“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.
I am in a position to assure the readers of Liberty that the extraordinary offer of the “Transatlantic” to give away six two-dollar books every week, advertised on the eighth page, is a genuine one, and will be carried out in good faith according to the plan stated.
Chief Justice Fuller repeats, without due credit, Grover Cleveland’s aphorism that, while it is the duty of the citizen to support the government, it is not the duty of the government to support the citizen. Have they not heard of the statement that this government is based on the free consent of the people? But if so, it can be no “duty” of the sovereign citizen to support his agent and servant, but only his interest. The fact that “duty” is appealed to indicates that the servants feel themselves to be of no sort of use to the masters.
Upon the motto of the Boston “Arena” selected from Heine, “that we do not take possession of our ideas, but are possessed by them; they master us and force us into the arena, where like gladiators we must fight for them” the “Open Court” rationally remarks: “The battle we allow; but our ideas are we ourselves; we are bundles of ideas, and theirs is the conflict in the arena; to speak of their possessing and forcing us contains a tinge of dualism.” It also involves the heresy of duty, and is anti-Egoistic. We fight because therein is our life and health.
The “Australian Radical” (which, by the way, has steadily improved since it was last referred to in Liberty, and now is second to none of the best Anarchist organs) reprints Liberty’s paragraph on personal polemics, obviously not without a keen appreciation of its truth. By this time it has, I fear, learned with sorrow that, in Mr. Lloyd’s opinion, it is a century behind the time and almost a literary savage. But possibly it may have discovered that Mr. Lloyd is apt to be very “subjective” in his opinions, and that his ideas need not necessarily be in harmony with external facts.
Mr. Lloyd’s complaint that I brought forward century-old quotations in support of a system of polemics at least a century behind the best spirit of the age, it seems to me, goes to prove the charge made against him by Mr. Yarros,— namely, that he is “supremely independent of facts, evolving his ideas of others’ sayings and doings out of his own inner consciousness.” Where, indeed, does Mr. Lloyd get the notion that the system of polemics approved by Liberty is a century behind the “best spirit” of the age? If Proudhon, Bastiat, Borne, Tchernychewsky, Carlyle, Ruskin, Swinburne, Huxley, Harrison, Spooner, W. D. O’Connor, are not among the civilized writers and best representatives of the age, will Mr. Lloyd kindly point out who are their superiors? The system of polemics which I defended is the system of the majority of virile and capable minds.
Rev. Edward Everett Hale proclaimed at a Nationalist meeting that, in face of the dilettanti who affirm that the best government is that which governs least, and of the Anarchists who seek to abolish all government, he and his brethren call upon all who believe and pray for the kingdom of God to rally and support and strengthen the hands of good government. Passing in silent contempt the reference to the highest sociological writers and philosophers of the century — Mill, Humboldt, Emerson, Spencer, Buckle — as “dilettanti” one may agree with this Bismarckian minister, after paraphrasing the last clause of his sentence: the Nationalists call upon those who are silly enough to believe in the “kingdom of God” humbug to put their faith also in the political superstition of “good government.” And they are certainly wise in avoiding those rational people who decline to pay the Hales for making them naturalized citizens of a kingdom whose existence they cannot prove.
Robert Buchanan dismisses Ibsen’s literary, dramatic, and philosophic claims with hasty and scornful contempt. In his opinion, Ibsen is a bore, a dullard, and a dotard. Well, Mr. Buchanan has a right to hold this opinion. But, as Talleyrand said, though I do not expect him or ask him to agree with me, I at least may ask him to agree with himself. In the same review article he frowns upon superficial and incompetent criticism of productions requiring a disciplined mind, great knowledge, and exceptional intellectual endowments. He will have every author judged by his peers, not by a lot of mediocre, irresponsible, half-educated, self-styled reviewers. But in obedience to his own principle, he must yield up the privilege of criticising Ibsen, the philosopher, the champion of a great principle, to those who make a specialty of the study of social science and philosophy, limiting his criticisms to the literary and dramatic standpoints. Either Mr. Buchanan must eat his anathemas and be content with modern style of criticism, or else he must start his reform at home and acknowledge that his intemperate, summary, and authoritative manner of pronouncing upon Ibsen’s philosophical ideas is no more deserving of serious attention than any of the verdicts of the class of reviewers he makes the victims of his wrath.
The Philadelphia “Justice” a single-tax paper, prints without comment the following utterance of Proudhon: “To whom belongs the rent of land? To the producer of land without doubt. Who made the land? God. Then, proprietor, begone!” It strikes me that the single-tax theologians are other than wise in trying to lean on Proudhon. Their fundamental proposition is that the community creates the rental value of land, and they want the community to collect its own product and enjoy it. Proudhon, on the other hand, says that to God belongs the rent of land; and hence, according to single-taxers’ logic, the rent should be paid directly into God’s treasury. But, though the prophet professes to know all about God’s intentions and wishes in this matter, and to act as the trustee of that monopolist, he does not perform any miracle to prove his connection with divinity. Pious people, if reasonable, will decline to espouse the single-tax and demand some unmistakable evidence of its endorsement by God. Let the prophet perform a great miraculous act,— convince a well-informed man of the truth or originality of his ideas, or a keen observer of his honesty. But I am reminded that pious people never have been reasonable, and always blindly followed deluded or crafty pretenders who called themselves prophets.
“Do not be deceived,” the “Open Court” warns its readers, “by the false prophets who preach in high-sounding terms.... They tell you that liberty enlightens the world. Do not be deceived, for it is just the reverse. Liberty does not bring enlightenment, but enlightenment brings liberty; and there is no liberty which is not based on enlightenment, on education, on culture, on morality, on wisdom, on good-will.” To use the strong language applied by “Waterman’s Journal” to another journal, “the startling depth of ignorance displayed in this [affirmation] turns one giddy as he gazes into the bottomless abyss of confusion that yawns before him.” So loosely and vaguely to dogmatize on a subject so important is simply inexcusable in a journal pretending to be scientific and precise. In what sense does the writer use the term, liberty? Does he not see the necessity of clearly defining his terms? If he had stopped to reflect, he would probably have understood that the illiterate and wretched Russian peasants, for instance, must have political and economic freedom before they can hope to begin to taste of the luxurious joys of culture and wisdom. If poor and ignorant slaves can only achieve liberty after making themselves possessors of all those fine and high qualities and properties, then they will either never be ready for liberty, or else, if they can be conceived as enjoying them under slavery, there can be no earthly use for it. The only argument for liberty has been that culture, morality, wisdom, etc., are utterly impossible in its absence. If the “Open Court” rejects this view, it can have no use for liberty. But I do not intend to argue against a loose, indefinite, and meaningless statement. I only wish to protest against the way in which a scientific journal treats sociological problems. It is time to abolish the habit and privilege of dealing cavalierly with social science.
The chief bulwark of the opponents of free banking is the quantity theory of money,— the doctrine that an addition to the volume of the currency necessarily depreciates its value. Because of the persistence of this error, it is pleasant to note that “D” of the London “National Reformer,” who is a thorough-paced individualist but underrates the importance of free money, has lately assailed the orthodox view in the following language: “In more than one branch of economic thought, the theory accepted at present is based on reasoning which will not bear examination. I venture to say that the ordinary theory of money — the quantitative theory, as it is usually called — will be found to be delusive much in the same way as was the wage-fund theory. The fundamental misconception is in treating a proposition of mere co-existence or quantity as an adequate explanation of causation. Economics is the etiology of wealth; and the notion that a theory of price can be built up on such a statement as that, if credit be ignored, the reduplicated use of money be allowed for, hoarding be supposed nonexistent, barter be treated as a thing of the past, the use of money (or its material) for other purposes than purchase be passed over, and the quantity of commodities to be sold be regarded as constant, then the value of money (or general prices) will be inversely as its quantity,— the notion that such a proposition as this, from which all other than purely arithmetical elements have been carefully eliminated, is an explanation of the level of prices, certainly shows how easily the logical requirements of some scientific men are satisfied. I am glad to see that so sober an economist as Mr. Giffen is beginning to have some inkling of the unsoundness of the quantity theory of price.”
The Rag-Picker of Paris.
By Felix Pyat.
Translated from the French by Benj. R. Tucker.
Continued from No. 153.
The baron entered, with a beaming face. He held in his hand a copy of the “Official” Embracing his daughter, and forcing his voice to a caressing tone because of the presence of the maids, though he did so with some difficulty, he said to her:
“So, then, this is the day, dear rebel. How obstinate the female mind! Surrendered, at last!”
He kissed her again.
“Admirable costume,” he added.
“Sparkling stone, flaming robe .... let us complete the dazzling spectacle.” He opened his journal and said:
“Claire, listen to this! ‘Society Gossip: This evening, by privilege, at midnight, will be celebrated at the chapel of the Roman Embassy, by Monseigneur the Archbishop of Paris, the marriage of Mile. Claire Hoffmann, daughter of Baron Hoffmann, banker to the Papal Court.’ What do you say to that? what a festival! It is complete! Hurry your maids, and be ready; in an hour friends will be here. I will return.”
Claire, before her mirror, wearing her dress, crown, and bouquet of marriage, of martyrdom, had listened without nearing.
When her father, having finished his reading, started to go out, she cried anxiously:
“Where are you going. Do not leave me. I don’t know why, but I tremble.” She rose and ran toward him.
The baron retraced his steps, and, in a low voice and a tone which he intended to be gay, he exclaimed:
“Bah! the emotion of the day, dear sensitive creature! Courage! One last stroke of the oar and ... in an hour we shall be in port. I have burned your letter, I have the girl’s confession, and, to complete the luck, I have her father’s pocket-book, a fatal proof against her old knight.”
“Ah! my God!” exclaimed Claire, “another victim.”
“The last,” said the banker.
