“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.
Some good news: Auberon Herbert proposes to start a weekly paper in England in the interest of liberty. His programme appears in another column. Let all who can, lend a hand to this worthy project.
To be wrathfully abused by hypocrites and canting demagogues; to be cordially hated by tyrants and would-be despots; to be feared by pretentious ignoramuses and imbeciles; to be lied about and slandered by cowardly tricksters,— surely this is a privilege but few enjoy. And Liberty is indeed proud of the fact that it is foremost among those elect.
Two of Liberty’s subscribers have already figured among the lucky recipients of books under the extraordinary plan inaugurated by the “Transatlantic,” whereby any person may send his address and the name of his favorite book to that paper on a postal card, and receive, if fortune favors him, the coveted work, free of cost. For further details see the advertisements on the eighth page.
I call the attention of book-buyers to the additions to Liberty’s Library,— “Voluntary Taxation,” by J. Greevz Fisher, of Leeds, England, and “The State: Its Origin, Its Nature, and Its Abolition,” by Albert Tarn, also an English Anarchist. Note, too, the new advertisement of the famous triangular discussion of “Love, Marriage, and Divorce,” by Henry James, Horace Greeley, and Stephen Pearl Andrews.
That is a beautiful poetical fable of Mr. Lloyd’s — of there being in civilized society “a strong element of quiet, earnest minds, usually saying little, thinking broadly, deeply, tolerantly; without malice, or bitterness, or scorn, or dogmatism; hearing all, loving all, and slowly but surely helping all.” What a pity that it is wholly the creation of a poet’s fancy, and doesn’t correspond to anything in the world of prosaic reality!
T. B. Wakeman, the positivist philosopher, in writing about constructive Liberalism, recognizes the Anarchists as an important division of the army fighting for social progress. T. B. Wakeman, the partisan Nationalist, virulently denounces the Anarchists as brainless kickers and reactionary obstructionists who hinder the reformation of society on a just and voluntary basis, which his party aims at. How unfortunate that Jekyll and Hyde cannot be brought face to face!
Mr. Bilgram would not place any restrictions upon mutual banking; he only predicts that these free banks will not be able to compete with the government institution. Why, of course not, if the government is to “make the notes at public expense and charge no cost to the borrowers exceeding the rate of risk attached to their securities.” Nobody will want to pay twice for what he can get by paying once. But, I ask Mr. Bilgram, is this really “placing no restrictions upon mutual banking”?
With infinite zeal and no discretion F. Q. Stuart, editor of the Denver “Individualist,” goes on piling up his idiocies mountain high. He is the Henry Seymour of America,— a perfect type of the philosophical hydra-polyp. You lop off one head and its place is straightway taken, not by another, but by a dozen others, each developing a more hopeless lunacy than its predecessor’s. Appalled at the prospect of a limitless reproduction of the polyp species, I hesitate to strike again. Better to bear the ills we have than fly to others that we know not of.
An Anarchist is usually a person who has outgrown the forms of authoritarian Socialism, whose data and reasoning he knows perfectly well. Or, to be more accurate, he is usually a person who knows all that the State Socialists know, and more,— that extra knowledge being precisely the cause of his rejection of orthodox Socialism and espousal of Anarchism. But even the leading State Socialists and Communists are generally destitute of the slightest conception of the real essence of Anarchism. Consequently their criticisms of it are as little deserving of consideration as any opinion born of ignorant prejudice.
Mr. Pentecost, who had been charged by two Nationalists with misrepresenting their cause by stating that it involves government by physical force, has asked that “some Nationalist send (him) twelve hundred words explaining how Nationalism can be achieved without physical force.” No one has so far availed himself of the opportunity; but the “California Nationalist,” in a short and confused paragraph, has declared that “it is impossible” to prove any such thing. Assuming that it is correct, we must infer that Mr. Pentecost’s critics either do not know what Nationalism is or else have a peculiar Nationalism of their own. In any case, what perfect agreement we see between the State Socialists, and what a striking contrast they present to the Anarchists, who are alleged to be eternally disputing among themselves!
People speak of a “tendency” toward State Socialism or Nationalism. Were they to analyze the matter, they would find the state of things to be this: the masses are suffering and complaining without knowing what to do and where to place the responsibility for their misery. They have neither the opportunities nor the ability to master the problems of the day, and naturally follow those who promise them excellent reforms and point to a seemingly easy and simple way of obtaining them. Intelligent persons, of course, distrust such reformers and their sovereign remedies. It is not quantity, but quality, not numbers, but intelligence, that count in intellectual battles. Hence Anarchists have no reason to be alarmed at the aforesaid “tendency,” which is simply a repetition of the old, old story,— of ignorance worshipping phantoms. For knowledge is the only power, and on this they rely.
Praise is due Rabbi Solomon Schindler, one of the leaders in the Nationalist movement, for his exceptionally frank and direct manner of describing the end and aim of that movement. Unlike other agitators, who, partly through muddle-headedness and partly through low cunning, seek to confuse the issue between individuality, liberty, and State compulsion and regulation, Mr. Schindler boldly tells the plain truth. Writing in the Boston “Globe” about the German emperor’s conversion to Nationalism, he says: “The German government is about to practically solve the very problem which they have been trying to unravel. A great deal has already been accomplished by legislative action, and the line upon which Germany proceeds is exactly that line which runs between extreme socialism and extreme nihilism,— a line which we may call nationalism. Although Bellamy’s vision is not yet realized in Germany, in its details, the first lines at least around which an embryo can develop are already traceable. Germany has not alone a military army which it is compelled to support by its peculiar situation; it has also a vast army of nonmilitant officials, a part of which forms already an industrial army that approaches somewhat Mr. Bellamy’s pattern. All the railroad officials, from the switchman to the director; all the teachers, from the lowest grade to the highest; all the officials of the mail service; all the telegraph operators, and all the municipal and court officials, form battalions of that army. After they have once entered the service, they are cared for for life, and in case of disability they are pensioned off.... It is not at all surprising that the man who stands at the head both of such a militant and such a semi-industrial army should become convinced of the possibility of making every citizen an official, and of granting to every citizen the assurance that he shall not be obliged to starve the next day, no matter what should happen to him.” Now, is there any danger of such an ideal of society taking root in the minds and hearts of more or less free and rational men? The idea is absurd.
I have had plenty of evidence of Herr Most’s unfairness and meanness; consequently I am not surprised at finding additional proof of those qualities (characteristic of all who pretend to be altruistic and communistic in the highest degree) in his English pamphlet, “The Social Monster,” just published. But it may be useful for those who still retain respect for Herr Most to learn of his latest manifestation of unmanliness. Here is what he has to say of me and my work: “Mr. Tucker is a pupil of the Manchester school, who has come too late into the market He stands outside of the modern class movement of the great mass, and knows not the laws according to which social development nowadays proceeds. He is ignorant both of the tendencies and the technical achievements of our industrial life, and when he speaks of Anarchism, he represents no known social order at all, but simply paints out an illusion fostered by his own brain. In Europe he is nobody, and in America he is somebody only in certain literary circles which, without any real understanding of the matter, follow a loose, sentimental longing to reform the world.” For Herr Most’s opinion about my information and influence I care considerably less than nothing, being rather glad than otherwise of having merited his displeasure. But note the conscious dishonesty of the man who, in describing me, takes care not to mention the name of Proudhon whose disciple I have always declared myself to be and whose ideas I am popularizing and disseminating. To admit that I follow Proudhon is to raise me a great deal higher in the opinion of many revolutionists and reformers than would suit Herr Most’s interests and inclination, and so he calls me, utterly without warrant, a disciple of the Manchester school, which, every intelligent student knows, has been no more consistently and severely criticised by anybody now living than by me. Note, also, the deliberate dishonesty of the man who, while professing this view of Liberty’s theoretical position, never called Lum to account for teaching the same theories in the “Alarm,” from Herr Most’s own office, but, on the contrary, pretended to admire it and urged his followers to support it in all possible ways. The world is full of humbugs, but Herr Most is certainly one of the candidates for the prize.
