“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
The final instalment of “The Rag-Picker of Paris,” unavoidably omitted from this issue, will appear in the next.
“Fair Play” is taking long strides in excellence. Enlarged and beautified, it steadily improves, much to my satisfaction.
Auberon Herbert’s new paper is expected to be ready soon. Its title will be “The Free Life.” I shall be glad to receive and forward subscriptions at the rate of $1.75 a year. It will be published weekly.
With this number Liberty enters upon its seventh volume. All who want bound copies of Volume VI. should send in their order, accompanied by two dollars. The volumes will soon be ready for delivery. The first and second volumes were exhausted long ago, and very few copies of the third and fourth are left.
Professor Huxley is working hard to burst an open door. He is criticising “Progress and Poverty” is a series of articles in the “Nineteenth Century,” apparently under the impression that Henry George is a person of some influence. The professor may desist from his labors: the man he challenges has been dead intellectually for some time, and the name of the champion who wounded him unto death is J. W. Sullivan.
The only direct knowledge that I have of Henrik Ibsen’s plays has been gained from reading “Rosmersholm” and witnessing a performance of “A Doll’s House,” and therefore I am unprepared to form a very decided opinion as to the validity of F. F. K.’s criticisms, printed in another column. But finding myself tending strongly to an agreement with some of them, and finding all of them very thought-provoking and well-put, I have ventured to set the article in editorial type.
“Waterman’s Journal” has rechristened itself “Today” and appears with a cover. It has recently made extended remarks upon Liberty. If I still neglect them, it is from lack of time and space, not from lack of courtesy. It is not my intention to disregard criticism from any intelligent man or journal. Only men like Henry George think they can afford to do this. I should have to add Mr. Pentecost also, if I did not hope that, having shaken off so much that his old master taught him, he will soon shake off this bad habit too.
The editor of “Freethought” observes: “Mr. Pentecost says that an Anarchist is ‘one who believes that money should be issued by anybody who can get his money accepted.’ Of course, but what would those do for a circulating medium who could not get their money accepted? Don’t the Anarchists believe in a coöperative currency, and if so, in what respect would it differ from that now in circulation?” The last question is unintelligible. Does the editor ask what the difference would be in principle, or does he mean the difference in the circulating medium? If the former, the answer is that we should have voluntary intelligent coöperation instead of forced and ignorant coöperation; if the latter, the answer is that the circulating medium would be safer and more abundant,— that gold would not be the sole basis of currency, and that interest on capital, which is the result of this unnatural monopoly, would disappear.
Moses Harman, the editor of “Lucifer,” has been arrested again for printing a letter which the Kansas authorities are pleased to pronounce obscene. I somehow missed the number that contained the letter, and so do not know whether the opinion of the authorities is well or ill founded. And furthermore I do not care. Obscene or not, it was Mr. Harman’s right to print it, and, even if I thought it obscene, I should not feel it necessary to foam at the mouth over the character of the letter, as Eugene Macdonald, editor of the “Truth-Seeker,” did, before proceeding to condemn the prosecution as the outrage that it undoubtedly is. But it seems to me, nevertheless, a proper time to say that, judging from all accounts of the letter, Mr. Harman’s act was a rash one, and that he has no business to be disappointed if Liberals do not rally to his defence. If is questionable whether determined and cool-headed men who are pushing a plan of campaign which they think the only one likely to succeed are called upon to endanger that plan of campaign and therefore their cause by sallying forth to the aid of every rash comrade who precipitates an ill-timed and misplaced conflict. Up to a certain point there is a chance to win the liberty of printing directly and on its merits; but the liberty to print the “Memoirs of Fanny Hill” (and I compare the letter published by Mr. Harman to this book only in the sense that it is so extreme that a jury would be almost certain to class it as obscene) will not be achieved until the sexual superstition has been pretty thoroughly uprooted,— a result that can follow only from the achievement of economic liberty. To precipitate a struggle on the issue of liberty to print the most extreme “obscenity,” and suffer defeat on it, would be to lay a foundation for more serious invasions of the liberty of printing that would be likely to interfere with the achievement of economic liberty.
The “Twentieth Century” recently printed an article by Victor Yarros, in which he very courteously criticised Helen Gardener. Miss Gardener followed with a reply. The first sentence of this reply was an absolute untruth, and in my judgment a deliberate one. (I am aware that this is not courteous criticism; Miss Gardener has forfeited claim to courtesy.) On the strength of this untruth she proceeded, in a tone of smart satire, to put Mr. Yarros entirely in the wrong in the eyes of any one not knowing it to be an untruth. The entire article was one of the most outrageous pieces of impertinence that I ever read. Satire founded upon truth I enjoy, but satire based on a lie I despise. Not in my brutal fashion, but in a much milder manner than the occasion demanded, Mr. Yarros made rejoinder. Mr. Pentecost, instead of printing this, embodied a few straggling sentences of it in an editorial paragraph. He thus was guilty of a distinctly invasive act. Of course an editor may reject any communication. But no editor may, without the writer’s consent, print in mutilated form a manuscript that has been entrusted to him. To make the matter worse, Mr. Pentecost added the following remarks: “These extracts, I think, give the kernel of Mr. Yarros’s reply, and I feel sure that he will pardon me for not printing it in full. Any intelligent reader now has the case as between Mr. Yarros and Miss Gardener before him. Both are valued contributors to this magazine, and will doubtless come to understand each other in time.” They evidently will not if Mr. Pentecost can help it. The latter’s motive is obvious. He was afraid of offending Miss Gardener. In fact, the editorial management of the “Twentieth Century” is beginning to betray that treading-on-eggs air which so often accompanies success. There is nothing like prosperity to kill certain forms of courage. The minute one gains anything, he fears to lose it. He who has nothing to lose fears nothing.
In the March “Nationalist” is begun the serial publication of Gronlund’s new “work,” “Our Destiny: the Influence of Nationalism on Morals and Religion.” The editor of the “Nationalist” says: “To those who have read the I coöperative Commonwealth’ and ‘Ca Ira,’ Laurence Gronlund needs no introduction. Those who have not we advise to do so as soon as possible and to follow from month to month in this magazine his latest and, according to his own belief, his best contribution to economic literature.” How a book treating of the influence of Nationalism on morals and religion is to be a contribution to economic literature, nobody but Gronlund could explain. “I shall contend,” writes Gronlund, “and, I believe, prove that the coming Nacionalist Commonwealth will evolve the most robust morals and also a unanimity of religious belief [we may anticipate great fun, dear reader, may we not?].... I hold that, though it is perhaps a fact that a majority of those who are called Socialists are avowed Atheists, yet Atheism is not an integral part of Socialism...Such are Atheists, not because they are Socialists, but because they are Frenchmen and Germans.” But what about American, English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, and other Atheistic Socialists? And, if these are to be cured of their Atheism by Nationalistic medicine, why cannot Germans and Frenchmen also be so cured? On the other hand, if the latter’s case is hopeless, how can there be “unanimity in religious beliefs”? Or will Nationalism exterminate them entirely? If so, the Gronlund-ian conception of “robust morality” will be regarded as somewhat queer by most people. However, these little difficulties will doubtless be solved in due time. Meanwhile, it is certain that “throughout our country there is a moral awakening and a deepening ferment. What a proud distinction for our American civilization would it be — compared with that of Europe — if some of the leaders of intellect and conscience among us would place themselves at the head of the new social crusade”! But these leaders must be filled and fired with enthusiasm and devotion, they must have a sublime ideal to work for, and “to present this ideal is my present task and honor,” modestly whispers Gronlund, adding, in an almost inaudible tone, “I believe I have the qualification for making this effort.” So the new social crusade needs the aid of our leaders of intellect and conscience, who, in turn, need a leader in possession of an ideal, and Gronlund generously assumes the function of leading the leaders of the leading portion of American society. At one time Gronlund was suspected of fancying himself a modern Danton; but that is not his present ambition. He looks still higher.... Is he not another Son of God on earth, a messiah come to save the world? Who knows? Ah, if this should prove to be true, “what a proud distinction for our American civilization it would be!”
The Principles of Lynch Law.
To the Editor of Liberty:
We sometimes do well to learn from the enemy. Here is what W. Pickard said on the Eight-hours question at the Miners’ Conference at Birmingham some weeks since. Somebody had pointed out that the Union could themselves force short hours upon the employers, if need be, without calling upon the legislature. “If,” he replied, “no bad result is to follow trades-union effort, how is it possible for a bad result to follow the same arrangement brought about by legislation?” Commenting on this with approval, “Justice” (the organ of the Social Democratic Federation), says: “This is a question which Mr. John Morley and the rest of the politicians who prate about the need for shorter working hours, while opposing the penalizing of overwork, should set themselves to answer. Obviously there is no answer that will justify their position. If the limitation of the hours of labor is wrong in principle, and mischievous, harmful, and destructive of our national prosperity, it is just as much so whether effected by trade-union effort or by legislation.”