“When will end this defiance of justice? An accomplice in a new crime! I will not, I cannot. You put too much upon me.... I succumb.”
“They or we!” declared the baron, implacable in his logic. “It is necessary. Be firm! Audacity to the end. And this time it is the end.”
“It is hell!”
“It is the salvation of all, believe your father and friend. I swear to you that I will save them after ourselves. Have I not succeeded in everything? No more risks, no more frights. I am going to make sure of the departure of the midwife. Calm yourself.... Make haste.... I will return.”
And with these words he went out by a side door opening into his private apartments.
Claire remained alone with her maids, nailed to the spot where her father had left her, lost in a mortal presentiment.
“It is salvation,” she resumed in a very low voice. “But at what price? Great God! To hide a fault under a crime and pile victims on victims ... and myself the last one ... after the others, I decked today for the altar ... the last sacrifice. Ah! I dare not look myself in the face, I am afraid ... and these mirrors reflect me everywhere.”
She took a few steps, trying to flee from her own image.
“Rosine, my veil!” said she to one of the servants. “Quick! Folded and pulled down.”
“Yes, Mademoiselle,” answered Rosine, running to find the veil.
Claire walked up and down in agitation and impatience.
“It seems to me,” she murmured, “that my secret is written in letters of blood upon my brow, and that it will be less easily seen under these folds”....
Rosine and her companion came to put on the veil.
“Cover me more, I say.”
Then suddenly, as if bewildered:
“Is there not a spot on this veil?”
“A spot!” exclaimed Rosine, astonished.
“Yes, a red point there.”
“No, Mademoiselle; it is the reflection of the curtains.”
“Ah! yes, you are right ... leave me!”
The attendants obeyed and withdrew.
“I shall betray myself,” cried Claire, “my head, my heart, are bursting this fatal secret will out in spite of me. It is escaping by force like those poisons that break the glass that contains them.... I see it; I hear it cry, ask for a cradle, a grave, change this veil into a shroud, this crown into a pillory.”
“Visions! Chimeras! ... to be forgotten like the others. No more anguish! I must share my father’s ferocious delight in struggle, the atrocious intoxication of success. Come! audacity to the end! This secret is under ground. No one knows it ... can know it. Crime is for the poor! we are rich... The Didiers for the Hoffmanns! I am the worthy daughter of my father. We are hunters by race. Let us howl with the wolves! A curse upon the weak! Salvation is for the strong!”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
In one of the adjoining rooms were exposed to the gaze of a crowd of guests invited to these wedding festivities the numerous bridal presents which the wealthy and vain friends and customers of the banker-baron had made to his daughter.
Water goes always to the river.
It was a dazzling spectacle of luxury and art. One would have said that it was a collection of master-pieces of the goldsmith’s art at an international exposition.
Necklaces, bracelets, brooches, and rings, ornaments of all styles and all prices in caskets that were jewels themselves,— all that the great jewelers of the day, the Meurices and the Odiota, all that the rarest stones, cut, set, and mounted in the finest metals, could offer in the way of perfection, with the names of the most illustrious and most august givers.
The Pope had sent the golden rose,— an exceptional honor reserved for queens,— and his blessing, more precious still.
The Nuncio had sent a silver cross studded with diamonds.
And the Abbé Ventron, the dear confessor, a brilliant red ruby, representing the heart of Jesus.
The ex-king of the French had forwarded from London an India cashmere; and the ex-queen what is called a household article,— a tea service.
The English ambassador, a practical man, had presented a silver gilt chamber-vessel.
All the nobility and wealth of Paris were represented there by the entire scale of precious stones,— yellow, blue, green, emeralds, turquoises, topazes, etc.
Then came the gifts of Camille’s friends.
Louchard, among others, had contented himself with presenting his wife.... a pearl of friendship, he said.
Loiseau had offered the bouquet of orange-flowers.
As for Gripon, his gift shone by its absence.
There was everything besides, as is the case with those who can want for nothing, from toilet articles to kitchen utensils,— and the smallest lot among them would have been a dowry for a Didier,— each object being surveyed, handled, criticised, and estimated according to the taste of the amateurs....
The last pin had been put in the bride’s veil.
Then Laurent entered the boudoir and said respectfully:
“They are waiting for Mademoiselle in the grand salon.”
Claire turned round, and surfeited though she was with the palatial luxury of the paternal dwelling, she felt a dizziness of pride, and staggered again under the spell.
The portière at the back, drawn aside by Laurent, allowed a view of the apartments infinitely multiplied by the reflection of skilfully placed mirrors. Women in full dress and lackeys in livery were streaming with gold, flowers, feathers, and jewels under the chandeliers; here and there the men, sober and stiff in their official dress-coats, offered a contrast of black in this glittering crowd.... Claire advanced bravely into the grand salon toward the guests, like the goddess of this fashionable Olympus, the millionaire Venus of All-Paris, and received resolutely all the homage that a great lady can desire, the admiration of men and the envy of women.
Everybody smiled and flattered, bowing like a veritable subject ... But suddenly there was a movement of recoil and fright
Rosine came running in, pale, out of breath, and voiceless, approached Claire hastily, and whispered in her ear a word that made her tremble from head to foot Suddenly through an open door entered without ceremony the police commissary, with his tri-colored scarf about him and escorted by his agent. Behind them came Father Jean, with his basket on his back and his hook in his hand, carrying his head high; then Madame Potard, with lowered head, and some police officers concealing two other persons,— Camille and Marie.
“Let no one go out, or speak to the master if he comes in,” ordered the commissary.
And making a sign to the agent who followed him, he said:
And the agent went out to watch.
A thunderbolt falling into this salon would have produced less effect; a ray of joy shone upon the forehead of more than one woman, and even of more than one man, these sycophants tasting, in the fall of the idol, revenge for their own debasement.
The commissary advanced until face to face with Claire, who stood motionless and overwhelmed.
“Mademoiselle,” said he to her, “a painful duty brings me here to effect a confrontation required by justice.”
Claire drew back in terror.
“What does this mean, Monsieur?”
Jean, who had advanced, followed by the others, answered her.
“It means that we are invited to your wedding in the name of the law!”
“You did not expect us, I see,” continued the terrible Jean, folding his arms in front of her. “Justice is so slow,” he sneered, shaking his gray head. “You were going ahead without us ... all ready ... bouquet, crown, and veil. You lacked nothing, God forgive me, but the right to carry them”....
And, turning to the magistrate, he cried, overwhelming the guilty one with a gesture:
“Yes, Monsieur Commissary, this lady who wears a virgin’s bouquet has had a child. This lady who wears this nuptial crown had her child killed by this midwife”....
He designated Madame Potard, downcast but affirmative, and then his gesture came back, more threatening than ever, to Claire, bewildered by this inexorable and public execution.
“This lady,” screamed Jean, in the paroxysm of his justice, “this lady who wears this white veil of innocence, the Baroness Claire Hoffmann, has suffered this poor and virtuous girl, Marie Didier, to be accused of all these crimes.”
Carried away by his own words, with flaming look and fulminating gesture, he thrust his hook into Claire’s veil, twirled it in the air a moment, and threw it into his basket, crying with a terrifying laugh:
“Ah! ah! ah! A rag like the rest! Into the basket! Into the basket!” Claire, crushed with shame, hid her face in her hands.
“Lost!” she groaned feebly.
But Jean, as terrible as the justice of the people, continued:
“Before God and before men you have no right to wear this veil. It will serve as a swaddling-band, or rather as a winding-sheet for your child ... dead .... like your honor.”
The rag-picker seemed Olympian, his gesture dominated the gathering, his! grandeur filled the room. His lilted hook was the thunder-bolt, his basket seemed the gulf. He was no longer Father Jean; he was Jupiter Tonans, risen from the clouds of poverty to hurl gilded crime into the abyss.
“Pardon, pardon,” begged Claire.
Marie, unable longer to contain herself, stepped between the guilty woman and her judge.
“Oh! Father Jean,” said she, with a prayerful tone that came straight from the heart, “you so good!”
“Yes, there you go,” said the rag-picker, confounded. “Defend her ... queer girl that you are. She or you!”
Claire, more and more bewildered and bending so low that she seemed to wish to disappear in the depths of the earth, stammered in mortal terror.
“Whither to fly? Where to hide myself? In the grave.... Death rather than this punishment! .... I can no longer contain the remorse that is killing me.... Suppose it should become eternal! Ah! I must confess and expiate.
The commissary seized this opportunity for a confession which he had sought by a stroke of theatrical justice.
To be continued.
The Woes of an Anarchist.