The Rag-Picker of Paris.
By Felix Pyat.
Translated from the French by Benj. R. Tucker.
Continued from No. 155.
The archbishop shook his head.
“Then you accept the alliance with the people?” replied the nuncio, firing up. The other responded sententiously:
“We must accept what we cannot prevent. The Republic, to be sure, is not a good, it is an evil .... but it is also a fact. The best way to bury it is to seem to adopt it. As long as we sprinkle holy water over the trees of liberty, their roots will yield neither flowers nor fruit. As long as we continue to be the priests of the Republic, we shall be its masters.”
“Then we must bless it to the utmost in order to destroy it?”
“Yes, to flatter the crowd is to capture it. Let us keep its confidence if we wish to impose our will upon it.”
“I should prefer frank and open war,” said the nuncio, incredulous and proud. Mgr. Affre began to smile.
“You are an Italian noble,” said he to the impetuous prelate; “I am a French bourgeois. Hence our divergence of opinion. Believe me, the confessional does its work here, slowly but surely. The priests lead the women, and the women lead the men. The drop of water, falling ever and ever, finally wears away the rock. The population will be disgusted before long with the barren Republic. Let us not treat the democrats as enemies, but as stray lambs. To attack is a great mistake. To pardon is all right. It is shrewder and surer. Let us claim that we are oppressed, receive our budget, make collections for the Holy Father, and bless the republicans,— and my word for it, they will die!”
At that moment a priest of the archbishop’s palace announced the pressing visit of the Abbé Ventron.
“A shrewd fellow,” said Mgr. Affre to the nuncio in a low tone.
And to the vicar:
“Let him enter and be welcome.”
A moment later the Abbé Ventron, all red, out of breath, and gesticulating, made his appearance.
“Well, what?” asked the archbishop.
“Do not disturb yourself, Monseigneur,” said the priest, choking with horror and heat; “there will be no marriage! Baron Hoffmann and his daughter have committed a frightful crime, and perhaps more than one.”
“Well, and what then?” said the archbishop, without manifesting any emotion.
“He has just been arrested,” said the Abbé Ventron.
“What!” cried the nuncio and archbishop together. “He has allowed himself to be caught?”
“Don’t speak of it to me,” groaned the priest of Saint Roch; “he! Hoffmann! I thought he was smarter than that. I can’t get over it.”
“What a scandal!” said the prelates, mournfully. “Our Holy Father’s banker! And Peter’s pence!”
“Then there will be no wedding?” concluded Mgr. Affre.
“Worse than that,” exclaimed the Abbé Ventron.
“What then? My God!”
“Claire’s affianced is going to marry a poor working girl, Marie Didier.”
“A misalliance! Oh! that happens every day,” said the archbishop, indulgently. “Calm yourself, my dear Abbé.”
“But this Camille, if left to himself, will undoubtedly have a civil marriage. The nuptials will pass from under our nose.”
“The devil!” the archbishop could not help saying.
“A civil marriage!” repeated all the ecclesiastics in chorus.
“Bah!” exclaimed the nuncio, impetuously; “to marry this low-born Berville to Mile. Hoffmann was pitiful enough but to a Didier, ah! that is impossible. Let them couple like dogs, if they like; so much the better!”
Mgr. Affre could not restrain a movement of impatience as he said to the nuncio:
“I tell you that you will ruin all, you Roman gentlemen who have strayed into our ranks; you have no more diplomacy than the most insignificant country priest.”
“Monsieur Affre,” cried the nuncio, violently.
“Monsieur!” exclaimed the archbishop, repeating this incredible appellation. “Yes, or Citizen, if you prefer,” said the furious nuncio, aggravating the insult. A deathlike silence prevailed in the chapel.
Mgr. Affre, ever shrewd, mastered his indignation and made no answer, but his lips and hands trembled convulsively.
Suddenly his face lighted up.
“They will not go to the priest,” said he; “well, the priest will go to them.”
“What?” exclaimed the nuncio, in amazement.
The archbishop took the arm of the Abbé Ventron and said to him:
“Let us go to bless the union of Camille Berville and Marie Didier.”
The astonished priest accompanied him, saying rapturously:
“Oh! what a genius! what an archbishop! he ought to be a cardinal ... and Pope ... if only the Gallic cock could crow at St. Peter’s.”
“Yes, it is a master stroke.”
“And we remain in our evangelical rôle,” said M. Affre. “We will have even the atheists on our side.”
Then, addressing the nuncio triumphantly, he said:
“You will see this in the papers tomorrow, my dear brother, and you will have no need to carry the news to Rome.”
He started quickly for the exit.
“Will you lend me your coach?” he asked the nuncio, in a tone of raillery.
And receiving an affirmative nod, he said, as he straightened more and more on the Abbé Ventron’s arm:
He went away before the eyes of the nuncio and enjoying his success in advance.
“Oh! how I would laugh if they should send you ad patres,” exclaimed the nuncio, with a gleam of contempt and hatred in his Italian eyes.
Religious, Civil, or Free?
After having resisted his own desires and every effort, prayers, reproaches, and even violences, of his friends to retain him, Marie begging with clasped hands and on her knees and Camille going so far as to close the doors and secretly throw the thirty notes back into the basket, Jean baffled and dominated them all, utterly inflexible, sacrificing his own happiness to that of his child.
“You have no further need of me,” he said to them; “adieu!”
“But,” said Marie, “you have no right to go away, Father Jean; it is wicked! I no longer recognize you, you so good, so obliging; do you wish to deprive us of the pleasure of being grateful? Yon leave us the pain of ingratitude, chagrin, regret, the remorse of knowing you as abandoned, poor, old, suffering, sick, without care, without aid, without anything in the world when we have everything, thanks to you! It is cruelty to us! You treat us as enemies.”
But Jean was firm; with the delicacy, sagacity, and independence of his nature, he instinctively felt that he would be embarrassing and embarrassed in the world in which Camille moved; he appreciated the incongruity of a rag-picker in a banker’s house; he considered his presence in the Berville mansion an impossibility. Accordingly he had made up his mind, and was immovable.
As he left the salon, he met in the ante-room the Abbé Ventron preceding the archbishop in pontifical garb.
Rag-picker and priest ran against and recognized each other, each with a feeling of surprise that fixed them face to face, motionless for a moment like two dogs about to fight.
The Abbé, a basilate of Tartuffe, a hypocrite composed of equal doses of impudence and cunning, was the first to recover his self-possession; and, quickly resuming his sang-froid and his celestial audacity, he acted as if he had never seen either the confessional or Jean.
The rag-picker, more human, could not suppress a cry:
“Ah! the priest of Saint-Roch.”
And, instead of going, he remained, curious to know the object of this suspicious visit.
The imperturbable Abbé Ventron passed by him, without seeming to further notice him.
But Jean stopped him with a question.
“Why the devil do you come here with your laces? Are you one of the married?”
The Abbé stammered:
“I come to speak to Mile. Marie.”
“To confess her again.... Oh! if she were still in my care, this time you would not get out of the confessional alive.”
Then, restraining himself out of respect for Camille, he added:
“Go in; we shall see how you will come out.”
To be continued.
Prospectus of Auberon Herbert’s Paper.
We shall be Radical in a true sense; we shall be Conservative in a true sense.