There is a soul of truth in this. Of course we may point out firstly, that the passing of a bill for the purpose is no proof that the majority of the persons primarily affected really desire it, whereas the enforcement of the system by trade-unionism is strong evidence that they do; and secondly, that the legislature cannot effect these objects without simultaneously creating greater evils owing to the necessary operation of State machinery. But I venture to say that the central truth of Pickard’s remark lies a good deal deeper than this. I think we individualists are apt to fix our eyes too exclusively upon the State. Doubtless it is the greatest transgressor. But after all, when analyzed, it is only a combination of numerous persons in a certain area claiming to dictate to others in the same area what they shall do and what they shall not do. These numerous persons we call the effective majority. It is precisely in the position of a cricket-club or a religious corporation or any other combination of men bound together by rules. At the present moment in this country the Bishop of Lincoln is being persecuted by the majority of his co-religionists because he lights candles when they are not wanted and performs other trifling antics. I would ask the Church of England whether, in its own interest,— in the interest of the effective majority of its own members,— it would not be wiser to repeal these socialistic rules which forbid practices perfectly harmless in themselves. Last year there was a cause célebre tried before the Jockey Club. Quite apart from the outside Interference of the State, this Club can and does sanction its own laws most effectively. It can ruin any trainer or jockey whenever it chooses,— that is to say, whenever he violates the laws it has made. These laws fortunately are about as good as human nature is capable of, and those who suffer under them richly deserve their fate. But it might be otherwise. And even in this exemplary code, there is an element of despotism which, I submit, might be dispensed with. A jockey must not be an owner. Very good; the object is clear, and the intention is excellent. Of course a jockey ought not to expose himself to the temptation of riding another man’s horse so as to conduce to the success of his own. No honorable man would yield to the temptation. On the other hand, few owners would push a jockey whose horse was entered for the same race. Now I venture to submit that It would be better to leave the matter entirely to the jockey’s own choice, and to reserve the penalty for the occasion where there is convincing evidence that the jockey has abused his trust. A jockey charged with pulling, and afterwards found to have been interested as owner or part-owner or backer of another horse in the same race, would then be dealt with under the jockey-club law: not before. I would strongly advise a jockey to keep clear of ownership and even of betting (on any race in which his services are engaged), but I would not make an offence out of that which in itself Is not an offence, but which merely opens the door to temptation.
This has nothing whatever to do with the State or with State-law. It is entirely a question of what may broadly-speaking, be called Lynch Law. I have recently examined the Rules of some of the principal London clubs, and I find that they are, many of them, largely socialistic. Unless I am a member, I do not complain. I merely ask whether the members themselves would not do wisely to widen their liberties. On the committee of a club to which I belong, we had a long and stormy discussion as to whether billiards should be permitted on Sundays. In nineteen out of twenty clubs it is disallowed. The individualists predominated, and the result is that those who do not want to play can refrain; they are not compelled to play. Those who wish to play are not compelled to refrain.
I can imagine a people with the State reduced to a shadow,— a government attenuated to the administration of a very tolerant criminal code,— and yet so deeply imbued with socialism in all their minor combinations as to be a nation of petty despots: a country where every social clique enforces its own notions of Mrs. Grundy’s laws, where every club tyrannizes over its own members, fixing the politics and religion of members, limits of stakes, the hour of closing, and a countless variety of other matters. There is a club in London where no meat is served on Fridays. There are several in which card-players are limited to half-crown points. There are many more where one card game is permitted and another prohibited. Whist is allowed at the Carlton, but not poker. A well-known individual was the other day expelled from a certain sporting club for using coarse language outside the premises. Then again the etiquette of the professions is in many cases more irksome and despotic than the law of the land. Medical men have been boycotted for accepting small fees from impecunious patients. A barrister who should accept a brief from a client without the intermediary expense of a solicitor would sink to swim no more: although the solicitor’s services might be absolutely worthless. Consider also the rules of trade-unions. I need not go into these. The freedom, not only of voluntary members, but of citizens outside the ring, is utterly trampled under foot. And this brings us back to Mr. Pickard and the soul of truth in his argument. I affirm that a people might utterly abolish and extirpate the State, and yet remain steeped to the lips in socialism of the most revolting type. And I think, as I have said, it is time for those of us who value freedom and detest despotism, from whatever quarter it emanates, to ask ourselves what are the true principles of Lynch Law. Suppose, for example, there was no State to appeal to for protection against a powerful ruffian, what should I do? Most certainly I should combine with others no stronger than myself and overpower the ruffian by superior brute-force. Ought I to do this? Ought I not rather to allow the survival of the fittest to improve the physique of the race,— even at my expense? If not, then ought I to combine with others against the freedom of the sly pickpocket, who, through his superior dexterity and agility and cool courage, prevails over me, and appropriates my watch, without any exercise of brute-force? Are not these qualities useful to the race? Then why should I conspire with others against the harmless sneak who puts chicory into his coffee? If I do not like his coffee, I can go and buy somebody else’s coffee. If he likes to offer me stone for bread at four-pence a pound and if I am fool enough to take it at the price, I shall learn to be wiser in future, or else I shall perish of starvation and rid the race of a fool.
Now, sir, I want you to open your columns to a discussion on the proper limits of Lynch law,— the principles of voluntary combination. Suppose the State to be abolished altogether, on what occasions would a number of philosophic Anarchists combine together to resist the superior force of another? I do not think Anarchists have given sufficient attention to this branch of the inquiry.
[I am in receipt of a second article from Mr. Donisthorpe, which further elaborates the thought expressed above. I shall print it in the next issue, and at the same time comment on both articles,— Editor Liberty.]
Dear Comrade Tucker:
I heartily enjoyed your reply to me in No. 155. I always admired your sword-play, considered as a spectacle. You lift your voice to a mighty pitch of exultant emphasis over my gladness at having stung you, but wherein is such gladness an “obvious and complete denial of my position”? If, in defence of one friend, it is necessary to slap another friend, need I be sorry, have I not a right to be glad, that the sting of the blow is sufficient to effect its purpose? If the blow is so delicately delivered that it effects its purpose and yet seems an “unreality,” that is still further cause for gladness. You must remember that I do not altogether endorse your doctrine that, when a blow is to be struck, it is best to strike it with all one’s force. On the contrary, I am always endeavoring to reduce combative action, and therefore reaction, to its lowest terms, and to its most indirect manifestations compatible with straightforward honesty. The athlete who uses just the force necessary to wrestle down his opponent, and no more, is not only athletic, but elegant. By so doing he wastes none of his own strength, inflicts the minimum of injury on the man overthrown, and invariably elicits more admiration and applause than the furious Berserker. I hold it self-evident that it is better to knock a man down than to knock his whole head off, that a word is better than a blow, and that an argument is preferable to an epithet,— provided the milder means is equally effective. In morals as in medicine I hold it to be truly scientific to employ always the mildest agent that can be made effectively remedial. I believe in resistance; I have always endorsed resistance; eternal resistance is the price of growth and progress; but the true order of resistance is resistance on a higher plane, or at least on the same plane as that of the injury. Resistance on a lower plane means always to score a self-defeat. All that advocates of so-called non-resistance mean, unless they mean base submission, is resistance on a higher plane. “Passive resistance” is an illustration of such resistance.
You profess to convict me of reasoning in a circle, but I merely told you what I should do if you demonstrated certain things which I deemed impossible.
Expressly disclaiming such an honor as the self-derivation and sole appreciation of the best spirit of the age, I pointed to an element in society which incarnated it, and then pointed to its representatives as tile “superiors” for whom you called.
I did not point, nor did you ask me to point, to superior artists, poets, or economists, but to men superior as “civilized writers and representatives of the age.”
Civilization is the harmony of humanity, is it not? The best spirit of the age is the spirit that best promotes this harmony, is it not?
Now I claim, with no fear of successful refutation, that the discovery and teaching of truth is the best means yet discovered to civilize mankind.
Centuries of battle leave the world as they found it, anguished and bleeding, but every discovered truth at once liberates and harmonizes man. When a man lays aside all struggle with his fellows, and presses on in the quest of pure truth, all men cease their bickerings and gaze upon him as an army might gaze upon a champion. His example fires all hearts, all are united by a common interest and joy in his successes.
In spite of its faults, this is peculiarly an age of devotion to the discovery of exact truth; therefore it is an age in which man is liberated and harmonized as never before; therefore its best spirit, its peculiar spirit, is the impartial, impersonal, dispassionate search for truth, and its most truly “civilized writers and best representatives” are those who, like Darwin, Emerson, and Spencer, have devoted themselves most singly and successfully to its peculiar work.
Darwin! — it makes my blood tingle to think how the bulwarks of superstition crumbled and fell at the dissolving touch of that gentle wonderful mind. And how the unspoken curse remained forgotten on the lips of those who watched those searching, triumphant eyes, that gazed never at them, but always beyond into the mysterious spheres of the unknown.
The teachers of evolution, making little or no iconoclastic attack upon the creeds, ignoring them mainly, but simply revealing the central truths of universal action, did more in a decade or two to reduce them to shadows than all the derision, satire, and fierce attacks of all the sceptics from the beginning of time.
There is no solvent that can for a moment equal truth, no antiseptic to match simple facts. Clutch the great weight with naked arms, and brawn and sweat avail little; place a lever intelligently under it, and it is moved easily and gracefully.