That barrel-organ outside my window goes near to driving me mad (I mean madder than I was before). What am I to do? I cannot ask the State, as embodied in the person of a blue-coated gentleman at the corner, to move him on; because I have given notice that I intend to move on the said blue-coated gentleman himself. In other words, I have given the State notice to quit. Ask the organ-grinder politely to carry his melody elsewhere? I have tried that, but he only executes a double-shuffle and puts out his tongue. Ought I to rush out and punch his head? But, firstly, that might be looked upon as an invasion of his personal liberty; and, secondly, he might punch mine; and the last state of this man would be worse than the first. Ought I to move out of the way myself? But I cannot conveniently take my house with me, or even my library. I tried another plan. I took out my cornet, and, standing by his side, executed a series of movements that would have moved the bowels of Cerberus. The only effect produced was a polite note from a neighbor (whom I respect) begging me to postpone my solo, as it interfered with the pleasing harmonies of the organ. Now Fate forbid that I should curtail the happiness of an esteemed fellow-streetsman. What then was I to do? I put on my hat and sallied forth into the streets with a heavy heart full of the difficulties of my individualist creed. The first person I met was a tramp who accosted me and exposed a tongue white with cancer,— whether real or artificial I do not know. It nearly made me sick, and I really do not think that persons ought to go about exposing disgusting objects with a view to gain. I did not hand him the expected penny, but I briefly — very briefly — expressed a hope that an infinite being would be pleased to consign him to infinite torture, and passed on. I wandered through street after street, all full of houses painted in different shades of custard-color, toned with London fog, and all just sufficiently like one another to make one wish that they were either quite alike or very different. And I wondered whether something might not be done to compel all the owners to paint at the same time and with the same tints. At last I reached a place where the road was rendered impassable by a crowd which had gathered to listen to an orator who was shouting from an inverted tub. He was explaining that many years ago Jesus died to save sinners like us, and therefore the best thing we could do was to deprive the publicans of their licenses without compensation. I ventured to remark that, although this might be perfectly true, still I wanted to get into the country along the common highway, and that the crowd he had collected prevented me from doing so. He replied that he knew my sort, whatever that may mean; but his words seem to have acted like magic on his hearers, for, although I did at last elbow my way through! the throng, it was not without damage to the afore-mentioned hat. It was a relief to reach the country and to sit down by a stream and watch the children gathering blackberries. I was, however, surprised to find that the berries were still pink and far from ripe. “Why don’t you wait till they are ripe?” I asked. “Coz if we did there would be none left by then” was the somewhat puzzling reply. “But surely, if you all agreed to wait, it could be managed” I said. “Oh yes, sir” responded a little girl, with a pitying I laugh at my simplicity, “but the others always come and gather them just before they are ripe.” I don’t quite know who the others are, but surely something ought to be done to put a stop to this extravagant haste and ruinous competition. The result of the present system is that nobody gets any ripe blackberries. I mentioned the subject to an old gentleman who was fishing in the rivulet; “Exactly so” said he, “it is just the same with fish. You see there is a close season for salmon and some sorts; but those scoundrels are steadily destroying the rest by catching the immature fish, instead of waiting till they are fit for anything. I suppose they think that they will not have the luck to catch them again, and that a sprat in hand is worth a herring in a bush.” I admitted the force and beauty of the metaphor, and proceeded on my journey.
Beginning to feel hungry, I made tracks for the nearest village, where I knew I should find an inn. A few hundred yards from the houses I observed a party of hulking fellows stripping on the bank with a view to a plunge and a swim. It struck me they were rather close to the road, but I nevertheless thought it my duty to resent the interference of a policeman who appeared on the scene and rather roughly ordered the fellows off. “I suppose” said I, “that free citizens have a right to wash in a free stream.” But the representative of law and order fixed upon me a pair of boiled eyes, and, without trusting his tongue, pointed to a blackboard stuck on a post some little way off. I guessed his meaning and went on. When I reached the inn, I ordered a chop and potatoes and a pint of bitter, and was surprised to find that some other persons were served before me, although they had come in later. Presently I observed one of them in the act of tipping the waiter. “Excuse me, sir” said I, “but that is not fair; you are bribing that man to give you an undue share of attention. I presume you also tip porters at a railway station, and perhaps custom-house officers?” “Of course I do; what’s that to you? Mind your own business” was the reply I received. I had evidently made myself unpopular with these gentlemen. One of them was chewing a quid and spitting about the floor. One was walking up and down the room in a pair of creaking boots, and taking snuff the while; and a third was voraciously tackling a steak, and removing lumps of gristle from his mouth to his plate in the palm of his hand. After each gulp of porter, he seemed to take a positive pride in yielding to the influences of flatulence in a series of reports which might have raised Lazarus. My own rations appeared at last, and I congratulated myself that, by the delay, I had been spared the torture of feeding in company with Eolus, who was already busy with the toothpick, when to my dismay he produced a small black clay pipe and proceeded to stuff it with black shag. “There is, I believe, a smoking-room in the house,” I remarked deprecatingly; “otherwise I would not ask you to allow me to finish my chop before lighting your pipe here; don’t you think tobacco rather spoils one’s appetite?” I thought I had spoken politely, but all the answer I got was this, “Look’ere, governor, if this’ere shanty ain’t good enough for the like of you, you’d better walk on to the Star and Garter.” And, awaiting my reply with an expression of mingled contempt and defiance, he proceeded to emphasize his argument by boisterously coughing across the table without so much as raising his hand. I am not particularly squeamish, but I draw the line at victuals that have been coughed over. To all practical purposes, my lunch was gone,— stolen. I looked round for sympathy, but the feeling of the company was clearly against me. The gentleman in the creaking boots laughed, and, walking up to the table, laid his hand upon it in the manner of an orator in labor. He paused to marshal his thoughts, and I had an opportunity of observing him with several senses at once. His nails were in deep mourning, his clothes reeked of stale tobacco and perspiration, and his breath of onions and beer. His face was broad and rubicund, but not ill-featured, and his expression bore the stamp of honesty and independence. No one could mistake him for other than he was,— a sturdy British farmer. After about half a minute’s incubation, his ideas found utterance. “I’ll tell you what it is, sir” he said, “I don’t know who you are, but this is a free country, and it’s market day an’ all.” I could not well dispute any of these propositions, and, inasmuch as they appeared to be conclusive to the minds of the company, ray position was a difficult one. “I do not question your rights, friend,” I ventured to say at last, “but I think a little consideration for other people’s feelings...eh?” “Folks shouldn’t have feelings that isn’t usual and proper, and if they has, they should go where their feelings is usual and proper, that’s me,” was the reply; and it is not without philosophy. The same idea had already dimly shimmered in my own mind; besides, was I not an individualist? I “You are right, friend,” said I, “so I will wish you good morning and betake myself elsewhere.” “Good morning,” said the farmer, offering his hand, and “Good riddance,” added the gentleman with the toothpick.
As I emerged from the inn, not a little crest-fallen, a cat shot across the road followed by a yelping terrier, who in his turn was urged on by two rosy little boys. “Stop that game” I shouted, “what harm has pussy done you?” The lads did stop, but the merry twinkle in their eyes betokened a fixed intention to renew the sport as soon as old Marplot was out of the way. But the incident was not thrown away on a pale man with a long black coat and a visage to match. “It is of no use, my dear sir,” said he, shaking his head and smiling drearily, “it is the nature of the dog to worry cats; and it is the nature of the boys to urge on the dog; we are all born in sin and the children of wrath. I used to enjoy cat-hunts myself before I was born again. You must educate, sir, educate before you can reform. Mark my words, sir, the school-board is the ladder to the skies.” “The school-board!” I ejaculated, “you do not mean to say you approve of State-regulated education? May I ask whether you also approve of a State religion,— a State church?” I thought this was a poser, but I was mistaken. “The two things are not in pari materia,” replied the dissenting minister (for there was no mistaking his species); “the established church is the upas tree which poisons the whole forest. It was planted by the hand of a deluded aristocracy. The school-board was planted by the people.” “I do not see that it much signifies who planted the tree, so long as it is planted; but, avoiding metaphor, the point is this,” said I emphatically: “is one fraction of the population to dictate to the other fraction what they are to believe, what they are to learn, what they are to do? And I do not care whether the dictating fraction is the minority or the majority. The principle is the same,— despotism.” The man of God started. “What!” he cried, “are we to have no laws? Is every man to do that which is right in his own eyes? Are you aware, sir, that you are preaching Anarchy?” It was now my turn to double. “Anarchy is a strong expression,” said I, most disingenuously; “all I meant to say is that the less the State interferes between man and man, the better; surely you will admit that?” And now I saw from my interlocutor’s contracted brow and compressed lips that an answer was forthcoming which would knock all the wind out of me. And I was right. “Do you see that house with the flags on the roof and that sculptured group over the entrance representing the World, the Flesh, and the Devil?” “I see the house, but, if you will pardon me, I think the group is intended for the Three Graces.” The parson shot an angry glance at me; he knew well enough what the figures were meant for; but even the godly have their sense of grim humor. He continued: “That is the porch of Hell; and there at the corner yawns Hell itself: they are commonly called Old Joe’s Theatre of Varieties, and the Green Griffin: but we prefer to call them by their right names.” “Dear me!” I said, somewhat appalled by the earnestness of his manner, “are they very dreadful places?” I was beginning to feel quite “creepy,” and could almost smell the brimstone. But, without heeding my query, he continued: “Are we to look on with folded hands, while innocent young girls crowd into that sink of iniquity, listen to ribald and obscene songs, witness semi-nude and licentious dances, meet with dissolute characters, and finally enter the jaws of the Green Griffin to drink of the stream that maddens the soul, that deadens the conscience, and that fires the passions?” Here he paused for breath, and then in a sepulchral whisper he added: “And what follows? What follows?” This question he asked several times, each time in a lower key, with his eyes fixed on mine as though he expected to read the answer at the back of ray skull on the inside. “I will tell you what follows,” he continued, to my great relief; “the end is Mrs. Fletcher’s.” There was something so grotesque in this anti-climax that I gave sudden vent to a short explosive laugh, like the snap of the electric spark. I could not help it, and I was truly sorry to be so rude, and, in order to avoid mutual embarrassment, I fairly bolted down the street, leaving my teacher transfixed with pious horror. To a denizen of the village, doubtless, long association had imbued the name of Mrs. Fletcher with a lurid connotation, like unto the soothing influence of that blessed word Mesopotamia,— only in the opposite direction.