We shall oppose all hereditary privilege, all religious establishments, all artificial regulations tending to monopoly in land; and we shall equally oppose all attacks upon property of every kind, whether upon land, railways, or any form of capital engaged in trade; we shall oppose the ever growing burdens of taxation, the power of unlimited rating and taxing, with the view of ultimately replacing compulsory taxes by voluntary national subscriptions; we shall oppose the growth of power in the hands of all administrative bodies; ep shall oppose all compulsory teetotalism, and all persecutions of vice in the name of virtue; we shall oppose all centralized systems of national education, seeking gradually to establish in their place purely voluntary institutions; we shall oppose all closing of the professions by means of State portals; we shall oppose restrictions and inspections and departmental interferences; we shall fight red tape, waste, and officialism in all its forms; we shall watch with the closest attention and record every hopeful effort on the part of labor to improve its condition by voluntary self-helping methods; we shall try to show the disastrous effects of State Socialism and all its Parliamentary imitations; we shall fight impartially against every political party that, regardless of principles, struggles for place and power; and we shall try to lead the whole body of the English people to care more for their rights of free action than for all the bribes which politicians can offer them.
Our purpose is to make this country the freest, the most tolerant, the most enterprising, and, economically, the cheapest country that a man can live in. In all things, little or big, we shall fight on the side of free trade and against protection.
All who are interested or are willing to help by writing, collecting information, promoting the circulation of the paper, taking copies, or subscribing capital, or in any other way that suggests itself to them, are requested to address Mr. Auberon Herbert, Old House, Ring-wood, England.
Mr. Yarros’s Newark Lecture.
On Tuesday evening, February 20, Victor Yarros, an associate with Benjamin R. Tucker in the publication of “Liberty” in Boston, spoke in Oraton Hall, Newark, N. J., to a large audience upon the economic situation. He referred to various proposed remedies for the present deplorable condition of the poor,— bodily, mentally, and morally,— including Socialism, Nationalism, and the Single-tax; and then explained, in a general way, the philosophy of Anarchism, which, he said, seemed to him to afford a solution of the entire social problem. He said that Anarchism would not only abolish poverty, but would tend to the elevation of the individual and society in every other way. Therein it differs from Nationalism, which would, indeed, abolish poverty, but would also involve a flattening of the life of the individual that would be another wide spreading evil. He pointed out that “Georgeism or Patrick Edward Doveism” would not give land to the landless, and therefore would be of no benefit to the poor. His lecture was quiet but earnest. His manner was gentle but impressive. He made no gestures, but the audience of about two hundred listened intently to him from beginning to end. His subject matter was arranged with consummate logical precision, and, although he spoke without written notes, his words might have been printed as they fell from his lips with very few corrections. It was an exceptionally fine address. The Newark papers reported this meeting the next day, and spoke of Mr. Yarros as an “Anarchist spouter,” who entertained his audience by “belching his wind.”
[J. A. S. in Detroit Free Press.]
The following is a specimen chapter from Mr. Edward Bulluny’s forthcoming great work, entitled “Looking Rearward,” and is now published by kind permission of the author. In order that the reader may get an idea of the plot of Mr. Bulluny’s work, it should be stated that the story hinges upon the following rather unusual incident: M. Yeast, of Detroit, attends a banquet on the evening of April 1, 1889. He imbibes rather too freely of champagne. As a result, a deep sleep, of the Rip Van Winkle order, is superinduced. He does not awake until the year 1999. The book deals with the wonderful changes that have occurred meanwhile, all of which are accurately narrated.
Since yesterday a century has passed away. — Lafitte.
That evening we four played cards until nearly midnight. After the ladies had retired, I said to Dr. Cheete: “I think we had better retire also, doctor, for I fear that you feel tired after our long walk.”
“Not in the least,” he replied, “and I enjoy listening to your descriptions of your times so much, Mr. Yeast, that I prefer to sit up for a while, if agreeable to you.” I assured him that it would afford me great pleasure.
“By the way,” said Dr. Cheete, as he seated himself in the most comfortable chair in the room, “do you happen to have any more of those cigars about you?”*
“Thank you,” said he, as I handed him the only one I had. “I will say that I think the cigars of your day were not altogether bad.”
The doctor’s manner, the frank readiness, devoid of any pretended hesitation, with which he took my last cigar, and his undisguised enjoyment of it all tended to put me completely at my ease and compelled my admiration. I thought that a person in my day would hardly have done that so graciously. I watched the doctor, who was wholly absorbed in his cigar, for a few minutes; then the question that had been on my lips several times in our rambles occurred to me, and I said: “Will you explain to me, doctor, the reason for the numbers that I see on the foreheads of all children and many young people?”
“That is a very pertinent question,” replied Dr. Cheete. “Those numbers are for the purpose of designating and distinguishing one person from another.”
“Why is that necessary?” I asked. “Does not a person’s name answer for this?”
“The State has abolished names,” he replied.
“Do you mean to say, doctor, that these persons have no names whatever?” I inquired.
“Most certainly,” said Doctor Cheete, “and why not? Did you never consider how superfluous a thing a name is in the abstract? I will admit that, under the miniature and unnatural conditions prevailing in past times, a name was a necessity. The more intense the individuality, the greater the need and power of a name. While a name was a necessity under such conditions, it was also on many accounts an evil. Indeed, Stuffy, the historian, positively asserts that names sometimes became so intolerable in your day that men not infrequently had them changed by process of law.”
“That is quite correct,” said I.
“Your evidence on the point,” replied the doctor, “will be very valuable, particularly to Stuffy, who has written eight volumes to prove that it was a natural condition to expect under the circumstances.”
“But to continue the subject,” said the doctor, “under the existing order, a name is not only superfluous in the abstract, but also in the concrete. The fundamental principle of our system is the exact equality of all under it. The idea that a person should be benefited by the honor accorded to his or her parents or should be made to suffer by bearing a name to which stigma attached, as was the case in your day, would shock the nation’s sense of right; and that one person should have a melodious or pleasing name and another person one that was harsh and ungrateful to the ear, would be equally repugnant to the nation. But a greater reason than these for the abolishment of names is found in the fact that the nation alone has dealings with its citizens, either as regards production, distribution, or consumption. The nation found that the attempt to keep its account by names was both an unwieldy and unsatisfactory method, and that to designate each person by a number would be far simpler and better for many more reasons than I have enumerated.”
“But tell me,” I said, “do you not have trouble from duplication of numbers? The population of this country must be nearly 200,000,000 now.”
“On the contrary,” replied Dr. Cheete, “there is absolutely no trouble and no possibility of it, although our population is really about 500,000,000. The system is exceedingly simple, and is essentially as follows: The entire population is divided into 1,000 general districts on the basis of population. Each of these districts has some distinguishing mark; for instance, the letters of the alphabet were first used, then the letters of the Greek alphabet, and then various other signs and symbols. This mark is always printed before the numbers. Each of the 1,000 general districts is subdivided into small local districts, and each local district has a certain set of numbers set apart for its use. The distinguishing mark for our general district is a Greek cross, and the numbers set apart for our local district commence at 75,001 and end at 85,000. By the time this limit is reached all in the first five thousand will be dead, and we will commence at 75,000 again. In each local district the State has a representative whose duty it is to stamp the next consecutive number on the child, together with the date of its birth. The child’s humanity, as I have told you before, constitutes its claim on the State, and this number now constitutes a draft on the State for an annual credit card that will never be dishonored.”
“Pardon me, doctor, but even at the risk of appearing impertinent, I wish to ask how it is that none of your family have these numbers.”
