proved that he is a Communist-Anarchist in all but name and knowledge of the fact. He is, indeed, exactly at the position where I arrived about a year previously.
It is historically true that the original Communism sought to establish the results of fraternity by either authoritative or mental coercion; but the influence of Nihilist thought and propaganda has long almost obliterated this original sect, and the Communist party, so named, now comprises practically two bodies only,— the Voluntary Communists, many of whom are also Egoist Anarchists, with whom the word Communism means a certain method of organization of social life between such individuals as associate together for that purpose, and recommended as the most convenient to many individuals; this system being that each produce in the measure of his capacity and enjoy the produce in proportion to his needs; and the Communist-Anarchists, who do not, as such, hold that any special mode of social organization is to be specifically recommended, although a good many of them may happen to be Communists in the last mentioned sense also; and with whom the term Communism has a far different and more radical signification.
This signification is the principle that every one in the world has an equal liberty to the enjoyment of any or every thing in the world, whether so-called raw-material or produce. (This by no means implies a compulsory or voluntary sharing between a greater number of precisely what might have been enjoyed by a smaller number; it does not even contemplate it; although of course it does not prohibit it either.) This liberty is expressed concisely in a constructive form by the motto “To each according to his needs,” which ought not to be so repugnant to the “Individualist,” since it is precisely equal to the general Anarchist formula, “Each as he pleases.”
It is perfectly obvious that, if two needs really clash, and there be no third need operating at the time with the parties, the latter must solve the question by force or leave it unsolved. At the same time the connection of human relationships is so complex that it is unlikely even in this case that a third need will not arise outside of the parties, and that even if it does not create the determining need in one of the parties, a third party will not need to interfere on his own account, the position of his needs standing to be affected by the bearings of the possible outcome of the dispute.
Of course, also, the same can be predicated of “pleasing.” The objection of the Anarchists is perfectly just, only there is a flaw in its mode of application. It is quite true that, if I please one way and you the opposite, one of us cannot do, or be, as he pleases. The Anarchist reply is absolutely true, but equally absolutely inconsequential: if each does, or is, as he pleases, none suffer the negation of their pleasure. The problem is how to secure that it shall be possible for each literally to do and be as he pleases.
And here the question of “needs” comes in. People do not please arbitrarily; what I please is strictly expressible as what it does please me to attempt because I believe that it will please me to succeed therein,— that is, I have a need which I wish to satisfy, or to try to satisfy. The primary “needing” is therefore at the bottom of the “pleasing.”
Now, whether from instinctive sympathy or from conscious desire to make the world run as smoothly as possible for one’s own ulterior advantage, including or excluding said sympathy, the most rational thing to do is to ascertain whether the needs really do clash or only appear to do so. If it is possible to so adjust matters that the real need in both cases can be satisfied, that is a distinct advance in human happiness and progress. This is the social or constructive principle of Communist Anarchism.
One example will suffice. Jane is hanging clothes out to dry, but, not having any clothes pegs, she is fixing them on the line with hair pins. Mary wishes to do up her hair, but has no hair pins; she is aware however that there are some in the possession of Jane. Specifically it seems that two needs clash, but they may not, for what Jane needs is something to fix the clothes with, not necessarily hair pins, and it is possible that, if, when she says she is using them, she explains further, Mary may be able to produce or exhibit some clothes pegs which, if not available for use as hair pins, will serve Jane’s purpose nevertheless and set the hair pins free. This is the true social economy.
To satisfy a slight need at the expense of a great one, or to use means by which the satisfaction of one need absolutely defeats the satisfaction of another, where it is not essential in the nature of things that one must be satisfied at the expense of the other, is of course to violate this constructive principle. The man who lights his pipe with my MS., when he could either get a piece of waste stuff for the purpose or abstain for a little while without serious consequences, or who, even if serious consequences threaten by the lack of brain stimulus at an important moment, encroaches on the written matter when he could tear a slip off the margin, and the author who would, under ordinary circumstances to himself, withhold his MS. if its consumption, even involving destruction, were really necessary to save a fellow being from intense suffering or death, are equally guilty of a breach of natural economics. So, also, is the man who, having necessarily interfered with the satisfaction of another’s needs, “unnecessarily” neglects or declines to make such reparative satisfaction as may be agreeable.