I was now in the position of the happy man of fiction “with a pocket full of money and a cellar full of beer;” only my cellar was nine miles off and my money was inconvertible, to all practical intents and purposes. There was no other inn; I dare not try the Green Griffin, and I did not know the way to “Mrs. Fletcher’s.” I wanted to get back to town. “Is there a railway station anywhere near here?” I inquired of a bald-headed man, who was removing flowerpots from his front parlor window-sill. “Railway-station?” he repeated with a snigger, “not much; how should there be a railway station?” “And pray why not?” I asked. “You may well ask,” replied the bald-headed man; “if you knew these parts, you would know that half the land between here and town belongs to Lord Brown mead; and he opposed the bill which the Company brought into parliament; so of course the Lords threw it out and refused the concession: that is why there is no railway station. That is why you and I may walk or creep or go in balloons. I wonder his lordship or his lordship’s ancestors ever allowed the high road to be made. Why should not you and I grub our way underground, like moles? It is good enough for us, I suppose. Railway station, indeed!” And down came a flowerpot with a crash, just to accentuate the absurdity of the idea. “Lord Brownmead belongs to the Liberty and Property Defence League, you know, and he says no one has a right to interfere with his liberty to do what he likes with his own land. Quite right; quite right,” he continued in the same tone of bitter irony, “nothing like liberty and property!” This was an awkward dig for me. I had always believed in liberty, and I was thinking of joining Lord Brownmead’s association. “Perhaps there is a tramway or some other sufficient means of rapid communication,” I suggested, “in which case it may be that a railway is not imperatively necessary.” “Perhaps there is,” sneered the little man, “perhaps there is; only there isn’t, don’t you see, so that’s where it is; and if you prefer walking or paying for a fly, I am sure I have no objection. You have my full permission, and Lord Brownmead’s too; only mind you don’t take the short cut by the bridle-path, because that is closed. It appears it is not a right of way. It is private, quite private. Don’t forget.” I did not want the irascible little man to take me for a toady, so I merely asked why there was no tramway. “Why?” he shouted, and I began to fear physical argument, “why? because Lord Brownmead and the carriage-folk say that tramways cut up the road and damage the wheels of their carriages: that’s why. Isn’t it a sufficient reason for you? We lower ten thousand must walk, for fear the upper ten should have to pay for an extra coat of paint at the carriage-builder’s. That’s reasonable, isn’t it?” “I do not know that it is, my dear sir,” I replied, “but after all you know we have a right to use the common road in any way for which it was originally intended. They can do no more. And it does seem to me that a tramway monopolizes for the benefit of a class (a large class, I grant you) more than its fair share of the common rights of way. Ordinary traffic is very much impeded by it, and the rails do certainly cause damage and annoyance to persons who never use the public vehicles. Trams may be expedient, friend, but they certainly are not just.” I thought this would have wound up the little man for at least another quarter of an hour, but who can read the human mind? Not another word did he utter. I fancy my last remark had satisfied him that I was a Tory or an aristocrat or one of the carriage-folk, and consequently beneath contempt and outside the pale of reason. After an awkward pause, I ventured to say: “Well, thank you, I wish you good morning,” but even that elicited no response, and I walked slowly off, feeling some slight loss of dignity. I presently ascertained that coaches ran every two hours from the Green Griffin to the Royal Oak in London, a fact which the bald-headed man had maliciously (as I thought) concealed from me. The line had been established, as the barman of the Griffin told me, by Lord Brownmead himself some years ago and was maintained at considerable loss for the benefit of his tenantry and his poorer neighbors; and, as some people thought, to make amends for his opposition to the tramway. “Sometimes,” added the barman, “his lord-ship drives his self, and then, O lor!” There could be no doubt from the gusto with which the last words were pronounced that this individual derived a more tangible joy from these occasions than mere sympathy with the honored guest who occupied a seat on the box next the distinguished whip: and I accordingly slipped half a-crown into his hand à propos de bottes. He expressed no surprise whatever, but just as the coach was about to start, I found myself the pampered ward of a posse of ostlers, grooms, and hangers-on, who literally lifted me into the envied seat and evinced the most touching concern for my comfort and safety. My knees were swathed in rugs and the apron was firmly buckled across to keep me warm and dry, without any effort on my part, and as the leaders straightened out the traces and Lord Brownmead cracked the whip, half a-dozen pair of eyes “looked towards me,” while their owners drank what they were pleased to call my health, but which looked to me more like beer. As we dashed down the high street, a little man with a bald head cast a withering glance at the coach and its occupants, and, when his eyes met mine, his expression said as plain as words: “I thought so.” I soon forgot him, and fell to reflecting on the curious circumstance that it should be in the power of a few potmen and stablemen to sell a nobleman’s company and conversation for the sum of half-a-crown. Yet so it undoubtedly was. And yet, after all, it is hardly stranger than that these same potmen and millions more of their own class should have the power of selling to the highest bidder a six-hundred-and-seventieth part of kingly prerogative. The divine right of kings is just what it ever was,— the right of the strong to trample on the weak, the absolute despotism of the effective majority. Only today, instead of being conferred in its entirety on a single person, it is cut up into six hundred and seventy little bits, and sold in lots to the highest bidder, by a ring of five millions of potmen and their like.
Such is the new democracy, I thought, and I might possibly have built up an essay on the reflection, when I was suddenly roused from my reverie by a grunt from the box seat. “I beg your pardon,” said I, “I did not quite catch what you said.” “Fine bird,” repeated his lordship in a louder grunt, and jerking his thumb in the direction of a distant coppice. “Begin tomorrow: capital prospect,” he continued. “Begin what?” I asked, a little ashamed of my stupidity. “October tomorrow,” he replied, “forgotten, eh?” “O, ah, yes, of course, October the 1st, pheasant-shooting, I see,” I replied, as soon as I caught his meaning. “Done any good this season, sir?” he went on. “Good, how? what good? what in? I don’t quite understand,” said I. “Moors, moors,” explained Lord Brownmead, “grouse, sir, grouse: are you ... er ... er?” “O I see,” I hastened to reply; “you mean have I shot many grouse this season; no; I have not been to Scotland this year; besides, I am short-sighted and do not shoot at all.” A man who did not shoot was hardly worth talking to, and a long silence ensued. At last our Jehu took pity on me. “Fish I suppose; can’t hunt all the year round.” I replied that I did not care for fishing, and that I had no horses and could not afford to hunt. I was fast becoming an object of keen interest. My last admission was followed by a series of grunts at intervals of about half a minute, and at last with a zeal and earnestness which he had not yet exhibited, and in a louder key than heretofore, Lord Brownmead turned upon me with this query: “Then what the doose do you do to kill time, dammy?” I explained that I should have no difficulty in killing double the quantity of that article, if I could get it. “Out of the 24 hours,” said I, “which is the usual allowance in a day, I sleep 7, I work 7, I spend about 2 over my meals, and that only leaves 8 for recreation.” “Ay, ay, but what do you mean by recreation, sir? That’s just it, dammy.” “O, sometimes I go to the theatre, sometimes to some music-hall, then I go and spend the evening with friends, and all that sort of thing.” “Balls, eh?” “No, I am not fond of dancing.” “Ha, humph, that’s better; the tenth don’t dance, you know; never went to a prancing party in my life.” “Then last night I went to the Agricultural Hall to hear Mr. Gladstone,” I continued. “Eh? what? Mr. who? Be good enough not to mention that man’s name In my presence, sir. He’s an underground fellow, sir, an underground fellow.” I was evidently on thin ice; so, in order to turn the conversation, I remarked: “Pretty country this, my lord.” “Pretty country be damned!” was the amiable response; “it is not like the same country since that infernal bill was passed.” “Indeed! What bill is that?” Lord Brownmead cast upon me a look of ineffable scorn. “What bill do you suppose, sir? Are you a foreigner? I should like to feed that fellow on hares and rabbits for the rest of his life, sir.” “Has the Hares and Rabbits Act done much harm?” I inquired. “Done much harm? Has it revolutionized the country? you mean; has it ruined the agriculturist? has it set class against class? has it turned honest farmers into poachers and vermin? See that spire in the trees over there? Well, that poor devil used to live on his glebe; he has about fifteen kids, all told; he used to have rabbit-pie every Sunday. And now there isn’t a blessed rabbit in the place.” I presumed be was speaking of the pastor and not the steeple, so I expressed sympathy with one who was so very much a father under the melancholy circumstances. “Still,” said I, “the rabbits used to eat up a good deal of the crops, I am told.” “Nonsense, sir, nonsense! don’t believe it,” growled his lordship, “they never ate a single blade more than they were worth: and if they did, the devils got it back out of their rents.” Most of my companion’s neighbors appeared to be devils of one sort or another, but I think he was referring to the farmers on this occasion. “The devils have all got votes, sir, that’s what it is; they’ve all got votes. I remember the time when a decent tenant would as soon have shot his wife as a rabbit. The fact is, we are moving a deal too quickly; downhill too, and no brake on.” I did not wish to express agreement with this sentiment, so I merely said: “I believe you are a member of the Liberty and Property Defence League?” “Very likely; very likely; if it is a good thing, got up to counteract that underground scoundrel. Yes, I think my secretary did put me down for £50 a year. He said they were going to block this Tenants’ Compensation Bill, or something or other. Good society, very; ought to be supported by honest men.” “Then would you not give a tenant compensation for unexhausted improvements?” I asked. “Compensation!” bawled Lord Brownmead; “compensation for what? Good God! If one of those fellows on my town property put up a conservatory, or raised his house a story, or built a new wing, do you suppose at the end of his lease he would ask for compensation? He would think himself mad to do it,— mad, sir. And why should the country be different from the town? eh? The devils go into the thing with their eyes open, I suppose. A bargain’s a bargain, isn’t it? What do they mean by compensation? I’d compensate them. Clap them into the stocks. That’s what they want. Depend upon it, sir,” he added, lowering his voice to a husky whisper, “the old man is an unscrupulous agitator, and if I had my way, I would lock him up. If he’s loose much longer, he will ruin the country. Whoa, Jerry, steady my pet; damn that horse!” We were now drawing up at the Royal Oak, and, to say the truth, I was not altogether sorry to get out of the atmosphere of fine, old, crusted toryism, and walk along the street among my equals. And yet there was about the man a rugged horror of mean meddling and State coddling which one could not but respect. “A bargain’s a bargain.” Well, that is not very original; but it argues a healthy moral tone. The rabbit-pie argument struck me as rather weak, but, take him for all in all, I have met politicians who have disgusted me a good deal more than Lord Brownmead.