“There is no impertinence in your question, I assure you,” replied Dr. Cheete. “You must first understand that, owing to the many thousands of important details absolutely requiring the attention and thought of the nation, at first this matter was neglected as not absolutely necessary, although most desirable. When at length the nation proposed the reform, there were some persons who had sentimental objections to relinquishing their names, and it was not until twenty-two years ago the 15th of last October that the nation reached a unanimous decision in favor of the system and even then it was decided not to make it retroactive. Ethel was born three months before the system was adopted, and consequently was not numbered, much to ray regret.”
“Why are the numbers placed on the forehead?” I asked.
“The reason for this seems very obvious to us,” the doctor rejoined. “The credit cards are not transferable. The numbers on the foreheads enable the clerks to assure themselves instantly that a person presenting a credit card is the proper holder of the card. The numbers also serve to identify a person absolutely anywhere on the surface of the globe. In your day you hail a limited and clumsy system of letters of credit. If this system of numbering had been adopted in your day, you could have prevented at once fully half of all your crimes by reason of the certainty of identification and detection in most instances. But people in your day were dull fellows.”
“How could a person be identified, doctor, provided the numbers on the forehead were destroyed or partially obliterated by an accident?”
Dr. Cheete mused for a minute or two before replying, and then said: “The word ‘accident’ has become obsolete, Mr. Yeast. In your day, I believe, it referred to an event that occurred without one’s foresight or expectation. At that time, when the individual reigned supreme, accidents were the order of the day and were traceable to the individual competition, cupidity, or carelessness. But under our system accidents are impossible. When we eliminate the individual, we eliminate all his consequences. The statistician Blowhard is authority for the statement that nothing in the nature of an accident has occurred in this country for over seventy-five years.
“Still,” continued Dr. Cheete, “the wisdom of the nation provides against seemingly impossible contingencies by stamping the number on the right forearm as well as on the forehead. Once only has there been occasion when this pre-caution has proved useful. Some ten years ago one of our very few insane persons became violent, and in a severe paroxysm of madness he severed his head from his body and threw it out of the window, where it fell into a river and was carried out to sea. Within a very few minutes his reason was completely restored, and he has remained perfectly sane to this day. He frequently has to identify himself by the number on his arm, particularly when traveling.”
It was some moments before I could control my feelings sufficiently to say, “Come, doctor, don’t draw too heavily on my credulity.”
The doctor replied rather severely: “I am relating nothing but facts,— facts of the year 1999, please remember, however. I should overlook your doubts, Mr. Yeast, for I readily understand that this would have seemed strange in your day, when the method of all human accomplishment owed its initiation to the individual, and its development was frustrated and rendered ineffective by the wastes resultant from individual indirection and competition. You must try and grasp the idea of the State. Try and comprehend how powerful the State is. Remember that under our institutions all the mutual relations of the co-ordinate functions of the State are so perfectly adjusted that there is practically no horizon to the vision of achievement.”
When I retired, I turned on the music, and was soon fast asleep under the soothing influence of “Where Did You Get That Hat?” Then I dreamed that I was the solitary guest at a magnificent banquet of fifteen courses. And the first course and the second course and the third course, and each succeeding course, was stuffed veal.
* I will state here that on the day before I commenced my long sleep I had purchased a box of very choice cigars and taken them to my underground apartment. Strange as it may seem, after the long Interval of more than a century, they were now fully as fresh as I was myself.
Auberon Herbert on Marriage.
The following letter was addressed by Auberon Herbert to the editor of the “Pall Mall Gazette” in reply to some very reactionary utterances of the “family altar” type which that journal had quoted with admiration.
A few days ago the “Pall Mall Gazette” quoted from a speech of Professor Murray about Mr. Parnell. Personally I have never admired the fashion or the spirit of the Irish leading. I have seen in it the same deep taint that I see in the modern Liberal party, as a party. Irish patriots have been manufactured wholesale at the price of 20 to 30 per cent. — or whatever the percentage may be — of reduced rents; just as modern Radicals are manufactured at the price of free education, taxation of land, and the promise of State services at the cost of owners of property. In neither case do I believe the product worth the producing. Having said this, and having separated myself from admiration of Mr. Parnell’s leading, I wish to protest most strongly against Professor Murray’s manner of speaking about Mr. Parnell. It breathes that deep unconscious hypocrisy which pervades almost all of us in this matter; especially those who, with a very slight knowledge or understanding of their own human nature, proceed to denounce their fellow men. Men safely moored in the haven of marriage sit in sublime judgment upon those who are moved by their passions in irregular and unhappy ways that lie outside marriage. Do not think I am upholding the state of no marriage as against the state of marriage. I deeply reverence the state of true marriage — by which I mean the faithful continuous attachment of two people to each other, without any legal restraint to perpetuate that attachment when its inner life has departed — but I say that this true marriage is a concern of the two people themselves, and not the concern of the world outside them. It always seems to me a deep unconscious hypocrisy on the part of happily married people when they revile either the transgressions of the unmarried or a transgression such as that of which Mr. Parnell is accused. I am not minimising these transgressions. They are generally sins against one’s own sense of honor and truth and constancy; they are departures from high ideals; they are acts of high treason against one’s own happiness and the happiness of those involved; but I deny utterly they are the concern of the outside world, and it is just as impertinent of Professor Murray to comment upon Mr. Parnell’s relations with Mrs. O’Shea, in the high tragic line of a betrayed Ireland, as it would be impertinent for me to comment publicly upon his own ill-natured treatment of his wife or his severity towards his children — if he is married, and if I had any reason to believe in either of these things, Which most certainly I have not — as obstacles to our confidence in him as a trustworthy Liberal or a trustworthy Conservative. A great deal of this kind of talk comes from the shallow soil in which Liberal principles of the present day are grown. Women are to vote, to be lawyers, doctors, and so forth; but they are not to be treated as the real owners, with all the consequences, of their own selves. The modern Liberal, in this respect, is often like the Paris husband, who buys a revolver for twenty francs and dramatically shoots his wife, if she has betrayed him, amidst the half-suppressed applause of other Paris husbands. A sense of property in the wife — joined, of course, in France to the intense amour propre or vanity that has been injured — is at the bottom of the shooting, just as with us it is at the bottom of that foul creation, the divorce court and its money damages. No fouler institution was ever invented; and its existence drags on, to our deep shame, just because we have not the courage frankly to say that the sexual relations of husband and wife, or those who live together, concern their own selves, and do not concern the prying, gloating, self-righteous, and intensely untruthful world outside them. What Mr. Parnell was as a political leader, that he remains to-day. His faults are not increased; his virtues as leader are not diminished. That he may or may not have sinned against a woman’s happiness and self-respect, and against his own happiness and self-respect, are matters that affect him and her, and not his political followers. If the Irish party allow him to be cast on one side — if they allow him to be sacrificed to Catholic jealousies — they will indeed barb the saying, that has been more than once pointed against them, that they cannot be well served because they betray their leaders.
Stanley and the State.
To read of Stanley’s rescue of Emin Pasha from Wadelai, and of Wolseley’s failure to rescue Gordon from Khartoum, suggests a comparison between official and individual enterprise. To think of the £10,000 nucleus of Stanley’s fund and of the £300,000 voted by Parliament for the rescue of Gordon; to think of the expense and result of one which succeeded, and then of the other which never succeeded: and then consider how far State Socialism is likely to be a success so long sis people are not good enough to do without it.
Fine Art Gallery, Camberwell, London, S. E.
“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.
Armies that Overlap.
Of late the “Twentieth Century” has been doing a good deal in the way of definition. Now, definition is very particular business, and it seems to me that it is not always performed with due care in the “Twentieth Century” office.