You speak of the gentleness bred in the cloister — it is true, but the gods need not to rage or frown. Lachesis can afford to smile, as distaff in hand, she plays with delicate fingers with the thread of human destinies. The scholar of the cloister only loses dignity and force if he ruffles his temper or bandies epithets with the mob. For he is the oracle, the interpreter of the universe, the agent of the invisible, invincible forces, and the thought currents that flow through him mould the nations like wax. He is the priest of nature, the window of the sun; shall he be disturbed? The men of the cloister, as we call them,— the single-minded searchers for the apparently impractical and abstract truths,— are, after all, the most direct, useful, and practical of men; they are the power of the workers, the teachers of the teachers, the leaders of the leaders, and their battles, though silent, are the most tremendous, and their victories, though hardly recognized, the most lasting and overwhelming of all beneath the sun.
Swinburne, you say, complained of Carlyle because the censures of the latter were undeserved. Partly so, perhaps; but Carlyle no doubt thought them deserved. Nevertheless their bitterness has poisoned our memory of him for all time. All men think of him as “the stormy sophist” and “the lip that stung.” You also, in all honesty, think your censures deserved, but others do not agree with you, and the majority will condemn you as severely, and for the same reason, as Swinburne condemns Carlyle. This whole sad habit of leaving the intellectual argument to attack the personal reputation is a wasteful, irritating friction, distraction, and stumbling-block, stirring up passion and prejudice, blind, stupid, stubborn, where receptive thought and impartial judgment are most demanded.
I have been much edified since I first began to read Liberty, with watching a certain amusing Sequence of phenomena. Each new comer was received with a trumpet-flourish of welcome and encouragement, but the editorial eye was upon him, and, though kind, was vigilant and without weakness of indulgence. Sooner or later that which was looked for was always found, and symptoms of defection invariably developed. The falling comrade was brought up each time with a round turn, prompt and pitiless as a law of nature. This process was repeated with accelerating frequency until the unfortunate one fell entirely away into the outer darkness, and his place knew him no more.
My observations have satisfied me that there is a kind of fate or necessity about this,— something as certain as death and taxes. Therefore with almost editorial acumen I have watched expectantly for the evidences of a falling-from-grace in my own case, and not in vain. There is no dodging one’s destiny.
The first morbid symptom, I believe, was the espousal of the do-good-and-you’ll-be-happy doctrine. In spite of the vigor and promptness of my physicians, or perhaps because of their diagnostic skill, other alarming symptoms now rapidly supervened, or were discovered, and I was successively bulletined as sick of “truisms,” “folly,” “sentimentality,” “rights,” the “favorite dodge of asserting myself misunderstood” (just what I was to do when misunderstood except to mention it, was, I believe, not stated, but it was probably unnecessary), “communism,” “taking no pains to get at real meanings,” “distortion of utterances,” etc., etc. Now that frequent symptoms of illogic have developed, I may be fairly considered as in the last stages of a galloping decline. My indifference and serenity under all this is undoubtedly the worst sign of all.
Appleton is gone, Lum is gone, Lazarus is gone, Gertrude and John Kelly have passed away, Walker and Harman have been very, very sick. Is it my turn next?
“While there’s life, there’s hope.”
Still your comrade, J. Wm. Lloyd.
“Follow your logic out,” says Voltairine de Cleyre, “can you not see that true economy lies in liberty?” Ah! when will they see, and why do they fail to see, a principle of which the whole course of civilization has been a continued demonstration? Is it not because man’s logic from the beginning has had for its major premise a falsehood? In turning back the pages of my humble history, I find I very early came to the conclusion that, if certain things were true, certain other things must of necessity follow. I was taught that the world and all it contained was created by a being infinite in wisdom, power, and goodness. And I said man’s free will is impossible: with an infinite being foreordination and foreknowledge are synonymous. And when I dwelt on the “miseries of man” and the tendency of things to go wrong in general, just how infinite goodness could have arranged it I was at a loss to know. A screw seemed loose somewhere. I could entertain no other belief; surely creation required infinite wisdom and power, and was it possible that such could be devoid of goodness? I had never received any religious training in particular. Our folks were Univerealists from “way back.” Still I was impressed with the belief that morality depended upon religion, that infidelity led to vice and crime. I remember how the assertion of our orthodox friends that Universalism was a species of infidelity or a step in that direction bothered me, and hence I was the more bitter against men of Ingersoll’s stamp; and, as for the advocate of free love, I thought hanging was too good for him. When I read in one of our daily papers of a certain S. P. Andrews welcoming home a convict from Auburn penitentiary — who had been arrested for scattering obscene literature — with language of such a vile nature that many ladies whose love of freethought had not carried them beyond decency left the hall, I wondered at such depravity. Now it happened that a sister of mine, the wife of a western postmaster, was in the habit of sending me the sample copies of papers sent to the office, and so it was that a copy of Dr. Foote’s “Health Monthly” came into my possession, containing a notice of this very meeting and advising its readers to purchase a copy of the New York “Truth Seeker” containing a full account. Of course a different aspect was given the affair. My curiosity was aroused. I sent for a copy; I read Mr. Andrews’s address; I saw that in his zeal for religion our daily editor had colored his account. Free thought was antagonistic to religion; any obloquy he could throw upon its advocates would be a credit to the Lord. But I saw something in the infidel paper that more powerfully arrested my attention,— an essay on the philosophy of evolution. I was more than interested. I sent for various pamphlets on the subject, and sat down to an investigation of its merits. It took me some time, but I finally arose, if not as elated, certainly as convinced as the old philosopher who sprang from his bath tub and ran naked through the streets shouting “Eureka! Eureka!” I had found it,— an answer to the problems of the universe. And I said: There is no God; matter, force, and law (or necessity) being the all-in-all. There is no power “to temper the wind to the shorn lamb”; the lamb must become adapted to the winds, or die. “The miseries of man” are not designed for some wise end, but are the effect of certain causes which his intelligence may study and reform or abolish. And religion, being the result of ignorance, has played a prominent part in those causes. I had no use for religion now, except as a sign over a dangerous quagmire. My standard of morality now I labeled utility. And in the new light I turned to political economy. If my worthy sire had been careless with my religious training, he had never missed an opportunity to impress upon my mind the importance of voting the straight Republican ticket. I remember how grieved he was on one occasion when I substituted the name of a Democrat for one of his candidates, and how he argued that a bad man on a good ticket was preferable to a good man on a bad ticket. While I believed our party was all right and the Democratic party all wrong, still I could see no other way of entering my protest against the nomination of a drunkard and a gambler. But he was popular in his district, and father felt confident of his election, despite such quixotic notions as mine; and the election proved the truth of his prediction. The lesson impressed upon my mind was that our party was Dot infallible. But the true inwardness of the g. o. p. was brought out when my sympathy led me to believe in temperance legislation and we sought to obtain the aid of the party of “great moral ideas.” Their fast-and-loose game soon sent me into the prohibition party, but, alas! I soon found that political trickery was not confined to the old parties, but met me here, not only subordinating principle to party success, but showing a dearth of sympathy for the struggling mass of humanity. And I dropped out of the ranks, even while believing prohibition necessary.
Then the “Greenback craze” interested me, and in studying the financial question I was brought to see that drunkenness was the result of poverty, and as long as the inequality existed between capital and labor, poverty, vice, and crime would result, and prohibitory legislation was an aggravation rather than a remedy. To remove the inequality by destroying the special privileges granted wealth seemed to me the true solution, and I turned to the labor party. I soon found that it was not equality that this party wanted, but special privileges for its own members. I looked into the “single tax” idea; would this do it? No; the advantages of wealth would remain. I left politics, determined never to associate with another party, unless it was a party of repeal.
Then came the new light. I had about concluded that “God meant it unto good” perhaps, and my duty in the premises was not clear. As “the superhuman deity fades slowly away from before us, we perceive with greater clearness the shape of a grander and nobler figure — of him who made all gods and shall unmake them.” Man was not made to mourn, but owing to those laws so essential in bringing out and developing the strong and the capable, “the struggle for existence” and “the survival of the fittest” result in “proud man dressed in brief authority” and the many slavish poor. I had looked upon competition as holding the nose of humanity to the grindstone of fate, spoiling its beauty and demoralizing its soul, while monopoly was slowly but surely drawing to itself the wealth of the world. Then the motherly face of Communism beamed upon me; the gospel of plenty and brotherly love charmed me. But when I turned from the
Cold dull strife that makes men mad,
The tug for wealth and power,
and engaged in a search for the causes and certain principles governing those causes, saying to prejudice, “Get thee behind me, Satan,” I was soon convinced that the evil was not in competition itself, but in that power which shaped competition and made it the fierce struggle so unequal. Special privilege it was that “made countless thousands mourn.” Competition freed from this would be a blessing. Competition is but the cat’s paw by which the monkey, monopoly, gets the chestnuts out of the fire. Love and sympathy did not prevent me from seeing that there was a greater evil than poverty,— dependence,— and it seemed to me the principle was the same, whether the power that made one dependent emanated from the State. Is monopoly any less monopoly when called government? Is not monopoly the child of privilege? And is not privilege the very essence of the State? The more I dwelt on political economy, the more inconsistent it appeared. Everywhere men seemed striving to abate one evil by establishing another. I followed Herbert Spencer in his genesis of government, and found it conceived of man’s endeavor to plunder and enslave. The robber and the pirate have travelled down the ages donning the garb of respectability, and now pose as the sovereigns of the State. Is he any the less a robber who presents his warrant of the State demanding my money, than the highwayman who presents a loaded pistol? Every action accounted wrong between man and man becomes a virtue in the State.
That’s in the Captain but a choleric word
Which in the soldier’s flat blasphemy.