It was now dusk, and the evening papers were out. I stopped to read the placards on the wall, giving a summary of theday’s news. There was nothing very new. “Three children murdered by a mother.” “Great fire in the Strand.” “Loss of the Seagull with all hands.” On looking into the details to which these announcements referred, I found that the mother of the children was a widow, who had insured the lives of her little ones in the London and County Fire Office for £10 each, and had then pushed them into a reservoir. Her explanation that they had fallen in while playing would no doubt have met with general acceptance but for the discovery of marks of violence on the neck of the eldest daughter, who had evidently struggled resolutely for life. Other evidence then cropped up, which made it certain that the children were victims of foul play. The editor of the paper expressed himself to the effect that no insurance company ought to be allowed to insure the lives of children, thus putting temptation in the way of the poor. Oddly enough, the fire in the Strand seemed to have resulted from a similar motive and a similar transaction. A hairdresser had insured his fittings and stock for £150 and then set fire to his shop. Commenting on this, the editor had nothing to say about the iniquity of tempting people to commit arson, but he thought the State should see that all buildings in a public street were provided with concrete floors and asbestos paint; and that muslin curtains should be forbidden. The Seagull, laden with coals for Gibraltar, had gone down within sight of land, off Holyhead, before assistance could be obtained. It appears she had been insured in the Liverpool Mutual Marine Association for double the value of hull and cargo. One of the crew had refused to go, on the ground that she was unseaworthy, and he was sentenced to fourteen days’ imprisonment under the Merchant Shipping Act. The editor was of opinion that, although he had been justly sentenced, still, he thought, this fearful fulfilment of his prognostication would have such an effect on the minds of the public that his further incarceration would be highly inexpedient, and might lead to rioting. He was further of opinion that marine insurance ought to be entirely prohibited, except when undertaken by underwriters “in the usual way.” This article, I have since heard, made a great sensation at Lloyd’s, and four thousand copies of the paper were gratuitously distributed in the neighborhood of the docks both in Liverpool and London. A committee is being formed for the purpose of urging parliament to make all marine policies void, except those which have been made “in the usual way.” It is obvious that the crew of the Seagull hare not died in vain. They have perished in the cause of an ancient monopoly. The public indignation at their cruel fate is being used as a handy hook on which to hang all “newfangled systems of marine insurance which have not stood the test of time, and which have hardly yet seen the light of day.”
I had reached my own door when I was attracted by a shout and the wrangling of many angry voices round the corner of the street. Running round, I saw the débris of an overturned dog-cart. Several persons seemed to be engaged in an animated debate in a small circle, while the crowd played the rôle of a Greek chorus. The disputants appeared to be a young gentleman of mettle, in a high collar and dog-skin gloves, a broken-down solicitor’s clerk, the usual policeman, and a workman in corduroys. It was easy to explain the construction of the group. The “masher” was obviously the owner of the ill-fated dog-cart; the workman was the watchman in charge of the traction-engine, which was lying quietly at the side of the road with a red lamp at each side. The clerk was “the man in the street,” the vir pietate gravis called in as arbitrator by both disputants; and the policeman was there as a matter of course. When I reached the spot and worked my way to the inner circle, the debate had reached this stage: “I tell you, any well-bred horse would shy at a god-forsaken machine like that; your people had no right to leave it there. I will make them pay for this.” Workman — “Well, them’s my instructions; here’s my lights all a-burning, and you shouldn’t drive horses like that in the streets of London. They’ll shy at anything, and it ain’t safe.” Masher — “I beg your pardon, I tell you any horse would shy at that: and what is more, I believe traction engines are unlawful in the streets; I know I have heard so.” Clerk — “Well, I can’t quite say, but I think so. I know elephants are not allowed to go through the streets without a special license in the daytime, because our people had a case in which a man wanted to ride an elephant through the city and distribute colored leaflets, and the Bench said that”.... Policeman-“Traction-engines isn’t elephants; we don’t want to know about elephants; which way was you coming when your horse caught sight of this engine? That is what I want to get at.” “Straight up King Street, constable, and this fellow was fast asleep near the machine.” “No, I warn’t fast asleep; didn’t I ketch’old of the’oree?” “O, yes, you woke up, but you never gave any warning; why didn’t you shout out, Beware of the traction engine?” “What for? ain’t you got no eyes? Am I to be shouting all day? What is there worse about this’ere engine than about a flappin’ van? Eh? policeman, what is there worse, I say?” Policeman (firmly) — “That’s not the question. The question is, Was your lamp burning?” “A course they was a-burnin’; ain’t they a-burnin’ now?” Clerk (soothingly) — “They were burning.” Policeman (treading on clerk’s toes) — “What do you want here? Be off. What have you got to do with it? Off with you. Now, sir,” turning to the owner of the broken dog-cart, “was this man asleep on dooty?” “Well, I cannot exactly swear he was asleep, but” (contriving to slip something into the expectant hand of the officer) “but I am sure he was not awake,— not wide awake.” “Thank you, sir”; turning to the watchman, “you see where you are now, I shall report you asleep on dooty.” “But I warn’t asleep, I tell you.” “You was: didn’t you hear the gentleman say you wasn’t awake?” This was the conclusion; there was a slight and sullen murmur in the crowd; but it died away. The incident was at an end; law was vindicated: justice was done. Yes, done, and no mistake! But I left without any clear idea as to the right of an engine-owner to the use of the common roads. The story of the elephant seemed germane to the issue, but it was nipped id the bud. I went home, swallowed my dinner not without appetite, and set forth in search of entertainment.
There was a good deal of choice. There always is in London, except on Sundays; and even then there is the choice between the church, the public-house, and the knocking-shop. There were the brothers Goliah, and the infant Samuel on the high rope, and Miss Lottie Luzone, the teetotautomaton, and John Ball the Stentor Comique, and the Sisters Delilah, and Signor Farini with his wonderful pigeons, and the Tiger-tamer of Bengal, and the Pearl family with their unequalled aquatic feats, and I don’t know what else. While I was dwelling on the merits of these rival attractions, I heard a familiar voice at the door: “Come on, old fellow; come to the National Liberal; Stewart Headlam is going to open a debate on the County Council and the Music-halls. We will have a high old time. Come and speak.’ Asa rule, I fear the Trocadero or the Aquarium would have prevailed over the great Liberal Club as a place of after-dinner entertainment; but on this occasion I had a newly-aroused interest in all such questions as the one about to he discussed. So I put on my hat and jumped into the hansom which Jack had left at the door. En passant, you may have noticed that this is the second time I have recorded the fact that “I put on my hat.” English novelists are very careful about this precaution. “He put on his hat and walked out of the room.” “He wished her goodbye, and, putting on his bat, he went out as he had come in.” There is never a word said about the hero’s top-coat or his gloves, no matter how cold the weather may be, but the putting on of the hat is always carefully chronicled. Now, there is a reason for this. It is a well-established principle of English common law that, whenever a public disturbance or street mêlée or other shindy takes place, the representative of order shall single out a suitable scapegoat from among the crowd. In case of a mutiny in the Austrian army, I am told, it is usual to shoot every tenth man who is chosen by lot. But here in merry England the instructions are to look round for a man without a hat. When found, he is marched off to the police station with the approval of all concerned. It is part of our unwritten law. Some few months since the principle was actually applied in a cause célèbre by the magistrate himself. A journalist summoned no less a personage than the Duke of Cambridge for assault. The facts were not denied, and the witnesses were all agreed, when succor came from an unexpected quarter. “Is it a fact, as I have seen it stated in the papers,” asked the worthy stipendiary, “is it a fact, I ask, that the plaintiff was without a hat?” There was no gainsaying this. The prosecutor was hatless at the time of the alleged assault. That settled the matter; and the Commander-in-chief of the British Army left the court (metaphorically speaking) without a stain on his character.
However, as I have said, I put on my hat, and off we drove to the conference room of the big club with the odd name. “National” was first used as a political term by the late Benjamin Disraeli to signify the patriotic as opposed to the cosmopolitan and anti-national. “Liberal” was first used in a political sense about 1815, to denote the advocates of liberty as opposed to the “serviles” who believed in State-control. And yet the members of the club avowedly uphold State-interference in all things, and dub the doctrine of laissez faire the creed of selfishness. Still the building is a fine and commodious one, and what’s in a name, after all?