Take this, for instance: A Socialist is “one who believes that each industry should be coordinated for the mutual benefit of all concerned under a government by physical force.”
It is true that writers of reputation have given definitions of Socialism not differing in any essential from the foregoing,— among others, General Walker. But it has been elaborately proven in these columns that General Walker is utterly at sea when he talks about either Socialism or Anarchism. Asa matter of fact this definition is fundamentally faulty, and correctly defines only State Socialism.
An analogous definition in another sphere would be this: Religion is belief in the Messiahship of Jesus. Supposing this to be a correct definition of the Christian religion, none the less it is manifestly incorrect as a definition of religion itself. The fact that Christianity has overshadowed all other forms of religion in this part of the world gives it no right to a monopoly of the religious idea. Similarly, the fact that State Socialism during the last decade or two has overshadowed other forms of Socialism gives it no right to a monopoly of the Socialistic idea.
Socialism, as such, implies neither liberty nor authority. The word itself implies nothing more than harmonious relationship. In fact, it is so broad a term that it is difficult of definition. I certainly lay claim to no special authority or competence in the matter. I simply maintain that, the word Socialism having been applied for years, by common usage and consent, as a generic term, to various schools of thought and opinion, those who try to define it are bound to seek the common element of all these schools and make it stand for that, and have no business to make it represent the specific nature of any one of them. The “Twentieth Century” definition will not stand this test at all.
Perhaps here is one that satisfies it: Socialism is the belief that progress is mainly to be effected by acting upon roan through his environment rather than through man upon his environment.
I fancy that this will be criticised as too general, and I am inclined to accept the criticism. It manifestly includes all who have any title to be called Socialists, but possibly it does not exclude all who have no such title.
Let us narrow it a little: Socialism is the belief that the next important step in progress is a change in man’s environment of an economic character that shall include the abolition of every privilege whereby the holder of wealth acquires an anti-social power to compel tribute.
I doubt not that this definition can be much improved, and suggestions looking to that end will be interesting; but it is at least an attempt to cover all the forms of protest against the existing usurious economic system. I have always considered myself a member of the great body of Socialists, and I object to being read out of it or defined out of it by General Walker, Mr. Pentecost, or anybody else, simply because I am not a follower of Karl Marx.
Take now another “Twentieth Century” definition,— that of Anarchism. I have not the number of the paper in which it was given, and cannot quote it exactly. But it certainly made belief in cooperation an essential of Anarchism. This is as erroneous as the definition of Socialism. Cooperation is no more an essential of Anarchism than force is of Socialism. The fact that the majority of Anarchists believe in cooperation is not what makes them Anarchists, just as the fact that the majority of Socialists believe in force is not what makes them Socialists. Socialism is neither for nor against liberty; Anarchism is for liberty, and neither for nor against anything else. Anarchy is the mother of cooperation,— yes, just as liberty is the mother of order; but, as a matter of definition, liberty is not order nor is Anarchism cooperation.
I define Anarchism as the belief in the greatest amount of liberty compatible with equality of liberty; or, in other words, as the belief in every liberty except the liberty to invade.
It will be observed that, according to the “Twentieth Century” definitions, Socialism excludes Anarchists, while, according to Liberty’s definitions, a Socialist may or may not be an Anarchist, and an Anarchist may or may not be a Socialist. Relaxing scientific exactness, it may be said, briefly and broadly, that Socialism is a battle with usury and that Anarchism is a battle with authority. The two armies — Socialism and Anarchism — are neither coextensive nor exclusive; but they overlap. The right wing of one is the left wing of the other. The virtue and superiority of the Anarchistic Socialist — or Socialistic Anarchist, as he may prefer to call himself — lies in the fact that he fights in the wing that is common to both. Of course there is a sense in which every Anarchist may be said to be a Socialist virtually, inasmuch as usury rests on authority and to destroy the latter is to destroy the former. But it scarcely seems proper to give the name Socialist to one who is such unconsciously, neither desiring, intending, nor knowing it. T.
A Misinterpretation of Anarchism.
One of the most interesting papers that come to this office is the “Personal Rights Journal” of London. Largely written by men like J. H. Levy and Wordsworth Donisthorpe, it could not be otherwise. Virtually it champions the same political faith that finds an advocate in Liberty. It means by Individualism what Liberty means by Anarchism. That it does not realize this fact, and that it assumes Anarchism to be something other than complete individualism, is the principal difference between us. This misunderstanding of Anarchism is very clearly and cleverly exhibited in a passage which I copy from a keen and thought-provoking lecture on “The Outcome of Individualism,” delivered by J. H. Levy before the National Liberal Club on January 10, 1890, and printed in the “Personal Rights Journal” of January and February:
If we are suffering from a poison, we find it advantageous to take a second poison, which acts as an antidote to the first. But, if we are wise, we limit our dose of the second poison so that the toxic effects of both combined are at the minimum. If we take more of it, it produces toxic effects of its own beyond those necessary to counteract, so far as possible, the first poison. If we take less of it, the first poison, to some extent, will do its bad work unchecked. This illustrates the position of the Individualist, against the Socialist on the one side and the Anarchist on the other. I recognize that government is an evil. It always means the employment of force against our fellow man, and — at the very best — his subjection, over a larger or smaller extent of the field of conduct, to the will of a majority of his fellow citizens. But if this organized or regularized interference were utterly abolished, he would not escape from aggression. He would, in such a society as ours, be liable to far more violence and fraud, which would be a much worse evil the intervention of government needs be. But when government pushes its interference beyond the point of maintaining the widest liberty equally for all citizens, it is itself the aggressor, and none the less so because its motives are good.
Names aside, the thing that Individualism favors, according to the foregoing, is organization to maintain the widest liberty equally for all citizens. Well, that is precisely what Anarchism favors. Individualism does not want such organization any longer than is necessary. Neither does Anarchism. Mr. Levy’s assumption that Anarchism does not want such organization at all arises from his failure to recognize the Anarchistic definition of government. Government has been defined repeatedly in these columns as the subjection of the non-invasive individual to a will not his own. The subjection of the invasive individual is not government, but resistance to and protection from government. By these definitions government is always an evil, but resistance to it is never an evil or a poison. Call such resistance an antidote if you will, but remember that not all antidotes are poisonous. The worst that can be said of resistance or protection is, not that it is an evil, but that it is a loss of productive force in a necessary effort to overcome evil. It can be called an evil only in the sense that needful and not especially healthful labor can be called a curse. The poison illustration, good enough with Mr. Levy’s definitions, has no force with the Anarchistic use of terms.
Government is invasion, and the State, as defined in the last issue of Liberty, is the embodiment of invasion in an individual, or band of individuals, assuming to act as representatives or masters of the entire people within a given area. The Anarchists are opposed to all government, and especially to the Slate as the worst governor and chief invader. From Liberty’s standpoint, there are not three positions, but two: one, that of the authoritarian Socialists, favoring government and the State; the other, that of the Individualists and Anarchists, against government and the State.
It is true that Mr. Levy expressly accords liberty of definition, and therefore I should not have said a word if he had simply stated the Individualist position without misinterpreting the Anarchist position. But in view of this misinterpretation, I must ask him to correct it, unless he can show that my criticism is invalid.
I may add, in conclusion, that very probably the disposition of the Individualist to give greater prominence than does the Anarchist to the necessity of organization for protection is due to the fact that he seems to see less clearly than the Anarchist that the necessity for defence against individual invaders is largely and perhaps, in the end, wholly due to the oppressions of the invasive State, and that when the State falls, criminals will begin to disappear. T.
Man versus the State.