What are you going to do about it? “Is there no balm in Gilead?” Every prescription I had examined was but a different mixture of the same compound, Invasion. Shall we fight the Devil with his own weapons? What makes him Devil but his weapons? I had heard of Anarchy,— the no government idea,— and read some of its literature, but I was unfortunate in the selection. I got the popular idea expressed by Ingersoll,— a reaction from tyranny. I could see that the evils of society might be traced to government as their fountain head. But to abolish government as an evil in itself and fly to others we know not of,— I hesitated. And thus I stood, “letting I-dare-not wait upon I would,” when there came to me a newspaper article credited to Liberty, Boston, Mass. A new idea was suggested. I sent for a sample copy. I became a subscriber, and carefully studied what Liberty taught,— passive resistance. Gradually, one by one, the seeming necessities for government disappeared. I could see how the citizen grown strong in self-reliance was perfectly able to take care of himself, and it needed no figures to tell me the vast amount of wealth that would be thus saved. And I could see how even a comparatively few, by “pooling their issues” in friendly coöperation, pursuing self-interest, would be able to get and hold their own, asking no favors of any power, and, by quietly ignoring the existence of government, successfully resist its invasions. And I said, passive resistance means a quiet determination to mind one’s own business. But I learned another truth,— that liberty was something more than a name. Again I could have shouted “Eureka!” As Archimedes discovered in water a principle whereby he could determine the pure metal in Hiero’s crown, I had found in liberty a principle governing the right action of men. Liberty eulogized by sages and sung by poets, but always shouted in the interest of some particular line of thought. All reformers from Martin Luther down have placed it on their banners, but never advocated it. They simply demand it to promulgate the “truth.” The “truth” and nothing but the “truth” should be free. Thus every school or individual idea claims for itself the right of thought and action. Still liberty has had no basic meaning such as other words have that are used in reference to the actions of men. It always has depended and always must depend upou individual interpretation. Here is where the grand philosophy of Anarchism comes in. It regards the individual as supreme. It stands upon the predicate that “all men are born free and equal.” The right of authority over his fellows is vested in none. And Anarchy is the proper word. It took me some time to find that out, for Webster said it meant confusion, “and Webster was an honorable man.” But with this principle of liberty a new aspect was given things. Absence of government was no longer synonymous with confusion. True order and harmony are found in Liberty alone. Confusion results from contending forces, chiefs, and rulers. I saw clearly that, as there was but one meaning,— absence of all authority,— there could be but one form of Anarchism. As authority is only possible by the aid of force, Anarchism rejects all force that would enforce or coerce. As liberty is only possible by an absence of invasion or aggression, Anarchism rejects all invasion or aggression. It is in vain for the revolutionist who hopes by force of ballots or bullets to abolish government to call himself an Anarchist, for, whatever he may become, he is now the enemy and not the friend of Anarchy. It is not the end hoped for, but the means employed that makes the Anarchist. Employing the forces of slavery to gain liberty is a delusion. To call such an Anarchist is like calling a lamb’s tail a leg. It may in the course of evolution develop into a leg, but there is no practical benefit in calling it a leg now. “Follow your logic out.” Horace Greeley struck the true chord when he showed the uselessness of law and lawyers in the collection of debts. Had he but followed his logic out, it would have proved “that true economy lies in liberty.” To paraphrase Tupper:
I follow economy through the world
And find her home in Anarchy.
A. L. Ballou.
[E. C. Walker in Fair Play.]
The “straight” Anarchists are zealous and aggressive and are supported by a class of middlemen who are very anxious to make it appear that these “straight” people, who come upon the scene armed cap a pie with exceptions to the law of equal freedom, are the genuine, the only original, libertarians, the only true Anarchists. The “straights” affirm the unlimited rights of the individual as against the encroachments of legal governments; be may judge these with all the severity of justice, condemn, cripple, and eliminate them, and no word of censure will he earn. But let the burglar enter his house and bear away his earnings; let the band of horse-thieves steal the power that draws the plough through the soil of his homestead; let the footpad waylay and pound him into insensibility, and he has no redress; he must meekly bow his head and humbly murmur: “Thy wills be done, O burglar, O horse-thieves, O footpad! If you were only combined as minions of a legal government, if you were only official individuals, I could defend myself against you and do no violence to the law of equal freedom; but, as you steal from and abuse me in your capacity as unofficial individuals, or voluntary associations of such individuals, I am powerless. If I pursue you, or combine with my neighbors to pursue you, and arrest you, and compel you to return to me that which is mine and to recompense me for the bodily injuries which I received at your hands, I shall judge and condemn you, and exercise government over you, and that I roust not do, for are you not, forsooth, free individuals, whose liberty is unconditioned? Of course you can judge and condemn me and exercise government over me, by stealing my wages and maiming my body, but then you are criminals whose unconditioned liberty permits you to invade my unconditioned liberty, while I am only a poor, non-invasive devil whose unconditioned liberty forbids him to defend himself against your invasions thereof, for such defence would be government! You readily perceive, of course, that, when you invade me, you are simply exercising your right of unconditioned liberty of action, but, should I venture to defend myself against your invasion of my unconditioned liberty of action, I should become an invader, should be exercising government over you! When you were official thieves and murderers, you were sacred, no one dared resist you in the practice of your crimes. Now you are equally infallible; as unofficial thieves and murderers we dare not defend ourselves against you; if we do, we shall violate the law of equal, unconditioned, freedom,— at least so the ‘straights’ solemnly inform us. Verily, verily, the criminal, that is, the invader, has a nice enough world to live in, from his point of view, at all events.”
“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.
Individualism and Political Economy.*
These are certainly critical and trying times for the political economists. The “science” of political economy is on trial, and the fate of its professors is being decided. Will the verdict mean life or death,— independent and fruitful existence, or complete disappearance from the leaves of the book of future intellectual progress? Will the political economists find their occupation gone, or will their occupation acquire new importance, value, and dignity?
Before attempting to advance a conjecture regarding the probable result of the trial, or to indicate the methods and tactics whose adoption would, in my opinion, tend to dispose the judges favorably toward the defendants and lay the foundation for their triumphant vindication, I must satisfy the legitimate demand of the reader for a more or less conclusive demonstration of the statement which constitutes my starting point,— of the harmony between my conception and the real facts.
Shortly after the publication of Ricardo’s volume, De Quincey, certainly a very keen and deep thinker, wrote: “Mr. Ricardo had deduced a priori, from the understanding itself, laws which first gave a ray of light into the unwieldy mass of materials, and had constructed what had been but a collection of tentative discussion into a science of regular proportions, now first standing on an eternal basis.”
To Col. Torrens, writing at about the same period, it seemed perfectly certain that “twenty years hence there will scarcely be a doubt respecting any of the fundamental principles” of political economy, as it was then expounded by the authorities.
And we can well understand the ground for this hopeful view when we bear in mind that, in the words of Cairnes, “the economist, starting with a knowledge of ultimate causes” is “at the outset of his enterprise at the position which a physicist only attains after ages of laborious research”; or that, as Senior, who proclaimed that “political economy is independent of facts,” believed, the whole science, held by Cobden to be the highest study of the human mind, is firmly built on four practically self-evident propositions. Unless one disputed the premises (and since they were deemed axiomatic, such a contingency was of course unthinkable), there was no possibility of rejecting the logical conclusions.
In a word, it was then believed that there existed a science of wealth whose laws, universal and immutable, men had only to learn and obey,— a science in whose name various and numerous theoretical and practical proposals or conceptions were scornfully and unhesitatingly dismissed as utopian and absurd. Nothing that emanated from sources other than those recognized and authorized by the professors of political economy, especially if it in any wise diverged from some accepted economic doctrine, was considered worthy of the attention of scientific minds.
But all this appears like ancient history when we turn to survey the present condition of economic discussion. I purposely say discussion, and not science, for it is generally agreed that there is really no such thing as a science of political economy. “Young men ask,” says Walter Bagehot, “whether this science, as it claims to be, will harmonize with what we now know to be sciences, or bear to be tried as we now try sciences; and they are not sure of the answer.... We find the state of the science to be almost chaotic.” Arnold Toynbee bluntly declared that Ricardian political economy “is at last rejected as an intellectual imposture,” to the great delight of the general public; as even Jevons felt and reluctantly admitted that the public “would be happier in their minds for a little time, if political economy could be shown up as an imposture.” Professor Cairnes complained that only from six to ten students attended his lectures, while in all London no more than a hundred persons visited the public economic schools. Alfred Marshall confesses that “economics is yet so much in its infancy that it has but little to teach.” And even that “little” is so little respected by the British Association that in 1876 an active attempt was made by the representatives of the preliminary sciences to excommunicate the economists and abolish the Economic Section, as no better (to quote P. Geddes) than a disgrace to a scientific association. And this humiliation was averted, or delayed rather, only by the poor economists choosing as champions men who, though ostensibly eager to save the independence of their group, actually (to quote the same author) “unconditionally surrender the citadel” and even “take up arms on the side of the invaders.”