When he reached the political arena, Mr. Headlam, who is a Socialist, was in the middle of a very able individualistic harangue. Indeed, I have never heard the case for moral liberty better stated and more courageously advocated than on this occasion. I was anxious to hear what the censor party might have to say. I half-expected to see some weary ascetic — perhaps an austere cardinal — rise in his place and wade through some solemn passages from the sententious Hooker. I was agreeably disappointed when a chirpy little Scotchman with an amusing brogue and a moth-eaten appearance started off with prattle of this kind: “Gentlemen, there’s no one loves liberty more than me. But we’ve got to draw a line at decency, you see. I’ve been elected to sit on the Council and to see that that line is drawn at the right place. That is my duty, and my duty I mean to do. Everything which is calculated to bring a blush to the cheek of a pure maiden must be put down. And there’s another thing; I say that music-halls where intoxicating liquors is sold must be put down. We are not going to tolerate places what incites to fornication and drunkenness. But at the same time we are no foes to liberty,— that is, liberty to do right, and that’s the only liberty worth fighting for, depend upon it.” Mr. McDoodle slapped his knee with emphatic violence and sat down. “I should like to ask the last speaker,” said a thin gentleman in a back row, “whether it is altogether consistent for a State which has repealed every statute penalizing fornication itself to keep up a lot of little worrying measures for the purpose of penalizing conduct which may possibly lead to fornication. In other words, fornication is perfectly legal, but a song likely to lead to fornication is illegal. Is this consistent?” “Allow me,” shouted a stout man with a loud voice; “perhaps, being a lawyer, I know more about these matters than Mr. McDoodle possibly can. The gentleman who asks the question is in error. His major premise is false. Fornication in this country is a misdemeanor, by 23 and 24 Viet. c. 32.” “Pardon me,” replied the voice in the back row, “I also am a lawyer, and I say that the Act you refer to does not make fornication a misdemeanor; it refers only to conspiracy to induce a woman to commit the sin; that is a very different matter.” “I don’t see that it is,” replied the stout man, “for what is a conspiracy but an agreement to do wrong? Very well, then, an agreement between a man and a woman to do wrong is itself a conspiracy. And since they cannot commit this sin without agreement (if they do, of course it comes under another head), it follows that I am right.” “Not at all,” rejoined the lawyer at the back, “not at all; I fear your ideas of conspiracy are a little mixed. If you will consult Stephen’s Digest of the Criminal Law, which I hold in my band, you will find these words: ‘provided that an agreement between a man and a woman to commit fornication is not a conspiracy.’ I suppose Mr. Justice Stephen may be taken to know something about the law.” Chairman (coming to the rescue) — “I think, gentlemen, we are getting off the lines. Perhaps Mr. Gattie will favor us with a few words?” “I confess, sir,” responded that gentleman, “I confess I am in a difficulty. Are we discussing whether indecency is wrong or not? Or is the question before the meeting whether Mr. McDoodle and his coadjutors are the proper persons to act as censores morum? My own views on these three points are these: that indecency, when properly defined, is wrong; that Mr. McDoodle and his friends are not competent to define it, nor to suggest means for suppressing it; and, finally, that the State had much better leave the settlement of the question to public opinion and the common sense and common taste of the people.” A whirl of arguments, relevant and irrelevant, followed his speech, which contained references to a pretty wide field of State-interferences, showing their invariable and inevitable failure all along the line. One apoplectic little man was loudly demanding an answer to his question “whether we were going to allow people to run down the street in a state of complete nudity.” That is what he wanted to know. Some one replied that in this climate the danger was remote, and that the roughs would provide a sufficient deterrent. Some one else wanted to know whether it was decent to hawk the “Pall Mall Gazette” in the streets, and a very earnest young roan inquired whether his hearers had ever read the thirty-sixth chapter of Genesis, and whether, if so, it was calculated to raise a blush to the cheek of virtue. A wag replied: “There is no cheek about virtue.” And so the ball was kept rolling. And we left without having formed the faintest idea as to whether the State should interfere with the amusements of the people or not; whether it should limit its interference to the enforcement of decency and propriety; what those terms signify for the practical purpose; whether in any case it should delegate this duty to local authorities, and, if so, to what authorities; whether it should itself take the initiative, or leave it to persons considering themselves injured; whether such alleged injury should be direct or indirect, and, in either case, what those expressions mean. However, a good deal of dust bad been kicked up, and even the most cocksure of those who had entered the lists went out, I doubt not, with a conviction that there was a good deal to be said on all sides of the question. That, in itself, was an unmixed good.
Walking home, in the neighborhood of Oxford Circus, a respectable young woman asked if I would be good enough to tell her the nearest way to Russell Square. She had hardly got the words out of her mouth, when a policeman emerged from a doorway and charged her with solicitation, asking roe to accompany them to the station and sign the charge-sheet. Not being a member of the profession, of course the young woman had neglected to “pay her footing”; hence the official zeal. Old hands had with impunity accosted me at least a dozen times in the same street. I ventured to remonstrate, when I was myself charged with being drunk and attempting a rescue, and I should certainly have ended my day in a State-furnished apartment, had not another keeper of the Queen’s peace come alongside and drawn away my accuser, whispering something in his ear the while. I recognized the features of an old acquaintance with whom I have an occasional glass at the Bottle of Hay on my way home from the club.
I reached home at last, and the events of the day battled with one another for precedence in my dreams. Freedom, order; order, freedom. Which is it to be? When I arose in the morning, I tried to record the previous day’s experiences just as they came to me, without offering any dogmatic opinion as to the rights and the wrongs of the several cases which arose. “I will send them,” I said, “to the organ of philosophic Anarchy in America, and, perhaps, in spite of their trivial character, they may be deemed to present points worthy of Comment.” What a pity it is that we cannot put our London fogs in a bag and send them by parcel post to Boston for careful analysis!
“In abolishing rent and interest, the last vestiges of old-time slavery, the Revolution abolishes at one stroke the sword of the executioner, the seal of the magistrate, the club of the policeman, the gunge of the exciseman, the erasing-knife of the department clerk, all those insignia of Politics, which young Liberty grinds beneath her heel.” — Proudhon.
The appearance in the editorial column of articles over other signatures than the editor’s initial indicates that the editor approves their central purpose and general tenor, though he does not hold himself responsible for every phrase or word. But the appearance in other parts of the paper of articles by the same or other writers by no means indicates that he disapproves them in any respect, such disposition of them being governed largely by motives of convenience.
The death of Charles T. Fowler on December 10, 1889, at his home in Westport, Mo., deprives the Anarchistic movement of one of its most steadfast champions. He died of pleuro-pneumonia after two days’ illness. The readers of Liberty were principally acquainted with him as the author of the unfinished series of pamphlets which have long been advertised in these columns, the next of which, “The State,” was, I believe, to have concluded the work. In this last paper Mr. Fowler’s pride was centred, but his utterly unexpected death has prevented its completion, although part of it is already in type.
My personal acquaintance with Mr. Fowler was unhappily a limited one, but there was a peculiarity connected with its origin that imparted to it a certain interest and strength that perhaps neither time nor intimacy could have produced, for the acquaintance was formed at a period which I have always looked upon as the crisis of my intellectual life, and which he doubtless has likewise looked upon as the turning-point of his own.
We were fellow-disciples of Josiah Warren, I antedating him in that capacity by only a few months. I well remember the first time that I ever saw Mr. Fowler. It was seventeen years ago. I was then a lad of eighteen, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He, a few years my senior, was a Unitarian clergyman, just on the verge of discovering that he and the pulpit had very little use for each other. At that time Sidney H. Morse (also a disciple of Warren) and myself were holding in Boston what we styled “parlor meetings,” the central figure of which was our teacher, Mr. Warren, who always opened the meeting with a ten minutes’ statement of his central thought and spent the rest of the evening in answering the questions that were sure to be showered upon him.
To one of these meetings Mr. Fowler came. If I ever knew who brought him or how he happened to come, I have now forgotten. But his face and manner I distinctly recall. He came there, a budding radical in theology, but an essential conservative in his views on social questions, primed with the usual prejudices. With all the confidence which these prejudices never fail to inspire, he asked question after question, each intended as a poser. But Mr. Warren was not to be posed. On such occasions he was in his element. With quiet ease, keen wit, and rare good humor, he cracked the nuts as they were offered, and every time the kernel came out clean and whole. The ardor of Mr. Fowler’s interrogative assaults gradually diminished, and at the end of the evening he was in a meditative mood. He went, and came again. Confidence gave way to interest, interest to doubt, doubt to hard thinking, and then, Mr. Fowler’s intellect overcoming his bias, he placed his band in ours, and it has remained there ever since.
Not long after that he removed to the West, and I never saw him again. But ever and anon I have heard the clanging of his printing-press in answer to my own, and these responses have been like pulse-beats of sympathy felt across a continent to inform each other that the good work was going on. Mr. Fowler’s share of this work was a large one, and he had it well mapped out and far. But he has been forced to leave it in the shape of an ideal simply. Who will realize it? That we do not know. We only know that the task cannot be completed by his originating hand, and for this we mourn. T.
New Abolition and Its Nine Demands.
The New Abolition Party, nominally of the United States, but really limited at present (pending the time when it is to “sweep the country like a wave”) by the walls of the “Individualist” office at Denver, started out with eight demands; and, taken as a whole, very good demands they were. Lately it has added a ninth; just why, I don’t know, unless New Abolition was jealous of Liberalism and bound to have as many demands. This explanation seems hardly reasonable, because in the case of Liberalism nine does not seem to have proved a magic number for demand purposes. However this may be, it is certain that the ninth demand is a square contradiction of some of the most important of its eight other demands, notably the fifth and seventh. The ninth demand is for “collective maintenance and control of all public highways, waterways, railways, canals, ditches, reservoirs, telegraphs, telephones, ferries, bridges, water works, gas works, parks, electric plants, etc., to be operated in the interest of the people.” The seventh demand is for “immediate and unconditional repeal of all forms of compulsory taxation.” The fifth demand is for “immediate and unconditional repeal of all statutes that in any way interfere with free trade between individuals of the same or of different countries.” Suppose that Mr. Stuart (the father of New Abolition) and I live on the same side of a river. I have a boat; Mr. Stuart has none. Mr. Stuart comes to me and says: “How much will you charge to row me across the river?” “Ten cents,” I answer. “It is a bargain,” says Mr. Stuart, and he steps into the boat. But up steps at the same time the New Abolition party in the shape of a policeman (and it will have to take that shape, because in these matters a demand without a blue coat on its back and a club in its hand is an ineffective demand) and says to me: “See here! stop that! Don’t you know that the New Abolition party, which at the last election ‘swept the country like a wave,’ inundated your row-boat with the rest by instituting the ‘collective maintenance and control of all ferries’? If you attempt to row Mr. Stuart across the river, I shall confiscate your boat in the name of the law.” And then, addressing Mr. Stuart, the policeman adds: “So you may as well get out of that boat and take the ferry-boat which the New Abolitionists have already provided.” “Officer, you are exceeding your duty,” hotly replies Mr. Stuart; “I have made a bargain with Mr. Tucker, and, if you were at all qualified for your post, you would know that the New Abolition party demanded, in the platform upon which it ‘swept the country like a wave,’ the ‘immediate and unconditional repeal of all statutes that in any way interfere with free trade.’” “Yes,” I say, hastening to put in ray oar (I use the word metaphorically, not referring at all to my boat-oar), “and you would know too that this same triumphant party demanded the ‘immediate and unconditional repeal of all forms of compulsory taxation.’ So I should like to see you confiscate my boat.” “Oh! you’re a couple of tom-noodles, way behind the times,” retorts the policeman; “the demands of which you speak were numbered five and seven; but the demand in regard to ferries was a ninth and later demand, which invalidated all previous demands that conflicted with it.” Mr. Stuart, being a law-abiding citizen and not one of those “Boston Anarchists” who do not believe in the State, sorrowfully steps from the boat inwardly cursing his political offspring, takes the government ferry-boat an hour later, and gets across the river just in time to lose the benefit of a lecture by a “Boston Anarchist” on “The Fate of the Individualist Who Threw a Sop to the Socialistic Cerberus.” T.