In the “Data of Ethics” Mr. Spencer gave some indications of an important modification of his views concerning the relation between the individual and the State as developed in the chapter in “Social Statics” devoted to the deduction of the right of the individual to ignore the State. We were told that “ethics, considered under its absolute form,” has to deal not merely with justice between man and man, but with “justice between each man and the aggregate of men, with the relations between the individual and the State, considered as representing all individuals.” It has to show “what is the ethical warrant for governmental authority; to what end it may be legitimately exercised, and how far it rightly may be earned”; and “up to what point is the citizen bound to recognize the collective decisions of other citizens.” Already then it seemed evident that Mr. Spencer had come to the conclusion that the deduction of the right of the individual to ignore the State was invalid, and that no such right exists for members of society. But as no reason for the change of opinion was presented, and as a promise was made to return to the subject and duly discuss it, none of Mr. Spencer’s old supporters cared to engage in a premature attack upon what they held to be an erroneous step.
Now Mr. Spencer refers again to the subject in his Magazine article on “Absolute Political Ethics,” and, after explicitly stating that in “Social Statics” some invalid deductions are to be found, he uses the following language: “Beyond the relations among citizens taken individually, there are the relations between the State and the man.... It is clear that the preservation of society is an end which must take precedence of the preservation of its individuals taken singly, since the preservation of each individual, and the maintenance of his ability to pursue the objects of life, depend on the preservation of society. Such restrictions upon his actions as are imposed by the necessities of war, and of preparedness for war when it is probable, are therefore ethically defensible.”
This time it is no longer the part of wisdom or justice to refrain from criticising Mr. Spencer’s remarks. To be sure, he still withholds his reasons, and consequently leaves us in utter uncertainty as to the weapons requisite for the battle with his error; but all the more does it become necessary to emphatically protest against the flagrantly unphilosophical and improper manner with which he treats an unsettled matter. “It is clear (!) that the preservation of society must (?) take precedence,” etc. Why, nothing can surely be farther from the truth. Before this can become clear, we need to see a conclusive refutation of the reasoning by which Mr. Spencer had established the right of the individual to ignore the State, as well as a more or less complete investigation of the nature of the State and of the present and future conditions of social life. Mr. Spencer may think it “clear” to him, but he is bound to render the new faith that is in him equally clear to those who still entertain his own former view. Moreover, Mr. Spencer well knows that the Anarchists (whom he himself called the most advanced political school) deny that the State is necessary and useful, and seek to bring about its abolition by teaching individuals the principles, and by obtaining the conditions, of free harmonious relations; and he must also be aware that some of his ablest disciples, who are not identified with Anarchism, take the same position. D. G. Thompson, for instance, speaks of society’s progress toward Anarchy, and, although he affirms in one place that the State will always exist, his definition of the State, immediately following that expression, differs from Mr. Spencer’s. To him the State, or society, means the relation of a man to his neighbor and fellow-man, not to any “collectivity.” Have the assaults of such unreliable scientific authorities as Huxley, whose interests and prejudices do not allow him to approach the study of sociology in a proper spirit, driven Mr. Spencer into such a panic that he cannot realize how much he has sacrificed of philosophical dignity to the doubtful necessity of recovering the esteem of the pillars of modern society?
Having entered my protest, let me expose the weakness of the remarks quoted from Mr. Spencer. “The preservation of society is an end which must take precedence of the preservation of its individuals taken singly.” Why? Because “the preservation of each individual,” etc., “depends on the preservation of society?” But suppose an individual prefers to protect himself without the aid of the State? Has he no right to raw material, the fruits of his toil, etc.? Suppose he enters into relations with other individuals, giving and receiving services freely, while turning a deaf ear to all claims of the collectivity he has no use for, has the collectivity the right to enslave him? And then, what is the State? How is the State formed? How does it arrive at, proclaim, and carry out, decisions? la majority force the highest ideal of society, the best conception of social right? Again: Mr. Spencer mentions “ethically defensible restrictions imposed by the necessities of war and of preparedness for war when it is probable.” But who is to decide upon such necessity and probability? How is it to be determined where offensive war commences and where defensive war ends? Is the German government right in transforming the nation into a military camp because it deems war probable? Has no German the right to oppose the German State, no Russian to overthrow his government? These, I know, are questions of relative political ethics. But if the right of the individual, not only to ignore, but to fight, existing States, is conceded, who is to decide when this right shall lose its sanction? Unless a perfect society is one in which absolute unanimity of opinion prevails (in which case a perfect society would exclude the State and its restrictions), we are always to expect wide differences of opinion regarding necessities and probabilities of war, and whose opinion is to constitute the opinion of the “State”?
Until all these difficulties, and many others, have been satisfactorily met (which, I am tempted to say, is an impossible task), we will continue to think and teach that neither relative nor absolute political ethics can furnish anything real enough to shake the principle that the individual has a right to ignore the State. V. Y.
A Word to Glass-House Dwellers.
There are many things in the reform world that would appear sad, were they not refreshingly comical. For instance, the following characteristic deliverance of the individual who edits the “Workmen’s Advocate” for the Socialistic Labor Party:
There is much in common between Spencer and George, as there is between them and all past and present “scientific Anarchists”; and that is systematic disagreement in all things, constant apostacy..... We do not speak of Proudhon, who, inconsistent as he was, said and did some good things in his lucid moments, when the pressure of practical questions compelled him to descend from his high pile of confused reasoning. Could he return to this world of woe, he would kick his parrot Tucker from the so-called Proudhonian perch at the foot of which Pentecost is now worshipping.
Remarks of this nature are not meant to be sound, correct, or serious; they do not stand in any relation to fact or logic; they are intended to be amusing and rebellious against the accepted forms of rational discussion. And indeed, I can sympathize with the State Socialists in their unconquerable passion for some species of freedom, even if it be freedom from the rule of reason. It must be a real hardship to them, poor sufferers, to be always the slaves of “scientific reasoning,” in addition to the heavy yoke of the tyrannical system of organization, actual and prospective, which, like the oxen they sincerely flatter by imitation, they stupidly bear. Has not a philosopher said that lying is possible and easy for all, while absolute veracity in thought, in word and deed, demands the strictest mental discipline? What’s the use of being in a state of perpetual painful dependence upon facts? Why not defy them occasionally, and indulge in the luxury of wilful falsehood and conscious inconsistency? Especially pardonable is such revolt on the part of those who fully realize that they have nothing to gain, but everything to lose (I am not speaking here of interests higher than party pride and success), by any scrupulous attention to the recognized conditions of intellectual controversy. The editor referred to knows very well that his ideas about Proudhon are few and dim; he knows further that this is no secret to those better informed; but why should these considerations deter him from edifying his partisans by a “smart” paragraph? There is no reason, under the circumstances, for abstaining from such a pleasurable excitement; and we feel we should only exhibit an utter lack of the sense of humor if we proceeded to deal in earnest with the aforesaid editor. When he ventures to estimate Proudhon in a less irresponsible condition of mind, it will be time enough to convict him of presumptuous ignorance. Though I would not vouch for his wisdom, yet this word of fair warning may save him from sin and its unpleasant wages.
But while speaking of such matters, may it not be appropriate to remind our State Socialistic editors and lecturers that they have absolutely no right to exploit the fame and reputation of Marx, to impose their own half-silly, half-tyrannical designs upon the uncritical multitude of hero-worshippers under the false pretence that they faithfully adhere to the “scientific Socialism” of Marx? They must know (that is, if they are not, after all, as profoundly ignorant of Marx himself as of Proudhon; which, with most of them, is perhaps the case) that, if Marx were alive today, he would turn away in fury and contempt from the political plotters and religious sentimentalists who control the movement, and would denounce and deride them as mercilessly as, in his “Manifesto,” he denounced and derided all the schools of Socialism that diverged from his philosophical and practical views. Marx was an intense materialist and a frank revolutionist. He abhorred politics and religion, and insisted that between them and progressive Socialism war is eternal. His writings abound with expressions of hatred and disgust toward such Socialists as the majority of those now engaged in State Socialistic propaganda. If he was right, they are abominably wrong; if they are right, he is absurdly preposterous. At any rate, for them to seek concealment behind his name and pretend to continue his work, when in truth they have repudiated him almost entirely, is a piece of cowardice and dishonesty. It is insult added to injury. V. Y.