The Communist-Anarchists repudiate as the constructive principle the motto “To each according to his works,” because it is not necessarily coincident with the principle of liberty, or rather can only be interpreted into coinciding by an unnatural straining of language, whilst as ordinarily understood by its advocates it gives the producer of an article an absolute monopoly of that article, which amounts to a sovereignty over all who may need the use of that article, absolutely incompatible with the principle “Each as he pleases,” because it constitutes the rebellion against that sovereignty a criminal offence. A person produces either because he needs to consume at some time what he will have produced, or because he needs to enjoy it without consuming it, or because he needs to enjoy the act of producing it. In any case the completion of this purpose is the natural reward of the producer, and if any other person can get any benefit from the thing without interfering with that reward, there is no reason why he should not do so, and quite freely. The producer of course has the same right to further beneficial use. The natural advantage of the producer is that he has usually a preferential claim upon the use of his produce if he chooses to exercise it, because he needs in that case not only such use in itself, but the complementation of his need or purpose in producing; so that, ceteris paribus, it would be non-economic to sacrifice the satisfaction of these two needs to that of any one need.
If the producer of an article has got all the benefit which he can for the time being get out of it, but needs the services of another man who needs what independent benefit he can derive from the article, then if this second man can render his services without denying himself the satisfaction of his needs, well and good; but there is no “exchange,” because the producer has not parted with anything. And if the producer refuses to allow the second man to satisfy his need except on condition of also satisfying the producer’s need, he is simply a blackmailer.
Communist Anarchism does not regard the State as the cause of evil, but as an evil. Its revolutionary aspect is howled at by some, but the revolution is simply throwing off the yokes instead of waiting for them to rot off. Had B. R. Tucker been able to send the tax-gatherer, whose exploits he related in Liberty, away unpaid, for good, whether with or without a tussle, it would have been a successful revolutionary act, and if the mass of the people, refraining from exploitation themselves, could have in like manner repudiated the claims of exploitation, and established themselves not only against new demands, but in freedom of access to what had been monopolized already, it would have been the Revolution. At the same time revolutionism is not essential to Communist Anarchism, and depends for its acceptation among either Communist-Anarchists or others upon the belief that a stage will come when those having the knowledge and the desire to be free will be strong enough to maintain their freedom against the monopolists who will still desire and endeavor to retain their privileges, and that this stage will have a powerful effect upon the development process of society.
Communist Anarchism is pure scientific and unadulterated Egoism, pure personal Individualism, and in short pure Anarchism. It bears its distinctive prefix for historical reasons; as a matter of fact the term is a mistranslation of Communiste-Anarchiste, Communisme-Anarchists, Anarchist Communist, Anarchist Communism, applied to those Communists in France who first embraced the doctrines of Nihilism; but the prefix now stands in opposition to “Individualist” used in the sense of “Individualist Proprietist.” This is the common acceptation of Individualism in Australia and England, and it is on this account that the Communist Anarchists avow hatred to “Individualism” in those countries, whilst in others, where the Proprietist sect does not exist among Anarchists, they claim — as they are in the true scientific sense of the word — Individualists, in contradistinction to the Collectivist sects.
I trust that this explanation of the facts about Communist Anarchism may let the light into a good many dark places and do away with much unnecessary cavilling and misunderstanding.
J. A. Andrews.
18 Ophir St., Richmond, Victoria, Australia.
The Mistake of Governmentalists.
Communists and Socialists imagine that if they could only get hold of the machinery of the State, they could suppress poverty, annihilate misery, and reward merit. Their error consists in ignorance of the infinitesimal power of government to suppress the individual wills of the citizens, and the nullity of any authority that runs counter to the opinion around it. It is more and more true that political conditions ultimately spring from anterior intellectual convictions, and the attempt to raise the former without a base of the latter becomes more and more preposterous... The despotic and the Communistic theory of society spring from exactly the same sophism,— that of attributing to government a function which in modern societies it is utterly powerless to fulfil.
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.