The Moral of Mr. Donisthorpe’s Woes.
The reader of Mr. Donisthorpe’s article in this issue on “The Woes of an Anarchist” may rise from its perusal with a feeling of confusion equal to that manifested by the author, but at least he will say to him-self that for genuine humor he has seldom read anything that equals it. For myself, I have read it twice in manuscript and twice in proof, and still wish that I might prolong my life by the laughter that four more readings would be sure to excite. Mr. Donisthorpe ought to write a novel. But when he asks Liberty to comment on his woes and dissipate the fog he condenses around himself, I am at a loss to know how to answer him. For what is the moral of this article, in which a day’s events are made to tell with equal vigor, now against State Socialism, now against capitalism, now against Anarchism, and now against individualism? Simply this,— that in the mess in which we find ourselves, and perhaps in any state of things, all social theories involve their difficulties and disadvantages, and that there are some troubles from which mankind can never escape. Well, the Anarchists, despite the fact that Henry George calls them optimists, are pessimistic enough to accept this moral fully. They never have claimed that liberty will bring perfection; they simply say that its results are vastly preferable to those that follow authority. Under liberty Mr. Donisthorpe may have to listen for some minutes every day to the barrel-organ (though I really think that it will never lodge him in the mad-house), but at least he will have the privilege of going to the music-hall in the evening; whereas, under authority, even in its most honest and consistent form, he will get rid of the barrel-organ only at the expense of being deprived of the music-hall, and, in its less honest, less consistent, and more probable form, he may love the music-hall at the same time that he is forced to endure the barrel-organ. As a choice of blessings, liberty is the greater; as a choice of evils, liberty is the smaller. Then liberty always, say the Anarchists. No use of force, except against the invader; and in those cases where it is difficult to tell whether the alleged offender is an invader or not, still no use of force except where the necessity of immediate solution is so imperative that we must use it to save ourselves. And in these few cases where we must use it, let us do so frankly and squarely, acknowledging it as a matter of necessity, without seeking to harmonize our action with any political ideal or constructing any far-fetched theory of a State or collectivity having prerogatives and rights superior to those of individuals and aggregations of individuals and exempted from the operation of the ethical principles which individuals are expected to observe. But to say all this to Mr. Donisthorpe is like carrying coals to Newcastle, despite his catalogue of doubts and woes. He knows as well as I do that “liberty is not the daughter, but the mother of order.” T.
A poet only can properly review and estimate a poet, but I may at least be permitted to express the delight and gratification I felt on reading John Henry Mackay’s “Sturm” — a delight and gratification due not so much to the poetical beauty of the gifted poet’s offering (though that is by no means slight) as to its brave, consistent, and fearless utterance of the bracing thought of liberty. No small merit this, at a time when poets spend their finest efforts in adulation of the existing official disorder of things, or at best lend their genius to the glorification of an opposition which in its blind desire to set the world aright would but intensify the evils now maddening the people and driving them to despair. First and foremost, therefore, I greet Mackay’s “Sturm” as one of the earliest and strongest signs of the rising tide of protest among the German people against the spirit of authority that is threatening it with the curse of dead levelism and social decay, alike from the side of the powers that be and of the powers that want to be of social democracy.
“Sturm” was first sent into the world two years ago, when it won all hearts by its powerful condemnation of the unspeakable crime of the Eleventh of November and by its clear-sighted championship of the aims and ends of the revolution now menacing the old society with destruction. But if the first edition was already strongly tinged with the sound individualism of its author, the second edition (the one just out, enlarged and revised) leaves not the shadow of a doubt with regard to his true position in the realm of clashing thought and ideas. This might indeed already be inferred from the dedication of the work to Max Stirner — perhaps the keenest-witted expositor of the individual and his claims in this century.
It gives me great pleasure to be able to say that “Sturm” is not marred by a single compromise with communism, or any other form of sentimentalism and religion. Indeed, the poet abjures communism formally and emphatically. He has expressed his indignation and horror at the Chicago crime. But a year later he writes “firmly and slowly” of those martyred men that they also died under a delusion and that their faith was never his. He abominates the senseless jargon of faith and love, of rights and duties and human brotherhood current among the disinherited and oppressed, their appeals to these things as to metaphysical entities. He would persuade them instead to study their real interests, and tells them plainly that only when they have become the stronger they will be “in their right.” All this brings him near to me.
And when in his magnificent lines on “Anarchy” he prays like the Persian noble of old that he “may neither command nor obey” —
. . . . . . . . Ich will
Nicht herrschen, aber auch beherrscht nicht werden —,
I send him in the name of Liberty and all kindred spirits greetings across the ocean, rejoicing in the thought that his “Sturm” will contribute its own fair share towards raising the purifying tempest of the revolution of the nineteenth century which promises once again, and may we hope for all time, to gladden the hearts of men. G. S.
Advocates of the eight-hour movement have a free and easy way of disposing of criticism. They claim to be very practical, and any reasoning that does not support their conclusions they dismiss as doctrinaire. Though claiming that their movement is an economic one, they shrewdly neglect too much reference to economic issues. Scarcely any reference is made to a work that claims to be practical and scientific,— Gunton’s “Wealth and Progress.” Instead, a number of pamphlets and leaflets are issued, containing more or less Socialism, but all vague and fallacious. Probably the most pretentious of the lot is a pamphlet entitled “History and Philosophy of the Eight-Hour Movement” by Lemuel Danryid. What induces the Federation of Trades to pay for printing and distributing this heavy treatise it is difficult to say, as it contains the leading fallacy of the movement so wrapped up in sophistry as to be scarcely distinguishable. “The question is how to increase consumption and thus furnish not only increased production, but a happier and more contented people.” The difference between the eight-hour movement and all other non-Socialistic movements is in the means, rather than in the end. It proposes not only to increase consumption, but also at the same time to increase surplus values. Reformers of the Socialist school aim at increasing consumption on the part of the laborers, but they clearly see that to increase the consumptive capacity of the laborer is to give the laborer a greater proportional share of the product of his labor, at the expense of rent, interest, and dividends. The eight-hour reform, on the contrary, promises not to reduce these, but to increase them. It thus claims to be a most conservative movement, and its frantic appeal to win the confidence of the capitalists is amusing. “It stands forth on both sides of the Atlantic as a herald of peace, offering the olive branch of hope to both contending factions.” Its methods are simplicity itself. It is to increase consumption, which will increase production, which will give employment to all the reserve army of labor, thus doing away with competition among the laborers, which will result in raising wages, which again will increase consumption, production, and the demand for labor, etc., and out of the prosperity will grow increased profits, interest, and rent.
Like the profit-sharing scheme, it says to the laborers: If, with the same amount of fixed capital, you use more diligence and care and make better use of time and material, you increase the product, say twenty per cent., you shall receive out of the profits, say five per cent. Only the eight hour men would take it out in time, rather than dividends. The philosophy of the movement also includes the protection fallacy that higher profits necessarily mean higher wages. The only way to increase profits is to take less product in form of wages, or to increase the product. The eight-hour men recommend the latter, and promise themselves to increase the fund out of which higher profit will be paid, provided they are permitted to work eight instead of ten hours. I don’t know that the movement has declared itself in favor of free trade, but there is no intelligent reason why it should not, seeing that the free-trader aims at the same thing and promises the same result. Increased consumption, by increasing the market, will result in increased production, which will set all the laborers at work, which will raise wages, etc., and, by giving capital a greater field of exploitation, will raise profits, interest, and rent. The free-trader, it is true, looks for a foreign consumption, while the Federation is rather inclined to develop the native industry of consumption.
Seeing how simple the basic principle of the movement is,— increased consumption,— it is strange that the laborers have not taken to it more readily. It is a delightfully pleasant lesson to learn. Increase your standard of comfort, and the thing is done. “It is but a truism to point out that the greater the wants, the greater will be the toiler’s consumptive capacity, and that there must necessarily be greater demand for production.” Then why doesn’t the laborer increase his consumptive capacity? Ask, and it shall be given. Demand causes supply. May be they have not demanded loudly or vigorously enough. Seeing that the short-hour movement commenced about the year 1800, and that the laborers have made but little progress, it would not seem a bad idea to hold out the olive-branch, baited with seed of more interest and rent, to the idlers. Explain to them the history and philosophy of the movement; ask them to raise their standard of comfort; explain to them that this means increased production, from which follows all the rest, and seeing that the eight-hour men only ask for the remnants of the banquet,— not like the Socialists, who want the whole product of their labor, hardly any objection could be raised by the idlers, who, as they increase their wants, will increase their surplus value.