The newspapers tell us that Herbert Spencer, being much disturbed in his philosophical labors by the numerous noises of the city, has had recourse to an aurist, who has fashioned for him a pair of buttons that fit into his ears so perfectly as to deaden all sounds. Here, Mr. Donisthorpe, is the solution of your embarrassing barrel-organ problem, and thoroughly Anarchistic it is. Just wait a while, and perhaps modern science will relieve, with equal satisfaction to Anarchy and yourself, all those other woes over which you lifted such an entertaining wail in a recent number of this journal.
Apparently in all seriousness the New York “Sun” observes: “It is a remarkable phenomenon that this age of scepticism is also an age of faith like that of the first days of Christianity.” What is perhaps far less remarkable, though more real, is that the scepticism penetrates all thinking and reading portions of society, while the faith is daily becoming more and more confined to the illiterate and hopelessly superstitious.
I quote from Mr. Pentecost: “All forcible taxation is robbery from laborers, whether you call it rent, interest, or taxes. Therefore public opinion should oppose all laws for the collection of debts and all taxation.” Wherefore therefore? Collection of debts by law may be wise or unwise, but where is the sequence? What has it necessarily to do with either rent, interest, or taxes?
The Limits of Liberty.
[Wordsworth Donlathorpe, in Personal Rights Journal.]
In the last two numbers of the “Journal” I affirmed that the limits of liberty could not be ascertained by any à priori method, but only by induction: in the same way as moral principles of conduct are ascertained. Criticising this view, Mr. Evershed, in a very able letter in December’s issue, makes war, as it seems to me, upon the Method of Induction itself. I contended that, because a certain tendency has been observed as an increasing tendency throughout the whole history of civilization, we are justified in concluding that that tendency is persistent and beneficial. Mr. Evershed replies by citing cases of an opposite tendency over short periods, such as the manifest tendency of the State in Plantagenet times to interfere in such matters as the price of chickens and ducks. Mr. Thorold Rogers, in a lecture in 1883 on “Laissez Faire,” referred to the tendency at the present day towards collectivism in legislation, and drew the conclusion that we must expect more of it, and furthermore that it is probably beneficial. This kind of argument can be best examined by the light of illustration. At one time navigators rightly observed that as a general rule (not affected by exceptions) the further you travel south, the hotter it is. It was not till the equator was crossed that the generalization was shown to be false. Before the days of Torricelli it was said that “Nature abhors a vacuum.” It was not until Torricelli had balanced the weight of the atmosphere with 32 feet of water that it was discovered that Nature exults in a vacuum only under certain circumstances. If Adam was created at the full moon, he would have been justified in asserting, after a few days, that in about a fortnight the moon would cease to exist; if his birthday was on the 21st December, he would have been similarly justified in believing that the climate gets hotter and hotter every day, and that in a few years’ time he would be roasted. Six months later he would have unlearned this teaching of experience. Again, if I affirm that the sea is encroaching on the land in south-east Yorkshire, Mr. Evershed might point to the ebb of the tide by way of confutation. Or, better still, he might point to the marine fossils embedded in the rocks far away inland to prove that, as a fact, the land was encroaching on the sea. Now, I think Mr. Evershed will admit that all we are enabled to do by the method of induction is to make our observations cover as wide a field as possible, to base our conclusions upon that wide survey, and to act upon such conclusions for what they are worth. In what are called the practical sciences, our generalizations are formed with a purpose. “Honesty is the best policy” may or may not be true for all time and in the far-off planets, but for our present purposes we take it as proved. If a little girl was playing on the rocks just after high tide, it would be a purposeless and unkind truth to tell her that the sea was encroaching on the land. To all intents and purposes it would be an untruth. To tell a harbor company the same thing would be a wholesome truth; to tell a geologist the reverse would be also a truth requiring qualification or explanation. The absolute and ultimate truth is unknown,— possibly unknowable. If we assume, as some say, that at one time a shallow ocean covered the whole surface of the earth, then the ultimate truth is that the land is encroaching on the sea.
Now, for the purposes of social government or organization, I observe that laissez faire has been an increasing tendency from the earliest times down to today; not without perturbations and aberrations, but on the average and on the whole. I further observe that whatever adaptations take place over a long period, persistently and increasingly, in organized beings, are beneficial to them. If the trunks of elephants and the necks of giraffes grow longer and longer as the centuries pass, I conclude that long trunks and long necks enable the animals to reach food otherwise unattainable, or are otherwise beneficial to them. When I see races of men adopt rules and customs over very long periods, such as paternal recognition of offspring or collective suppression of individual brute-force, I similarly infer that these customs are beneficial to the race. There are exceptions, I know. Sometimes these are due to exceptional circumstances which are known. Sometimes we cannot account for them at all.
Oddly enough, Mr. Evershed accepts the argument from tendencies in the field of ethics. “We know,” he says, “that in all times men of all degrees of honesty and dishonesty have lived side by side and entered into competition with each other; therefore there is a strong presumption that those moral principles which in the course of time have become predominant are the most beneficial. The others have had the same chance and failed.” But, to use his own words when criticising State morals, “how far does this take us? Because London has been hitherto getting bigger, will it eventually spread over the whole island?” Will honesty end in the frankness of the crystal man who never says “Not at home” when he is upstairs, who never says “Glad to see you” when he is sorry, who never “regrets to be unable to come” when he is delighted to have an excuse? If not, how far will it take us? The answer is — far enough. The principle is good enough for working purposes. And that is what I affirm of the principle of laissez faire. Stick to it. It has worked well up to now, whenever and wherever it has been fairly tried. If it breaks down when the sun grows cold and the air is “froze stiff” it will be time enough to go into its absolute merits and to find something better.
But Mr. Evershed draws a very important distinction between moral and political tendencies. In the latter case, he says: “The prime conditions necessary for the automatic process of selection — diversity and competition — have not been present to anything like the same extent. States do dot intermingle like individuals, but occupy separate areas, often of large extent. Over every such area there is generally uniformity of system; and if the system is occasionally changed, it is only to be replaced by another uniform system.”
Here I must join issue uncompromisingly. Even under absolute despotism the same ruling authority applies different political principles in different departments; still more is this the case in constitutional and democratic States. In our own country at the present time we have individualism paramount in many departments of activity, while in other departments (e.g., sexual relations) the most stringent socialism prevails. In religion, we have Parliament making laws for one Christian sect and leaving the others free to make their own laws. If nineteen men on nineteen stools without sixpence among them choose to buy on credit to any amount, they may do so; but if twenty men commence similar operations, the State steps in, takes half their affairs out of their bands, publishes or compels them to publish the state of their finances, their several interrelations, and a variety of other matters: which makes their efforts ineffectual. Our law of partnership is the embodiment of individualism. Our law of joint-stock companies is the embodiment of the crudest socialism. All through the criminal law, all through the civil law, we find the same absence of uniformity. Perhaps the law relating to fox-hunting is the most marvellous medley of Anarchy and socialism known to the world. Woe betide the government that tampers with it. Why, this very week the State which dares to muzzle all the dogs in the country slinks trembling away from the kennels. Muzzle the fox-hounds, and out goes the Government. Then consider the individualism in the West-End Clubs, and contrast it with the socialism to which the Working Men’s Clubs are subjected.