Should it now be asked, What has brought about this radical change, and what has caused the high to fall so low? the answer must be that many direct and indirect, sudden and slow, influences have contributed to the effect. Toynbee was wrong when he described it entirely as the result of the “chill breath of intellectual criticism”; and the other, latter-day economists of the so-called historical school, who attribute the change to the “discovery of the importance of supplementing and guiding deduction by induction,” also fail to furnish a true explanation. This, as Marshall says, was well known before; and he opines that the change is not “chiefly attributable to any particular attacks that have been made on economic doctrine,” but “is due to the discovery that man himself is in a great measure a creature of circumstances and changes with them.” He thinks that Ricardo and his followers “regarded man as, so to speak, a fixed quantity, and gave themselves little trouble to study his variations,” but that “in different ways Goethe, Hegel, Comte, and other writers called attention to the development of the inner character and outward institutions of man, and worked their way towards the notion of tracing and comparing the modes of growth of the different sides of human nature.”
Lecky, in his “History of the Rise and Fall of Rationalism,” has some luminous observations in reference to the process by which popular beliefs get driven out of circulation and are supplanted by new ones radically different. Any complete change in public opinion, according to him, may be ascribed to one or other of two causes. “It may be the result of a controversy which has conclusively settled the question, establishing to the satisfaction of all parties a clear preponderance of argument or fact in favor of one opinion, and making that opinion a truism which is accepted by all enlightened men.” And “it is possible also for it to be effected by what is called the spirit of the age. The general intellectual tendencies pervading the literature of a century profoundly modify the character of the public mind. They form a new tone and habit of thought. They create new attractions and new antipathies, and they eventually cause as absolute a rejection of certain old opinions as could be produced by the most cogent and definite arguments.”
In the case of political economy, by which Lecky himself, as well as Buckle, was often imposed upon, the truth doubtless is that both “classes of influences” were brought to bear and called into play. No one of the causes pointed out by the economists above quoted could have proved individually adequate, but each assuredly operated and helped to produce the astonishing result.
The theological and philosophical doctrines which Smith and Malthus explicitly adopted and laid at the foundation of their economic structure, and which Ricardo tacitly assumed, could not fail to be contemptuously thrown aside as puerile and utterly unfounded when the application of scientific methods to sociological problems began to yield conclusions respecting social existence and growth as absolutely incompatible with the physiocratic assumptions borrowed by Smith as is biological science with the belief in a personal and benevolent creator. The economists’ plea for laissez faire necessarily came to be regarded as the result of an optimism no less innocent than Dr. Pangloss’s conviction that everything is for the best in this best of possible worlds; and with the destruction of this corner-stone was involved the total collapse of the system recognizing Smith as its father. The four propositions which Senior thought unchallengeable were easily disposed of by Cliffe Leslie and Ruskin, leaving the economists practically without a single safe postulate. Then, referring to special vital parts of the body of old economic doctrine, we see that even the so-called Ricardian theory of rent is now frankly repudiated by such a careful investigator as Thorold Rogers, while the no less distinguished Professor Nicholson pronounces it to be of no practical utility whatever. The Malthusian theory of population, once so widely accepted and so firmly believed in, is now so shorn of importance and value that students are recommended to follow Dr. Ingram in his almost disrespectful estimate of Malthus and his claims. We also well understand that no one is really misled by the ridiculously weak apologies for interest which economists patiently frame: Ruskin and Socialist writers have had no difficulty in exposing their lack of substance and force. Light has been shed on the question of profits, and it is no longer possible to contradict Ruskin’s assertion that in exchange there can be no profit, but only in labor.
And so, commencing with the introductory part of a popular economic text-book of the pre-revolutionary period (say, Mill’s Political Economy), we might go on, taking up chapter after chapter, enumerating exploded theories and discredited conclusions till the very last page of the book. There is scarcely one undisputed conclusion left to testify to and recall the glories of the first days of English political economy. Bagehot endeavored to preserve at least the skeleton of the doomed system, and, by limiting and restricting it in every direction, to gain for it the consideration usually accorded to abstractions capable of indirect guidance in the actual needs and difficulties of life. We were told in the first place that “political economists are not speaking of real men, but of imaginary ones; not of men as we see them, but of men as it is convenient to us to suppose they are.” In the next place, instead of the original claim to universality-and immutability, the modest statement was made that English political economy “is the theory of commerce, as commerce tends more and more to become when capital increases and competition grows”; and, not entirely sure of a favorable reception of even this statement, Bagehot proceeded to demonstrate the postulates of his reformed theory. Finally, we were warned against the unwarrantable suspicion that political economy aspires to regulate practical relations and to solve real problems arising in the world of material interest It only “says these and these forces produce these and these results, and there it stops.”
Unfortunately these are vain efforts. To say nothing of the obvious objection that such an abstract political economy as this, which advises no one and aids no one in practical questions, would be worse than useless, it is sufficient to point out that Bagehot had not the insight and the logical power requisite to a proper comprehension of the forces and results alluded to. He, in all probability, would have desisted from his labor, if he had known of the unexpected “results” which an elaborate inquiry into the operation of the “forces” constituting the present usurious system revealed to the gaze of Proudhon, Marx, or the Fabian Socialists.
Such being the present condition of political economy, let us turn to its future prospects. I am aware that certain individuals, extremely ignorant of the rise and fall of economic doctrine, are fond of extolling what they style the new political economy. But everything is new to those who are in a state of nature intellectually. And I am confident that you will not expect me to deal seriously with the crudities and sophistry and misconceptions of Henry George or George Gunton. Perhaps the very fact of their appearance in the rôle of economists is the most striking evidence of the hopelessly confused and degraded condition of economics. It is hardly necessary to mention the so-called mathematical school of economics. They have produced nothing, and nobody seems to count upon their ever achieving any valuable result. The economists are perplexed, and find themselves forced to abandon the old doctrines altogether, and to enlist in the army of their old-time antagonists, the advocates of government control of industry and commerce. For it is no secret that the strength which the collectivists or State Socialists have acquired lately is mainly derived from the patent tendency on the part of economists and professors to sacrifice liberty to what they conceive to be the welfare of the body politic. Unwilling to expose themselves to ridicule, the latter decline to defend private enterprise and free competition, which they know the founders of political economy rested on teleological assumptions no longer tolerated in scientific circles. They do indeed hope to continue in the exercise of their present functions, not perceiving that their conversion must lead to the loss of independence. But those not immediately concerned can see clearly that this issue is inevitable. Collectivism is an unskilful compromise, a timid half-measure, neither theoretically defensible nor practically possible. The real alternative is Bellamy communism, with absolute equality of wages and complete suppression of individuality. Exchange is superseded by common ownership, free contract by enforced love. Political economy is abolished; the government bureau of statistics takes its place. The essential beauty of the principle, “To each according to his needs, from each according to his capacities,” lies in its admirable simplicity. All friction, controversy, dispute are at an end. Society works with clock-like regularity.
Cairnes, by the way, overlooked this correct consideration when he claimed that “political economy would Continue to exist under any conceivable system of social organization,” though it should be stated in partial mitigation of his sin that he wrote at a time when our poor social world journeyed without the pillar of fire by night and that of smoke and cloud by day which the transcendent genius of Edward Bellamy alone was equal to the task of creating (out of nothing) for our everlasting felicity.
Now, having seen the ultimate of political economy in the hands of those of its present professors who, having found themselves unable to support the basic assumptions of Smith and Ricardo, decided to drop them and walk over into the camp of the restrictionists and State Socialists, let us turn round and enquire if there are not among economists wiser and more perspicacious men who know how to avoid the follies of the orthodox school without jumping into the dangers of communism. And there certainly seem to be such. Not to mention any others, Leslie, Toynbee, and Ingram appear to stand on solid ground and to suggest very rational measures for the elevation and advancement of economics. They argue that political economy properly constitutes a branch of sociology; that its discoveries and principles, when arrived at in accordance with scientific methods, should be regarded as provisional and preparatory, though very important, to the development of truly universal and complete sociological principles; and that, since men’s various interests and pursuits are interdependent and inters related, political economy, which deals only with one of men’s interests — wealth — cannot pretend to furnish any practical instructions with regard to conduct in general, but merely to indicate more or less probable, tendencies. Their position may be stated in the following language of F. Harrison, used in a defence of the Comtian school: “In Comte’s theory a science is a systematic explanation, on a uniform method, of the whole body of a set of co-ordinate phenomena.... The social facts of wealth mutually act and react on the social facts of the preservation of the individual, of the species, and the civil community — on almost every group of facts throughout the social organism; and these social facts of wealth are studied by precisely the same method as social facts of war, government, and so forth. Therefore political economy is not a separate science but a branch of social science.” But, while utterly rejecting the jargon of natural harmony, natural liberty, etc., they are not prepared to allow government interference, either in economic or other relations. Of this they would rather have less than more, because they realize with Bacon that “luciferous research must come before fructiferous,” and know with Spencer that “methods that answer are preceded by thoughts that are true.” There being as yet an extreme, unsupplied want of true thought upon all these social subjects, they would simply be content with the spreading of clear ideas and with urging upon all classes the perception of the vast complexity and supreme momentousness of sociological studies. They would have the State practise laissez faire, though they discard the theory of laissez faire. They reasonably hold that, when little is known, little should be done.