Is it complained that this is only ridiculing a great movement? I answer that the ridiculousness is involved in the arguments for the movement. And besides, any argument more profound is stated to be doctrinaire. What was the answer to Victor Yarros’s exhaustive and intelligent criticism of Gunton’s book? When pushed hard on economics, the advocates fall back on the morals of the movement. Humanity demands it, they say. It will give the laborer time to think, and then he will become a Socialist, say those who are Socialistically inclined. The revolutionists who have stolen into the camp in disguise give a prophetic wink and say: “Wait till the movement rises, then see what will fly.” This is worse than the blind leading the blind.
Not the slightest notice is taken of any intelligent criticism. They all beg the question, and nothing but a repetition of the glorious results supposed to follow are indulged in. Effects are mistaken for causes, and the arguments they use are self-destructive. If just as much can be produced in eight hours as in ten, and no increased wages follow, where is the benefit? If less is produced and wages remain the same, it is equal to a rise in wages; if the decreased production is followed by decreased pay, even supposing the ten per cent, unemployed are set at work, where is the benefit? If increased production does not mean an equal increase in wages, the movement is simply a demand for the privilege of being further exploited, and English syndicates are answering the demand. There is a misleading idea in their truism that reduction of the hours means increased production. It is true that labor-saving inventions have been introduced to offset the increased demands on the part of labor, but this has resulted to the benefit of capitalists, and not to the laborers, or else Edward Atkinson is correct, and the laborer now gets all he deserves.
It is as a national movement and a theory for improving the condition of the working classes that these criticisms are made. That certain trades can reduce their hours and increase their wages there is no doubt; but they can do so only by decreasing profits, not increasing them. Where a reduction of hours means a greater intensity of labor no benefit results. Where it means greater cost of production, it forces into use more machinery, and under capitalism that means a harder struggle for labor. It ought not, and it will not under Socialism, but the eight-hour movement is not Socialism. Only on one condition could the agitation be successful, and that is that all the laborers determined at a certain date to strike for shorter hours and no reduction of pay. But in case of such perfect organization, supposing such a thing to be possible, what occasion would there be to limit the demand to eight hours? Why not make it six, or such number of hours as was found to be necessary to provide the standard of comfort? But that would be a revolution, not a reform. The Federation has decided upon the more “practical” and impossible plan of inaugurating the reform in sections, and this in face of the fact that in nearly_every trade there is a reserved army of unemployed on which capitalists may fall back. Another part of the programme is that the laborers who are not immediately to share in the reform shall provide the funds for those who are to inaugurate it in their section; in the event of the success in this section, as profits are not to decrease, prices must rise, and so the laborers who do not share the benefits are to pay for those who do. This is extremely practical.
It is thus seen that eight-hours, like the single-tax, profit-sharing, etc., is but a scheme for evading Socialism, and the Socialist who can be hoodwinked into any such movement is either very innocent or an unprincipled corkscrewer. A. H. Simpson.
E. C. Walker, in offering excellent comment upon Herbert Spencer’s recent unsatisfactory letter on the land problem in the London “Times,” in which the great thinker virtually confesses that the problem has proved too difficult for his intellectual powers, says with humility: “It would be presumptuous in me to suppose that these paragraphs would ever arrest the attention of Herbert Spencer, but surely there is room for hope that he will in some manner be made acquainted with the ‘personal occupancy and use’ theory of land tenure, for in its practicalization, I am thoroughly convinced, lies our only chance of escape from landlordry on the one hand, and its dreaded alternative, nationalization, on the other.” For a man who has studied all the solutions proposed, and who has become thoroughly convinced of the equity and expediency of the occupying ownership principle, the above is too modest to be compatible with the proper pride of firm conviction. At any rate, Mr. Spencer certainly will now find his attention arrested by paragraphs very similar to Mr. Walker’s. For “Waterman’s Journal,” the clearest and ablest exponent of Spencerian individualism, has quoted without disavowal or comment, and therefore apparently with approval, a Liberty editorial to the effect that “the principle of mutualism in exchange and the principle of occupying ownership in the matter of landholding are the only important factors which can and will transform the present society, by degrees, into one governed according to strict justice.”
After a long and detailed examination of the contents of the “Nationalist,” the editor of “Waterman’s Journal” comes to the conclusion that the Bellamists are “gifted with a larger share of ignorance than falls to the lot of the average man.” Thus Liberty’s purely deductive opinion, expressed before the appearance of the magazine, has now also been reached by induction. The ignorance of the Nationalists may therefore be accepted as a scientifically demonstrated fact.
Beauties of Bellamism.
Mr. Edward Bellamy’s book, “Looking Backward,” in the form of a novel, portrays a social order akin to that advocated by the European State Socialists, but so largely impregnated with Christian communism that its large circulation may be readily accounted for among those who know that their aspirations for a better social state are not encouraged by the various religious denominations who are disinclined to look to this world for a practical goal in their race for happiness. The picture Mr. Bellamy draws is also captivating and plausible to the worker whose toil is unremunerative. An assurance that the family will always be provided for is more than he can get under the present social order, and he willingly listens to Mr. Bellamy’s seductive schemes. The increasing discontent with existing conditions makes men eager to hear of a solution, and has also aided the circulation of Mr. Bellamy’s book, even among the well-to-do, many of whom, he says, are riding in the stage coach without contributing to its progress, and who fear that the toilers will upset the coach before the end of the journey.
The general idea pervading the work of Mr. Bellamy is that the social conditions of today are manifestly not in harmony with justice and equity. Without giving any of the details, it is supposed that one hundred years in the future a change in our industrial system has taken place, in which conditions appear that are a realization of what Mr. Bellamy considers the true relations of men to one another in the social state. The absence of the method by which so complete a change was effected is the weak feature of the book, as it is, in fact, the weakness of all the plans that have for their object the sudden transformation of one state of civilization to that of another so characteristic of the sentimental reformer of today.
The fact very prominent in the industrial situation of today is the consolidation of interests formerly antagonistic and competitive; this fact is dwelt upon by Mr. Bellamy as the forerunner of the industrial change, but there must have been a time when the consummation was reached. Whether the people who conducted the various trusts, corporations, etc., were forcibly dispossessed, or willingly acquiesced in the change, we are not informed; but at any rate, the revolution was peaceable, and not in accordance with the methods of the followers of the red flag, who, as Mr. Bellamy puts it, were the hired advocates of the syndicates and capitalists.
The abolition of private ownership in the means of production, and the consolidation of the entire capital of the nation, is hailed as the christening of the new civilization, wherein all those who work will have enough, provided they work according to law, and those who would like their own way about the matter are either ostracised or outlawed, for it is said, “we require that every one shall serve the nation instead of leaving him to his choice.” By requiring is certainly meant that punishment follows the disobedience of the edicts of the “we” — of course the majority. Wherein such a state of affairs differs from an absolute despotism is difficult to see, when we are told that every one must serve in the profession of common labor for three years before he dare select a special avocation.
We are in the habit of congratulating ourselves that the time has passed when a majority can dictate us as to what we shall do to be saved; but here is thrust upon us a system, which, while not concerning itself about our salvation in another world, compels us to mould ourselves to suit the majority’s opinion about our salvation in this. We are not to buy and sell as buyer and seller wish, because “that would be inconsistent with the mutual benevolence and disinterestedness which should prevail between citizens, and the sense of community interests which supports our social system.” We are all to have the same wages, although the term wages is repudiated, the hours of labor being regulated accordingly to offset the present natural law of supply and demand; still this law is made to do duty on special occasions. When volunteers fail to enter trades which the law of supply and demand has determined to be hazardous and uncongenial, the State resorts to a compulsory draft, and woe to the man who will not obey, because “a man able to do duty and persistently refusing is cut off from all human society”; this means that he is either imprisoned or outlawed.
The Communistic idea is largely developed in Mr. Bellamy’s scheme, for he says: “Even if the principle of share and share alike were not the only humane and rational basis of society, we should still enforce it as economically expedient.” Now, no one will find fault with the doctrine of Communism if its advocates choose to practise it among themselves. In the assurance that each one will give to the community the utmost of his endeavors, there may be a prosperous and socially satisfied association, of which there are at present quite a number in the world, but in all of them there is no coercive system which enforces the doctrine, the harmonious unanimity precluding the idea. The statement that the “disintegrating influence of self-seeking is opposed to concert of industrial action” is not substantiated by the actions of men, even under adverse circumstances. The self-interest of men naturally inclines them to concert of action. Our experience teaches us that the greatest good each one can get is to associate, so that burdens can better be distributed among those who reciprocally are benefited. But so long as man imagines that acting alone is best for himself, it is tyranny to impose our method of action upon him, even if we are convinced that he will be the gainer.
The difficulty of making a perfect social state based upon either coercive Socialism or coercive Communism no doubt occurred to Mr. Bellamy while enlarging upon the details of the organization. For we are told that the people who buy a newspaper are allowed to pay the expense of its publication, choose the editor, and remove him when unsatisfactory. This is an individualistic idea quite inconsistent with the prohibition otherwise carried out. If this portion of his system were applied universally, there might be people who would prefer to elect their own shoemaker and discharge him when he made poor shoes; and since this liberty should be allowed consistently to buyers of all wares, we should probably have competition in the shoe business as well as in the newspapers, and Mr. Bellamy’s scheme would result in a sort of philosophical Anarchism, which is the exact opposite of his desire. The very fact of any competition being allowed, it must follow that its beneficial effect upon the buyers of commodities would enlarge its sphere, and nationalism would be doomed among a people so enlightened otherwise as has been described.
What are the People? The good men and true
Who cheer me. What’s the mob? Why, the fools that cheer you.
What’s a patriot? A traitor whose treason prevails.
And what is a traitor? A patriot who fails.
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.