All this is quite apart from the local variations admitted by Mr. Evershed himself, some of which are created by law, others by public opinion, and others, as he says, by rebellion. The Scotch and the English law of contract do not rest on the same fundamental principle even. And some people say that the right of public meeting is one thing in England and another in Ireland; whereas in Wales one cannot have a glass of beer with one’s Sunday sandwich. And so on, and so on. All this diversity and competition have resulted in proving the folly of socialism.
An Electoral Tale.
[Translated for Liberty by Benj. R. Tucker from the French of Jean Richepin, in Gil Blas.]
There was once a charming country called the country of Aquarelle and inhabited by the innumerable and happy people of Colors.
There was nothing lacking to the happiness of these worthy people, who had solved quite naturally the difficult problem of living at once in the most lawless anarchy and the most harmonious concord. To that end they had had only to decree the absolute liberty of all in everything.
It had not even occurred to them to decree at the same time that no one’s liberty should infringe upon that of others. In fact, they did not conceive how that could happen.
In what respect, for instance, would the expansion of the green have been hindered by that of the red? They pretended, on the contrary, that the latter helped the former.
They maintained also that there are in the world no two shades exactly alike, and from this they concluded that no one could ever have occasion to be jealous of his neighbor, each having to enjoy his own independent idiosyncrasy.
It is needless to say that this proclamation of all originalities did not prevent alliances. Rather, it prompted them. Is it not admitted that extremes meet and that opposites attract each other? Hence an infinite variety of unions.
Thus we see that it was precisely from the most lawless anarchy that the most harmonious concord had logically proceeded.
Alas! as bad luck would have it, one day a parrot passing over this charming and fortunate country dropped some dung on the ground. In this dung were some seeds which the bird bad ill digested. These well-manured seeds sprouted and grew into noxious herbs.
And of these were born lawyers.
A short time afterward the country of Aquarelle was in revolution, and the Colors were quarreling. They were searching for a system of government.
In vain did a few sages try to recall their fellow-citizens to reason.
“But why seek” they asked, “a system of government, since we do not need to be governed? Each of us governs himself according to his understanding. Is not that the simplest and best system? Think a little.”
But it was too late. Each now found it insufficient to govern himself, and wished in addition to govern others, and wished that especially.
The era of politics was at last open, as the lawyers cried triumphantly, and they were going to shake off the old yokes!
“What old yokes?” asked the sages. “There are none. We are free.”
“We are never really free” answered the lawyers,” until we have shaken off the old yokes. There are always old yokes to shake off! You will see if there are none! And, without further talk, you do see that there are infamous tyrants, abominable oppressors; yes, you yourselves confess, implicitly, that there are such, by the very fact that you prevent us from shaking them off.”
And the innumerable people of Colors began to shout:
“Long live lawyers! They are right. Off with the old yokes!”
After which the poor people rushed upon each other, mutually seized each other by the throat, strangled each other, and disemboweled each other, while the lawyers said less less with spurts of saliva.
The era of politics was in full and fruitful flower.
Meantime in the hubbub of the Colors, the most brilliant soon found themselves victorious, crushing by their vigor the vague shades and blended tints. Especially before the red, the brutal red, all the others fled the camp.
And the red cried:
“I am the strongest. I govern.”
The crowd of shades responded:
“Long live the king!”
There was peace, undoubtedly; but of the old-time felicity there was none. For henceforth farewell for each to the liberty to be one’s self completely. Now it was necessary to be more or less a reflection of the monarch. The country of Aquarelle lost its charm of variety and became of a uniform vermilion tint. No one was himself any longer.
But the era of politics was not at an end. The lawyers still spurted saliva. Revolutions soon began again.
The red being used up in coloring everything else, it ceased to be the strongest. The blue replaced it. Then the yellow. And all the Colors of the solar spectrum held the throne in succession, in royal dynasties.
The country of Aquarelle was none the happier. The inhabitants bitterly mourned the loss of their liberty. They
wept when they read the beautiful legends that told of the sweet and harmonious anarchy of by-gone days.
This time the lawyers told the truth (as they do occasionally) when they talked of the old yokes to be thrown off. Now there really were old yokes. In fact, there was nothing else.
Not a liberty remained standing. Under the pretext that each hindered that of another, they had gradually abolished them all.
This was the final and inevitable upshot of politics.
Then they consented to listen to the few sages, very few, who had continued to try to live as in old times,— that is, to govern themselves without wishing to govern others. They asked them if there was no way of returning to the happy point of departure. The response came:
“Do as we do.”
But the lawyers raised the subtle objection:
“You do nothing.”
“Precisely” said the sages.
The people of Colors could not understand. The syphilitic poison of politics was in their veins forever. They had tasted slavery and authority. The idea of governing themselves without a system of government seemed to them unreasonable.
Then certain demi-sages, thinking to reconcile liberty and authority, conceived the government of all by all, and they founded the Republic.
“There it is” cried the lawyers,” there it is, the real era of politics. All shall govern each and each shall govern all.”
It was at this blessed epoch that universal suffrage was invented.
To tell the truth, it did not at first bear all the fruits that had been expected of it and that the lawyers had promised. Each felt himself governed, but no one could see that he governed others. The only ones to profit were a few gaudy Colors, who reestablished to their own advantage the tyrannies of the year before.
Instead of kings, they had Caesars. In default of Caesars, they submitted to tribunes. It was still, under a new form, oppression exercised by force. They consoled themselves by saying:
“Universal suffrage will not work properly until all shall be exactly represented in the government.”
Finally, however, after a long search for this miraculous representation, its formula was found. To the weakest of the shades belonged the glory of this discovery. It said:
“What is needed in order that I, for instance, the smallest minority of all, may be represented in the government, and thus feel myself at once governed and governing? Simply that each color shall dilute itself to my standard.”
“And what shade are you?” was asked.
It answered with proud modesty:
“An imperceptible gray, almost white.”
The incensed colors remonstrated pretending that they could not dilute themselves to that extent without losing their own character.
“Pardon me” replied the humble shade, “you can do so perfectly; and the proof of this is in the fact that, in consequence of innumerable crossings, I am a composite of you all, many as you are.”
They verified the fact. The shade was right.
Yes, all the shades, all the tones, all the Colors, were in this one, even the proudest, the most precious. Diluted, vague, furtive, annihilated! Yes, but all, really all!
There were all the reds,— vermilion, scarlet, carmine, madder, pink, geranium, sanguine, dragon’s blood, orange.
There were all the yellows,— Indian, cadmium, chrome, saffron, sulphur, gamboge, golden, ochre, nasturtium.
There were all the blues,— indigo, smalt, mineral, cobalt, ultramarine, Prussian, sky.
There were all the greeds,— emerald, Veronese, olive, vegetable, ashen, Venetian, bottle.
There were all the violets, all the purples, all the sepias, all the browns, all the siennas, all the lakes.
In short, the entire palette.
Yes, all these, and other shades besides, and the most inconceivable blended tints, all in this imperceptible gray, in this gray that was hardly gray, almost white without being white; in this indescribable dimness, of all colors and of no color, absolutely neutral.
They shouted with one contented voice:
“There is the elect!”
Universal suffrage had finally found its last expression, the incarnation of the ideal, the sole representative of the perfect government of all by all.
And ever since that day, in the country of Aquarelle, the Colors have been governed by that sort of watery and filthy thing composed of the rinsings of all washings and greatly resembling a lawyer’s spittle.
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.