All this, I gladly admit, is excellently sound, healthful, as far as it goes. The theoretical position is impregnable, and the practical demands eminently suitable to the most thorough believers in liberty. But there are a few things that these economists fail to take into account. As Marshall says: “It is vain to speak of the higher authority of a unified social science. No doubt if that existed, economics would gladly find shelter under its wing. But it does not exist; it shows no sign of coming into existence. There is no use in waiting idly for it; we must do what we can with our present resources.” Were it indeed possible to entirely desist from all practical reform ventures in the sphere of industrial interests, and leave present conditions alone until the development of a science of society should really throw a flood of light upon our difficulties and lead us into a perfect condition by the aid of positive, scientific guiding principles, it would now remain to gratefully accept the teachings of Mr. Ingram and his predecessors and to obey them. But society will not and cannot wait, especially when it is told to wait indefinitely long for results of unknown quality and quantity. The masses clamor for State intervention, and demand immediate relief from great evils, and numerous bodies of well-meaning reformers are ready with plans and programmes for eliminating all social evil and securing all possible blessings. Laws are manufactured by the governmental mills without number, and they of course do not operate without effecting changes in social relations. To remind us of ignorance is useful, but utterly inadequate, and particularly so if those who do it could really bring us, if not the best kind of bread, then at least something more satisfactory than a stone. For it is not true that, as Marshall thinks, “the only resources we have for dealing with social problems as a whole lie in the judgment of common sense” (except in the sense that, according to Frederic Harrison, science is simply organized common sense, which is not what Marshall implies), and that “for the present, and for a long time to come, that must be the final arbiter.” It is true that there is as yet no complete and strict science of society, but abundant materials have already been gathered and collected by men of trained and powerful intellects, and some truths have been established, some generalizations formed, that not only afford us the illuminating principle essential to the proper classification and interpretation of facts (for facts in themselves say nothing, and therefore can be made to teach any lesson), but permit us, in the absence of scientific rules, to direct our practical affairs in at least approximately correct ways.
This is the question I would put: Granting cheer-folly all that Leslie and Ingram contend for on behalf of sociology, is it not nevertheless true that in political economy, as well as in other branches of the science of man, it is perfectly possible for us, not only to carry on our theoretical investigations in an independent and scientific manner, but to map out and guide more or less safely our practical course by the light (dim as it is compared with what we hope it may become) of those generalizations which sociological authorities have placed at our disposal?
I affirm that it is possible. I confess I am unable to explain the failure of those philosophical economists to grasp the truth which the orthodox economists are debarred from appreciating in consequence of their limited acquaintance with, if not utter ignorance of, the fruits of the labors of sociologists and philosophical historians, such ignorance, in turn, being due to their exaggerated notions of their own authority.
[To be concluded.]
* The first of a series of three lectures.
The New Constantine,— and After?
Not long since, when Anarchists referred to Bismarck as a Socialist who was inserting the thin edge of the wedge of State Socialism into Germany, “scientific Socialists” were very indignant, and repudiated Bismarck as a Socialist. Of course this was a mere subterfuge. Whether a measure is socialistic or not depends entirely on the character of the measure, and not on the individual who pushes it.
However, the Anarchists are now justified. Rabbi Schindler’s editorial in the Boston “Globe,” in which he styles Emperor William the new Constantine, is significant. “The German Government is about to practically solve the very problem which the Socialists have been trying to unravel,” he says. And again: “I have said it before, and I repeat it again, that Germany is thoroughly honeycombed with the Socialistic idea, and the German Government itself is more Socialistic than the very men whom it expatriates on account of their Socialism.”
He exults over the fact.
When Emperor Constantine made Christianity the religion of the State, he was not yet a Christian, and stood as far off from the true adherents of that religion as Emperor William of Germany stands today from the Socialists. Under the peculiar conditions of his time, Constantine could no longer withstand the pressure with which a new idea had forced its way to recognition, and exactly in the same manner does the young German Emperor yield to the demands for a new order of things.
This comparison of the new Constantine to the ancient Constantine is no fanciful allusion. Rabbi Schindler is a man of learning, a student of history, and, as a priest, must be particularly versed in the historic events associated with the name of Constantine. He is no irresponsible layman, but a leader in the new movement; he has translated Bellamy into German, and is an active worker and speaker in the new movement. That he should see a striking parallel between Emperor William and Constantine reveals to us what the movement seems like to such a man. Whether William is as big a trickster as Constantine, Mr. Schindler does not care; it is the “logic of events” that fascinates him; he revels in the “tendencies of things.” Socialism is a kind of religion, he says. Of this particular sort of Bismarckian socialism it is true; it is a kind of religion, and therefore it needs and craves power: first to establish itself, and then to protect itself from unfaithful and sceptical Anarchists who deny its wisdom and oppose its authority. State Socialism needs a new Constantine to do what Constantine did for Christianity,— i. e., establish it as the State creed and expel from its jurisdiction the Arians.
Before the time of Constantine Christianity was a struggling reform movement. Then it was honest, in a sense pure, and had its heroes. As a reaction against the corruption and tyranny and falsity of its day, it was a power for good, a menace to the ruling and plundering classes of its time. It was split up into innumerable sects, whose strifes “disturbed the common peace.” Athanasius and Arms were the Joseph Cooks and Rabbi Schindlers of that day, and their points of dispute were, actually, almost identical.
Then came Constantine, and he did what Emperor William has just done; he called the Council of Nice. At this Council the subject matter was put to a vote. The majority supported Athanasius, and Constantine stood by the majority. Now the Christians were by law established: they drew up a creed; the State protected them, made its creed orthodox and all other creeds heterodox. To the historical school of Socialists who believe in history repeating itself these events must be highly fascinating: the Council of Nice may be likened to the Congress at Basle, and Arius and Athanasius may be duplicated by Marx and Bakounine,— except that the new Constantine did not preside at Basle; but the creed of the orthodox party was formulated nevertheless. Except with this little hitch and may be a few others, history repeats itself. It was three hundred years from the birth of the new faith to Constantine: it is now about three hundred years since the birth of Socialism, say the historical school: so it follows that the new Constantine is about due, and Rabbi Schindler is his prophet.
Anarchists, however, can find some gleam of hope in historic events. Arianism is not yet dead, though excommunicated sixteen hundred years ago, and though the penalty of death was imposed on those having in their possession the works of that heretic, Arius. In one field of thought Rabbi Schindler is an able exponent of the heresies of Arius. Strange that a man who fights so valiantly and learnedly a State church should work so enthusiastically for a State Socialism. He must see that, if historic events must repeat themselves,— though in a new field,— the “tendencies” are just those to be avoided. If the logic of events that began with Constantine I. is to be at all a guide to us, we must not forget what “naturally” followed Constantine: the murder of Hypatia; the dark ages; the inquisition; the religious wars; the bigotry and fanaticism of the Catholic Church. The miserable intriguing of every sect today to get hold of the machine should stimulate all who love liberty to fight earnestly against the New Faith and the logic of events that leads from Nationalism to Slavery.
A. H. Simpson.
Ibsen’s Power and Weakness.
Ibsen is usually called a “realist,” but, to my mind, he is rather rebel than realist, and as much prophet as rebel. He rebels, with intense convictions, against the accepted forms of his art, against present conditions, against the life of today. With prophetic clearness and strength of vision he looks far into the future, seizes upon its possibilities, transports them into the immediate present, and surrounds them with the severest actualities of his own time.
Great, unto genius, he undoubtedly is. But, with all his greatness, one is forced to wonder why could not this mighty man have been a little broader, a little clearer-sighted, a little greater? He gathers together the elements in the problem of life,— the position of women, commercial relations, the obligations of social and family ties, the restraints of religion, and the power of conventional ideas; with magnificent scorn he tells off his indictments against them, holds them up to shame and loathing, and sweeps them off the stage. But he has not solved his problem. It is still there, as puzzling as ever. For he has not even touched the primary element of the whole matter,— the economic question.
There is something grotesquely pathetic in the final outcome of all the fierce earnestness and strenuous scorn of “The Pillars of Society.” When that highly respectable scoundrel, Consul Bernick, who has been placidly helping himself up the ladder of wealth and influence by cheating, lying, deceiving, and doing most of the deeds of the whited sepulchre, suddenly drops his garment of evil and puts on the livery of honesty, uprightness, and justice, the effect is very much as if he had been converted at a Methodist camp-meeting. One ends the drama with the conviction that Consul Bernick was at heart just the same sleek rogue he had been so many years, and that, if circumstances were to pinch his pocket-book again as closely as before, he would be again the same cheating and deceiving hypocrite which surroundings rather than inclination had made him.
And it is just here, in his blindness to the potency of economic conditions, that Ibsen’s philosophy fails, and he himself falls short of being one of the mightiest of his time. He is a realist — and a most matter-of-fact one — mainly in the setting of his scenes. When it comes to inspiring his chief characters with motives, he is usually an idealist of the most extreme type. He refuses to consider why men sink into that mire of hypocrisy and dishonesty and double-dealing which arouses his contempt. He finds them there, and with one jerk sets them far up on the mountain-tops of spiritual regeneration. Surely, if he were a little more, or very much less, of a genius, he would see that most of that commercial trickstering and lying and deceiving which he mirrors so truly that society winces at the portrait is due more to an economic system which makes it pay — which even makes it necessary — to lie and evade and deceive, than to innate or acquired dishonesty. And surely he would see, too, that as long as economic conditions are as they are, men will continue to be dishonest and shifty and untruthful in business — because it pays.
This, to my mind, is the worst fault that can be found with Ibsen’s work, whether considered from its artistic or its philosophical side. And, surely, much can be pardoned to so great a mind, which understands so clearly, up to that point, and voices so powerfully the most potent spirits of his century. He is the only purely literary man of his time who hears and understands and dares to interpret what they are trying to do. No other has understood and seized upon the awakening consciousness of individuality among women as he has done. Those few hours of Nora’s life in “A Doll’s House” typify woman’s history during the whole of this nineteenth century. Possibly he did not intend it so,— when an author’s pen is tipped with genius, there is always more in his words than he is conscious of when he writes them,— but, whether or not he did, a century of progress is there, in letters of fire. Shakspere himself never created a female character equal to Rebecca in “Rosmersholm.” She is the strongest, the subtlest, the truest to life of all Ibsen’s women.
Ibsen has somewhere said that he rests his hope for the future upon the movement and progress among women and among the laboring classes. The former he has made evident in nearly all of his social dramas. But his laboring men are all villains. They are very apt to be what the New Englander calls “snoopin’.” In this he has either failed to read correctly the conditions of his time, or he has sacrificed this particular truth to what he has considered a larger necessity in the construction of his plays.
Ibsen has not fully expressed, but he is the only author who has conscientiously attempted to express, that restlessness and those half-hushed threats of revolt against conventional bonds and restraints and illogical customs which are part of the signs of the times. The spirit of rebellion against this deadweight heritage from past generations and the benumbing fear of it — the one forcing men to think and the other refusing to let them act — seem to me to be the principal idea, rather than sexual relations or heredity, in “Ghosts.” That dead-weight heritage and the spirit of rebellion against it form one of the pitiful tragedies of this closing part of the nineteenth century, and Mrs. Alving is the embodiment of it all. She no longer believes in these ghosts of dead ideas, which others respect as living entities, but she does not dare proclaim her unbelief, she does not dare act upon it. She inwardly despises them; they have wrecked her life; but she pays to them the outward respect which general usage demands. Her life has been one long sacrifice to the ghosts of duty and obligation. She has lied unremittingly to her son in order that he may respect his father’s memory; and, when he comes home with his inherited disease, “worm-eaten from his birth,” she will not tell him, until the last necessity is put upon her, that not he, but his father, has been to blame, even though the boy’s self-reproach adds to his sufferings. And when she does finally tell him of his father’s dissolute life, she takes the blame upon her own shoulders and shields the dead man, in order that the son may retain some portion of filial love and respect. And all the time she knows that she is doing homage to “ghosts.”
Is she not very like the spirit of the time, which bends the knee and bows the head before each one of a thousand ghosts, though in secret thought despising them all? F. F. K.
Mr. Bilgram’s Rejoinder.
To the Editor of Liberty:
My rejoinder to your remarks on my last communication, in your issue of February 15, was unavoidably delayed.
Above all, I must admit an omission in my exposition, but, since it was on both sides of the question, the result remains unaffected. I had paid no attention to the labor involved in making loans. Including this admitted factor, my argument is this. The expenses of mutual banks may be divided into three categories,— i. e., risks, cost of making loans, and cost of making the tokens. These three items are represented in the interest payable by the patrons of such banks, and, while they determine the current rate of interest, those who lend money which they have acquired have to bear only two of these items, and will obtain interest composed of the three, and consequently receive pay for work they have not performed. And capital having the power of bringing an unearned income as long as money is thus blessed, I still hold that justice is not attained until the gross interest is reduced to the rate of risk and cost of making loans, the cost of making the tokens being defrayed by public contribution.
It cannot be denied that “the burden of discount falls ultimately, not on the borrowers, but on the people”; the trouble is that the people are compelled to pay more than this discount, and my desire is that they should cease to pay this excess which now falls into the hands of the owners of capital.
Should the question of free banking become a political issue, I should heartily coöperate with you in furthering the object. But this does not prevent me from advocating a government issue, provided the borrowers are charged no more than risk and cost of making the loans, as a preferable measure. Yours truly, Hugo Bilgram.
Philadelphia, March 31, 1890.
To the above there are at least two answers. The first is that that factor in the rate of interest winch represents the cost of making tokens is so insignificant (probably less than one-tenth of one per cent., guessing at it) that the people could well afford (if there were no alternative) to let a few individuals profit to that extent rather than suffer the enormous evils that result from transferring enterprise from private to government control. I am not so enamored of absolute equality that I would sacrifice both hands rather than one finger.
The second answer is that no private money lenders could, under a free system, reap even the small profit referred to. Mr. Bilgram speaks of “those who lend money which they have acquired.” Acquired how? Any money which they have acquired must have originated with issuers who paid the cost of making the tokens, and every time it has changed hands the burden of this cost has been transferred with it. Is it likely that men who acquire money by paying this cost will lend it to others without exacting this cost? If they should, they would be working for others for nothing,— a very different thing from “receiving pay for work they had not performed.” No man can lend money unless he either issues it himself and pays the cost of making the tokens, or else buys or borrows it from others to whom he must pay that cost. T.
The Truth-Soldier’s Method.
In the rejoinder from Mr. Lloyd that appears in this issue of Liberty he asks me to explain why his gladness at having stung me (always supposing myself to have been stung) or, as be now puts it, his gladness that the sting of the blow was sufficient to effect its purpose, is a denial of his position in the controversy between us. I will tell him why. It is because his position, as I understand it, is that good purposes are not to be effected by stinging blows, and that the true attitude of the worker for progress is one of comprehensive love and pity that roust prevent him from inflicting personal pain by personal criticism. When he personally criticised me, and then, thinking that he had pained me, felt and expressed a joy at having done so, he in act denied his own position and affirmed mine. Nothing can he plainer. And this is equally true whether the blow struck was needlessly heavy or exactly fitted to the emergency. Mr. Lloyd’s contention heretofore has not been against heavy blows, but against the policy of striking blows. It is true that in his last article he declared that personal criticism is sometimes unavoidable, and that he was simply pleading for reluctance in the use of it. But in a previous article, answering my justification of personal attack where circumstances call for it, he asked: “What profit can there possibly be in obscuring the clear light of intellectual deliberation by scandalous exposures of those meannesses, mistakes, and moral sores which alas I are the common diseases of us all?” No hint of any exceptional cases here, unless Mr. Lloyd should try to find one by quibbling over the word “scandalous.” That he will not do, for he must know that the degree of scandal is proportional, not to the exposure, but to the offence. My exposure of the firebugs was as scandalous as possible. By the way, I believe that had Mr. Lloyd’s approval.
However, now that Mr. Lloyd comes over to my own ground of striking blows when necessary and proportioning them to the emergency, I can only welcome him; and if he prefers, instead of doing this in manly fashion, to follow his usual method, when defeated, of transferring himself to his opponent’s position with a victorious assumption that it has been his position all along and not his opponent’s, I suppose he must be indulged in this peculiarity. In ray previous article was the following sentence: “Reluctance is not half-heartedness, and, when I see that I must or should fight, I do so with all the force there is in me.” It is perfectly clear that here the word “force” is used in contrast with “half-heartedness,” and that ray words as a whole do not at all imply that I favor an undue expenditure of strength. But Mr. Lloyd, in restating me, leaves out all reference to half-heartedness, and thus paraphrases the balance of the sentence: “When a blow is to be struck, it is best to strike it with all one’s force.” Of course the paraphrase entirely revolutionizes the meaning, and I find it very difficult to believe that Mr. Lloyd did not understand me. For a man who professes not to like a fight, it seems to me that he is willing to resort to very questionable means of prolonging the appearance of a fight rather than admit a defeat.
I have nothing but applause for Mr. Lloyd’s splendid eloquence upon the value of the truth-searchers. Their work is the first requisite of progress. But it is equally true that the work of the truth-soldiers is the second requisite of progress. And the second requisite, being really a requisite, is as important as the first and as truly representative of the best spirit of the age. The really greatest men, the men who most completely represent the best spirit of the age, are those who combine within themselves the truth-searcher and the truth-soldier. Such a man was Proudhon. For ray part, I have no faith whatever in the simple power of truth, if that phrase is to be interpreted according to the usual optimistic acceptation. It is in the power of the slightest accident happening at the right time to bury the most important of truths so deep that it will not be resurrected for centuries. And even then its resurrection may be the result of an accident equally slight. The chief power that truth has it owes to the weakness of error. Error, as has been so often said, carries the seeds of its own death within it. When an error dies, there is a conflict for the succession, sometimes between other forms of error, sometimes between other forms of error and the truth. At such times, if the truth is simply announced by a truth-searcher, it generally gets crowded out. But if there happens to be a truth-soldier in the vicinity, it generally gets a hearing, then a trial, and then victory. Now, the method of the truth-soldier necessarily differs from that of the truth-searcher. Having to do battle with the foes of truth, the truth-soldier must be aggressive. But because I, a truth-soldier, am aggressive, all this controversy has arisen. Mr. Lloyd is displeased because I am not like Darwin and Emerson. I should like very much to be like Darwin and Emerson, but, woe is me! I can’t. I have other work to do, and their methods will not fit it. Still more appropriately Mr. Lloyd might have held up as a model my teacher, Josiah Warren, one of the gentlest of mortals. It was his misfortune that he so long lacked a truth-soldier. It is true that one did appear for a time, and a master he was,— Stephen Pearl Andrews. But he too wanted to be a Darwin or a Spencer, and he soared away into the ether or the fog (time will tell which) of Universology, very rarely descending after that into the arena where he had so well begun the battle for liberty. Two decades or more passed before new soldiers appeared. Then a few of us took up the fight, and by our persistent aggression more has been accomplished in the last ten years for Josiah Warren’s ideas than was accomplished in the entire half century which elapsed between his discovery of them and the beginning of our warfare. I really cannot abandon this policy to satisfy Mr. Lloyd’s love of peace.
That the majority will condemn me for pursuing this policy is not an argument that I expected to see Mr. Lloyd advance. That the majority condemn my censures now is of no importance whatever. They also condemn my arguments. But their ultimate verdict upon both censures and arguments will depend upon whether the former were deserved and the latter flawless. It is not a question of what I “think” or with what others “agree”; it is a question of what all will know a hundred years from now. Mt. Lloyd will please be a little less sweeping in his statements of what “all men” think of Carlyle. The only poison that lies in my memory of him is regret that he fell into certain intellectual errors. For his stormy spirit my admiration is unqualified.
The “sequence of phenomena,” so edifying to Mr. Lloyd, which represents the relations between the editor of Liberty and some of his past contributors has, it is true, an amusing side. In fact, it has several amusing sides, at least one of which seems to have escaped the attention of my observant critic. It is this,— i that in nearly every case each one of these contributors has been in sympathy with the editor against all the contributors but himself. The Kellys were with me against Appleton and Walker; Appleton was with me against Walker and the Kellys; Walker, I believe, was with me against Appleton, the Kellys, and Lura; the logic of Lum’s ideas is like the logic of events,— shifting,— but at least a part of the time he has been with me against some of the others; and, as for Lazarus, the entire body of Liberal editors throughout the country, however much at odds they may be on other points, are always conscious of a strong bond of sympathy between them whenever they think of the annoyances and outrages to which they have been subjected, one and all, by the learned and intellectual, but suspicious and snaky old hermit of Guntersville. I have enjoyed also the sympathy of Mr. Lloyd against most of the contributors whom be names. Perhaps a little reflection will recall to his mind the fact that at the time of the trouble with Walker and Harman he joined with me in attacking them in such a spirit of sweetness that Harman turned upon us with the charge that Lloyd, Tucker & Co. were moved to this course to secure themselves from persecution by the State. If, in nearly all cases where personality has not entered to bias judgment, the verdict has been in my favor, is it not a fair inference that I have been usually in the right? If not; if in any or all of these instances I have been in the wrong,— let Mr. Lloyd show just when and where before making any further wholesale and indiscriminate effort to exhibit me in the light of an obstreperous and narrow-minded censor. And meanwhile let him ponder over the following letter written by himself, which I reproduce here for his benefit from Liberty of June 19, 1886:
Albeit I have the sincerest liking for our warm-hearted and brilliant comrade, “X” [Appleton], I must confess my sympathies in the recent plumb-rule controversy have been chiefly with his opponents, our fair coadjutrix, Gertrude B. Kelly, and bold Ben Tucker.
Now that the report is gaining ground that we Anarchists are robbers and criminals, enemies to the private ownership of goods honestly acquired, and the wilful users of deceitful, equivocal, and paradoxical language, it is high time, is it not, that we declared ourselves for uncompromising outspokenness? What can we gain by any other course?
True enough, our sympathies can hardly be too broad, our hearts too warm, our hands too helpful, for those who labor, no matter how mistakenly, for humanity’s weal; but it is also true that sympathies can hardly be too well directed, hearts too closely guarded against Judas-friends, and hands too firmly restrained from acts of useless and retrogressive charity. The doctrine of “love me, love my dog,” — i. e., ray faults,— is a most pernicious one. Love-clarified eyes are the very ones to see, love-speaking lips the very ones to effectively rebuke, the errors of friends. I have nothing to say against courtesy and coöperation, patience and good-fellowship; rather do I applaud those time-honored and eminently practical virtues; but they must never interfere with the straight backbone and the stiff upper lip. True, we should not make our obnoxious points too prominent, need not keep our flags always flying, our war-cries pealing, but never should we rally under a false standard or give a deceitful countersign.
Our foes are many and mighty; Church and State, Capital, Caste, and Custom, are all arrayed against us, and, if we are found among those “fit” who “survive,” it will be because we have proved ourselves more righteous than they, and made ourselves indispensable as truth-tellers and watchdogs of Justice.
Let us, then, so far as we may without Pharisaism or invasive discourtesy, be upright and downright, free-spoken, outspoken, and full-spoken, shooting to the centre no matter what the target, or who stands in front. T.
Professor De Leon is responsible for the following remarks: “That the general principles underlying that philosophy which is today known as Socialism have at an early day vaguely manifested themselves in this country, the study of our history shows.... True, it were idle to seek for the Socialist principle, expressed in as many words, in the writings of the revolutionary fathers; and much of the justification for some of the modern whims (notably that most whimsical of whims yclept Anarchy) pretended to be found in these sources is but a contortion of the text, similar at all points to the forced interpretation of Biblical passages which wrangling priests love to hurl at one another’s head.” It is of course needless to comment upon such blundering and silly falsehood: those who are familiar with the writings of Paine and Jefferson well know their strong individualistic tendencies, and will not be at a loss how to treat a movement whose trumpeters are either stupid or reckless enough to so disregard fact and logic. But I wish to call attention to the fact that even such an opponent of Anarchism as General Trumbull clearly perceives the natural affinity between Jefferson and the modern Anarchist, as may be seen from his pamphlet entitled “Thomas Jefferson,” and to the further fact that Gronlund combats the individualism and laissez-faire-ism of the consistent Jeffersonian democrats in the name of authoritarian philosophy, and explicitly declares that no believer in the doctrines of Paine and Jefferson, no democrat, no partisan of political decentralization, can be a Nationalist. He counts on the Republican party for the supply of nationalist converts, insisting that a democrat must undergo an intellectual revolution before he can join the new crusade. On this point Gronlund is perfectly right, and Professor De Leon had better “read up” on the subject of American individualism, past and present, before resuming his stump oratory for the new slavery.
The editor of the “Journal of the Knights of Labor” writes: “Mr. J. W. Sullivan, who is writing a series of articles in the ‘Twentieth Century’ to show ‘Wherein “Progress and Poverty” is Weak,’ would do well to bear in mind the saying that no man was ever written down except by himself. ‘Progress and Poverty’ is not weak. If it were, it wouldn’t be necessary for Mr. Sullivan to use up so much space trying to show its weakness. It is one of the strongest books ever written, as shown by the number of people — much abler some of them than Mr. Sullivan — who have tried to demolish it and failed.” With all due respect, the editor of the “Journal” argues like a dull schoolboy. “Progress and Poverty” is a large work, and to prove its weakness some space is required. Mr. Sullivan has been rather too economical in the matter of space. In saying that much abler men than Mr. Sullivan have failed to refute George, the editor seems to have forgotten that opinions differ on what constitutes “ability” and “failure.” It is merely his opinion that more “able” men have “failed,” and why he should be so dogmatic in its expression is not clear. I know many people at least as competent as the editor of the “Journal” who think that many able men have succeeded in demolishing certain detached Georgic theories and constructions, but that Mr. Sullivan has wholly disposed of all his claims as originator of ideas, economist, sociologist, and philosopher, and has shown him to be a disgraceful impostor.
Mr. Lloyd thinks that “leaving intellectual argument to attack personal reputation” is very sad and wasteful business. I wish to submit a case for Mr. Lloyd’s judgment. He has probably heard of a silly book called “Looking Backward,” which has been read by nearly a million people, many thousands of whom look upon it as the Bible of Socialism and upon its astonished author, Mr. Edward Bellamy, as a sort of Messiah. The reception of this book is one of the most tremendous crazes on record. Now suppose it should be proved that Mr. Bellamy wrote this book as a satire on Socialism and submitted the completed manuscript as such to Harper & Brothers, and that that house, while not absolutely rejecting it, declined to take it unless the satire could be made less extravagant and given more of an air of probability. If this were a fact and it should be made widely known, it would not only bring into deserved disrepute a man who is now posing on a pedestal as a sociologist, but it would save multitudes of foolish though well-meaning people long and profitless mental meanderings, and might save this country (one can never tell) a bitter experience of State Socialism. Does Mr. Lloyd mean to say that such an exposure would be a “wasteful, irritating friction, distraction, and stumbling-block”? If the facts supposed are real facts, is it not an exposure that should be made in the interest of truth? Personally I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the charge; I can only say that it comes to me, through three persons whose reliability I have no reason to doubt, from a member of the firm of Harper &. Brothers. If the statement is entirely false, it should be denied; if it is partially false, it should be amended; if it is true, it is high time the people were made aware of the fact.
I was recently present at a debate in which all the Nationalists who took part claimed to be in favor of liberty and were very indignant that anybody should doubt it. The next day I received from Mr. C. A. Jenneson of Natick, Mass., who had chanced to receive a sample copy of Liberty, a postal card on which was written the following: “I don’t want you to send any more of your Anarchist papers to me. The country ought not to tolerate the circulation of such trash. I consider ‘Looking Backward’ by Edward Bellamy the grandest book of our times, the parody of which in your paper of March 8 is simply disgusting.” Here we get an indication of what the liberty of printing would be under Nationalism.
Don’t keep Liberty to yourself, share it with others!